Obituary of Loyal MacEachern
Loyal “Red” MacEachern, a long time resident of Tumbler Ridge, BC, passed away on Saturday, October 6, 2018 in Prince George, BC at the age of 83 years.
I'd say thank you for coming, but in truth, I think we all know we'd rather be home having a good cup of tea with dad rather than here doing this. Dad was a talker, so if you knew him, you probably already know all about him and his life story so I'm not really going to talk a lot about his life, other than to say, he lived a good one and he was well loved. He would talk to anyone about anything. It didn't matter if he knew you for five seconds or five years. He always had a smile and some kind words. You couldn't spend more than a minute in his company and not like him. He would talk your ear off, and I recall many times Mom saying to one of us kids, "Will you go in there and see who he's talking to and tell him to hurry up because we have to go." I thought rather than talking about Dad's life, that I'd just share some memories that remind us of the way Dad lived and hopefully make us a smile little today, rather than dwell on the sadness.
Dad was born in Malagash, Nova Scotia, and was the fourth of nine children. My Nanny Jim always told us he was a hellion. One of my favorite stories she told us about was when Dad had gotten into trouble for something or other. Nanny was probably going to spank him, that's what you did in those days, but she had to catch him first. She chased him around the house, probably waving a wooden spoon, but Dad was not only quick, but also smart, he ran into the bathroom and locked the door. She was outside the door, likely yelling at him for who knows how long. I would like to say that Dad was patient, and that he recognized the error of his ways and came out to apologized to her, maybe turn on a bit of his charm and get out of trouble. He didn't though, while Nanny waiting and yelling at him from outside the bathroom door, Dad climbed out the window and went off to play - or more likely find more trouble to get into.
Most people know him as 'Red', but despite the nickname, if you asked him his name, he'd always say it was "Loyal, like being loyal to the queen." In his younger days, he was known as Slick, a name he was given due to his great skills as a hockey player. He sure loved his hockey, especially his Detroit Red Wings. I quickly learned, that you don't call the house on hockey nights - not even to talk to Mom. Dad would be cheering or yelling so loud, you couldn't hear her anyway. Lorne was usually over there cheering with him, and I'm not sure which one of them was louder, but I know that even if Mom took the phone in the bedroom to talk to me, you could still hear the two of them out there shouting. If those Red Wing players listened to Dad and Lorne, I'm sure they'd have a few more Stanley Cups in their trophy case. I'm actually quite surprised that the neighbors never called in a noise complaint on game nights.
Dad seemed to excel at every sport he played, whether it was hockey, softball, darts or curling, except when it came to playing cards. He quite enjoyed a good card game, but he wasn't so great at it. Mom and I would often argue over who 'got' to sit next to Dad during card games. Generally speaking, the person that Dad threw out to, usually won the game. When he wasn't playing sports, he was coaching. He coached his brother in laws baseball team and his youngest sister's softball team, the 'Teen Queens'. I tried to find a news article or something about them, but you don't want to know what comes up when you google 'Teen Queens'. He and three of his brothers also had their own MacEachern curling team. They were quite good, and he proudly displayed their 'Eight Ender' photo on our wall. When I told him Lincoln was going to go into curling lessons, he was excited to come to PG to watch him, and was constantly asking me if I took videos of each lesson so I could send them to him. Whenever Lincoln asked me a 'curling' question, he was quickly referred to his Grandpa for an answer, because I knew nothing except that they yell 'Hurry Hard!" and "Sweep!".
As he got older, Dad's mischievous side didn't fade away. If anything, it just got bigger. Dad loved a good joke or prank. One of my uncles shared a memory with us the other day that fully encompasses Dad's joking nature. Dad was working in Schefferville. They used to ship in crew workers and the crew would stay in the bunk house. One time, there were a bunch of guys flown in from the North Shore of New Brunswick. Dad walked into their bunk house to find them all having a beer and quickly took the opportunity to mess with them. He put a serious look on his face, introduced himself as a local Jehovah's Witness and then he calmly told them that he'd come there to 'reform' them all. The poor guys had no idea what they were dealing with. Dad could carry on a prank with a straight face and he had them going for a while, right up until he sat down and joined them for a beer. Labatt's Cinquant. Way back in the day, when dad drank, that was his beer of choice. The same uncle said Dad was always 'renovating' the basement of our house in Schefferville. I don't know what renovate means in your house, but apparently in ours, renovate, meant Dad would bring a few beers down the basement and hammer a wall into place. A few days later, he'd take another few beer and go back down to 'renovate' again. Dad must have been a perfectionist because from what I understand, that same wall was 'renovated' many many times.
Another time, Dad and Mom were with another couple at a Haunted House. You had to go into the house in pairs. Dad and Colin, were going to go in first, then Mom and Linda, would go in after them. Now Dad may have been a prankster, but Mom had spent enough time with him to know when he was up to something. Once Dad and Colin went in, Mom turned to Linda and said, "You watch now, they are going to jump out and scare the life out of us." Being the smart women they were, Mom let two ladies go in ahead of them. Dad and Colin, had no idea of the change in plans and when they heard the women approaching, they jumped out from their hiding spot. They scared the poor women so badly, they nearly trampled Mom and Linda, shoving them to the side as they pushed past them and ran back out the entrance!
Dad could take a good joke as well. One time he had done something to my Aunt, and she had vowed her revenge. She let several months pass, until one day, Dad was over at her place for a cup of tea. We all know Dad loved his tea. She set the tea on the table and waited. Dad took a sip, and nearly choked to death. My aunt had dumped half a box of salt into it. He took it all in stride, he was just as good at taking it as he was at dishing it out - well maybe he was a bit better at dishing it out.
Dad was a hardworking dedicated family man. He loved his family and never passed up a chance to spend time with them. While Ken and I were living in Prince George we had a plan to meet Mom and Dad and Lorne in Powder King for the day. Ken and Lorne were going to go snowboarding while Mom, Dad and I stayed in the lounge and played darts. It was a bit of a rough go for Dad that day. We were in the lounge, Mom stepped up and threw her dart at the board - she obviously wasn't a great shot - because she hit the wire, the dart flew out and landed somewhere behind her. While she was looking on the floor for her dart, Dad calmly said, "Kathleen, did you throw that at me?" When we turned to look at him, the dart that bounced out was hanging out Dad's ear. You couldn't have placed that dart more perfectly there if you tried. As if that wasn't enough for one day, after recovering from the dart incident, we were standing at the truck saying goodbye before everyone headed home. Mom was behind the truck helping Ken or Lorne with their snowboard or something and Dad was sitting in the truck. He rolled down the window to kiss me goodbye. When he leaned out, his foot slipped and his knee jammed into the window controller. It began to roll up the window, while Dad's head was still out. It kept rolling up, pressing against his neck, rising higher and higher. And, as per what normally happened in these kind of situations, Dad blamed mom. He started yelling out at her, "Kathleen!! Stop rolling up the window! You're choking me! Kathleen!" Poor mom was at the back of the truck and had no idea what was going on or why she was getting yelled at. She did save the day though, but getting in the truck and pulling Dad's knee off the controller.
Mom took a lot of the blame when something happened to Dad, sometimes it was even her fault. One time when we lived in Quebec, Dad was going to do something up on the roof. He was very concerned about safety, especially when it came to kids. He put the ladder up on the roof and told my mom to take it down while he was up there so that none of the kids climbed on it and fell. He said he'd just yell out to her when he was done and she could come out and put it back up so he could climb back down. It was a great plan and would have worked out perfectly, if only Mom had held up her end of the deal. Dad went up and she took the ladder down and then it got a little off track. Mom went back in the house, got busy with something and forgot all about Dad on the roof. She also decided to run up town to do a little grocery shopping, probably stopped and chatted with a few friends and took her sweet time wandering back home, only to find Dad still sitting up on the roof, waiting. Thank goodness he was a patient man.
Another thing Dad enjoyed was camping. This sometimes led to a few challenges. They first had a camper over the truck. Mom used to do most of the driving. We were going to a laundromat and mom pulled into a parking spot. Before she had it in park, a better spot opened up and Dad suggested she move the truck and camper over there. She did. And, once in that spot, another spot directly behind her, right in front of the laundromat door opened up. Dad thought we'd hit the jackpot. He told mom she could just back straight up and we'd be able to just walk out of the camper into the laundromat with the laundry. Mom had already moved the truck twice and she was done with that. She (politely) told Dad that if he wanted the truck and camper put in there, he could do it himself. So off Dad went, his only request was that mom get behind the truck and tell him how far back he could go. Mom did her job and waved him back. He went a couple feet, stopped and then called out, "I hit something." Mom looked down at the cement barricade and yelled back, "You didn't hit anything, back up!" Dad called back, "I'm sure I hit something." Mom looked at the cement barricade and gaged the distance, "You didn't hit anything, Red! You've got at least four feet!" Dad put his trust in her and began to back up again. This time Mom heard the crunch and looked up. Sure enough, Dad had hit something - the overhang of the building. Mom jumped back in the vehicle and we found a new laundromat - where I'm sure we parked half a block away. To this day, Mom will tell you that it's Dad's fault because no one looks up when they are directing people.
Speaking of directing, when they upgraded to the motorhome, it was a bit trickier to park, but they had a system. Mom would drive, and when they got to the camping spot, Dad would hop out and go around to the back to direct her. By directing her, that meant he'd stand back there and move his hand in circles, while Mom would sit in the front saying, "I don't know why your father goes back there and spins his arms around. I have no idea what he means or what he wants me do. Rhonda, go into the back and look out the window and tell me where to go." So I'd go back there, guide her in and we'd be parked. Usually, Dad would still be back there waving his hands around. Once she shut off the motorhome, he'd come back to the front and commend her by saying, "See how easy it is to park when you watch and pay attention to what I'm telling you to do." I don't know if we ever told him that she didn't even look at him once he got out of the motorhome.
I'll share a couple more driving stories. This was when they were moving from Fort St. John to Tumbler. They had rented a Ryder Truck which Dad was going to drive and Mom was going to follow in their pick up. The problem was that Mom didn't know where the turn off was and she didn't want to be behind the Ryder truck for too long. They came up with a great plan. Dad and the boys would drive behind her and once they got close to the turn off, Dad would pass her, we'd all turn off and carry on our way. We all hopped in the car, Dad and boys in the Ryder Van and I drove with mom. Mom and I were not even ten minutes out of town when the Ryder truck flew by us doing at least 120 - maybe more. Mom began speeding to keep up with him. We followed it - speeding - all the way to Dawson where he pulled in to get gas. I don't know that mom even had the truck in park before she jumped out and went over to his door, pulled it open and yelled, "What do you think you're doing?" There may have been some profanities in there. The poor man looked shocked, to which mom said, "I'm sorry! I thought you were my husband." The man replied, "I'm sure glad I'm not - but I did see another Ryder truck just out of Fort St. John."
Mom usually did most of the driving. Dad was a good front seat driver though, and often took time to make sure Mom was doing okay. Whenever we had to drive through a big city, Mom's driving skills never wavered, but Dad would get a little antsy. Just as we would come to the sign saying 'Whatever City' five or ten kilometers ahead, Dad would start saying, over and over, "The traffic is going to pick up Kathleen. You better watch these drivers, because the traffic is going to pick up." Then, we'd get a bit closer to the city and it would change to "I knew it was going to pick up, Kathleen. I knew the traffic was going to pick up. Watch those drivers." By this point, Mom usually turned up the music and tuned him out. Now we're in the heart of the city and Dad's monologue would change again, "Don't worry Kathleen, it's going to thin out." And he'd repeat that several times. Mom usually started laughing around this time, which didn't really help Dad's nervousness, so he'd just talk louder, "It's going to thin out. Kathleen, for goodness sake, stop laughing, but don't worry, it's going to thin out." I'm not really sure why he thought mom was worried, but every city, we'd go through the same routine. And now we're out of the city and you'd think we'd be done, but Dad still had a few more words to say, "I knew it, Kathleen, I told you the traffic would thin out. I knew it was going to thin out." He'd repeat that several more times, and then things would go back to normal - until we came to the next big city. Mom and I often joked that we needed to buy Dad some of those 'horse blinders' to wear when we drove through cities - either that or I'd have to sit in back seat and cover his eyes.
When Dad was promoted from dad to grandpa, he was beyond thrilled. He adored his grandkids. He teased them terribly and loved them unconditionally. He loved having them over at the house and spending time with them. They helped him with laundry or anything else on the go. Many a grandchild spend the night snuggled into bed between Nanny and Grandpa, having a sleepover at their house. And it didn't matter that my own son, kicked him around the bed so much while he was sleeping that he actually broke one of Dad's ribs. Even so, he was still allowed to sleep with them whenever he visited - although they did make him sleep across the foot of the bed rather than between them after the 'broken rib' incident.
Dad always loved Christmas. In Schefferville, we didn't have a 'real' fireplace for Santa to come down so Dad actually build a wooden one for us. He loved to decorate and has more decorations than Walmart or any other store, combined. One year, he actually took the trampoline apart and used it to make an 'arch' to put decorations on the roof outside. For those of you that have seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, their house was nothing compared to ours. Every year, dad outdid himself more and more. Mom would shop for Christmas before December and Dad would love to head out after New Year's and hit up the sales on decorations. It didn't matter that there was nowhere to store the decorations, he would buy them anyway and figure the storage part out later. Growing up, the running joke amongst our friends was that if you visited our house, you couldn't stand still. If you did, you'd end up decorated. Once he had grandkids, he kicked up his game - I'm not sure how he even managed to outdo himself each year, but he did. He loved to see the twinkle in the grand-kids eyes when they showed up and saw all the decorations. Not to mention, how he loved to shop for them.
Dad had a few little quirks - things that he did all the time. Every time they returned from going out of town, Dad would wait until they were just about in the driveway and then he'd glance up and say, "Thank you Lord, for the safe trip."
One other thing was that he would never say goodbye. Ever. When you were leaving or hanging up the phone, it was never goodbye. He would always end the call by saying, "I love you. See you later." He never said goodbye. So in keeping with that tradition, we won't say goodbye today either, we'll just say "I love you, Dad. We'll see you later." - Rhonda MacEachern
From Red's Oldest Son:
October 6th was the hardest day of my life, the day I had to say good bye to my dad.
He was one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known. He worked very hard all his life to be the best husband, father, co-worker and friend he could be. He did his best to raise his family with very few complaints. He had some limitations, but he never let them slow him down. He always did whatever he could to help us out and put a smile on our faces. From taking us to hockey games, fixing our bikes, building us tree forts and everything in between, he lived to see us smile. He sacrificed so much to put us first and ensure we were happy. He did this in all aspects of his life with most people he interacted with. He was a man with a lot of patience, throughout my teenage years I put his patience to the test once or maybe twice. No matter how bad I messed up he was always understanding and eventually forgiving. I’m unsure how he made it through those years without a grey hair or a nervous breakdown. I’ll always remember our family vacations as we put on many miles back in the day travelling across Canada several times and all over BC and Alberta in the summers. Despite the long hauls and the many “how much longers” and “are we there yets” he always kept a smile on his face and kept moving forward (likely wanting to get to the hotel or campsite so he could get away from us and have a beer). I had a lot of good and funny memories with my dad. One of the funniest ones I recall is at a waterslide park many moons ago. He was going down a water slide at a bit of a slow speed when a lady come zipping up behind him and ran her legs right into his back. No worries, he just has a little break and carries on he then goes for another slide and low and behold the same lady comes zipping up behind him. But this time he was ready, he put his hands behind his back to protect himself a little, she was ready to though she spread her legs and slid right in, both of them got a little surprise. His health slowed him down in his later years, but it never stopped him from helping out, he still did whatever he could possibly do to make it easier for those around him. He was a caring man throughout his life. He loved his grandchildren more than anything I think. I’d often chuckle to myself when we’d go pick up our youngest boys from a visit at grandmas and grandpas, James would be in control of the TV forcing Grandpa to watch one of his silly shows even though the hockey game was on. I’d tell Dad he could switch the channel and watch the game or something else, he’d just smile with a twinkle in his eye. That’s just the man he was.
We’re all sure gonna miss him, but I know in my heart he’s up there looking down upon us all and will be guiding me and my family along the way when we need it.
On behalf of myself and my family I’d like to thank you all for taking the time out of your day and travelling from near and far to be here with us as we celebrate my dad’s life. I know he appreciates it just as much as me. Thank you all. - Ken MacEachern
Words from Red's youngest son:
You never really realize what you have until it's gone. I know everyone always says they have the best dad, but I'm positive that I actually did. Dad was so relaxed and always positive. I have so many great memories of him that I could easily write a book - a very big book.
He would always be tinkering around the yard. One day, he would have us moving a woodpile from one side of the yard to the other, only to realize the next day that he liked it where it was in the first place, and back it would go. Then I would storm off and he would pull the ole - fine, I'll just do it myself guilt trip. And there I would be, moving a woodpile back and forth around the back yard. But looking back, it was for the better because now I can pretty much guilt trip my kids into anything I want. It's pure evil genius.
Me and my Dad's favorite thing to do, besides moving wood piles around the yard, was cheering and screaming and sometimes pouting while watching our team - the Red Wings. I can't count the amount of games we have watched together. We even got to watch one final game together in the Fort St. John hospital and we beat Toronto 6 - 1, but I don't think they have won a game since then.
You never really know how it's gonna feel when you lose someone so close to you and now I know it's the worst pain ever, but I know my Dad had a great life and created so many memories for me and us all to remember for ever and no one can take those memories away.
One of the last things I remember saying to my Dad was 'You gotta stick around so we can see Detroit win another cup together." when I hear my sister pipe up in the back-ground ranting something about me not even living long enough to see the Wings win another cup.
My dad was the best to us and I love him with all my heart. I know he's in a better place and resting peacefully. I love you Dad. - Lorne MacEachern
From Red's Sister in Law in Newfoundland
I met Red for the first time in September 1970 when he came to Newfoundland to marry Kathleen. They were only here for a week at that time but came back later that same fall and Kathleen was just a few weeks pregnant on Rhonda. I remember driving to St. John’s with them to go shopping and being treated to my very first Dairy Queen ice cream. Kathleen had a banana split but Red and I had cones. (Kathleen I am smiling at that memory because I had no idea what a banana split was). On that trip Red and Kathleen bought me a little white jewelry box and my very first shoulder bag purse for my birthday, I had just turned 13. I remember Red’s old brown Chrysler car, it was a freaking tank! I remember him singing as we drove out the highway to home. I even remember the song he was singing...” Don’t it make you want to go home now.”
I remember all the vacations Red and Kathleen took in Newfoundland while our parents were still alive. I remember him buying our dad a case of Dominion beer! After all you had to have a good beer when we were all playing Scat and Aggravation! There was never an early night when they were home, we would always play cards and board games at night.
I had my 19th birthday with Red and Kathleen at Bill MacEachern’s house in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. Red was not without humour, I remember him trying to get me to go in pay a quarter for the air we put in one of his tires at Bill’s garage in Bayhead. I remember on that trip I had flown to Schefferville to visit with my sisters and then drove home with Red and Kathleen. At night in Nova Scotia, Red would take us out driving the back roads to spot deer or any other wildlife.
Over the years Red gave up drinking beer and took up drinking tea! Lord have mercy I had to stock up on tea bags when Red was coming for a visit. But I loved all those visits. Years later one of our sisters was in the hospital in Edmonton. I flew out to visit her, and Kathleen and Red picked me up at the airport. On leaving the airport Red got in the back seat of the truck. When I said “No, no Red you get up front.” His response was “I’ve seen all this before, you sit up front with Kathleen.” That’s the Red I knew, regardless of his own comfort he would give up his seat. That is the brother in law I knew and loved.
Now on that same trip there were a few times when I could quite easily beat him over the head with a pillow. We were staying in Red and Kathleen’s camper in our cousin’s driveway. At night when we would be settling for the night after visiting our sister at the hospital, Red would always manage to stuff socks, and only God knows what else, in my pillow! I never knew what I was going to find. He was a bugger to practical jokes on me. But he always made me laugh. Nothing phased him. We were driving back to the hospital from a medical appointment to get Red’s blood checked, we didn’t know how to get back to the hospital from that end of Edmonton. We stopped and I went in to a gas station and asked directions. This was before the days of GPS. So on my directions we headed out only to have Kathleen stand on the brakes to stop when we came upon a covered bridge that we had to drive under. Kathleen’s language on that occasion is best left to your imaginations. Remember the camper on top of the truck, yeah, not a whole lot of clearance space. But Red’s reaction was priceless. He opened his window and said “oh you’re good, you got a couple of inches to spare!” Well we didn’t rip the roof off the camper, and we laughed all the way back to the hospital.
The last visit I had with Red was the year their grandson Lincoln was born. Red, Kathleen, Rhonda and Lincoln drove here to Newfoundland to visit me and my family. Red and Kathleen and Gary and I celebrated our wedding anniversaries together that year. And Red would not let us pay for our meal. That is the kind-hearted man he was.
But these are just my rambling memories of Red. The Red and I knew and loved was kind to all, willing to lend a helping hand to all. He was a man who went through life with a physical disability but never let it slow him down, never let it keep him from doing a great job at whatever he was doing, never let it prevent him from being there for my sister and their children, and never wanted an ice cream of his own, just a lick!!! I am smiling when I remember the ice cream discussions Kathleen.
So Red, I hope you are up there singing your heart out and having a beer or a good cup of tea with Gary, mom and dad and your own brothers and sisters that have all gone before us. We will miss you, I will miss hearing your voice on the other end of the phone. And a little piece of my heart is gone with you. If you can hear this, give them all a kiss and a hug for me. I know you, like all of them, will be watching over your family and all of us too.
I wish I could be there with you, Kathleen. While a country separates us, my heart and every waking moment is there with all of you. Love you all. Love Irene Day
From Red's Sister in Law in Indiana
My memories of Red began when Kathleen brought him to Newfoundland to meet the family. I had just started my first year of nursing school in St. John’s at the time. After they were married, they would come home on vacation. They would come into St. John’s to see me and take me out to lunch. Often, they would drive me home to Point Verde and then a couple of days later take me back to St. John’s. Red was a very kind and generous man and I never ever heard him speak unkindly of anyone. So, it was on those trips that I learned that Red loved country music and he had some good old country music. He once asked me if I had heard the song “On the Wings of a Dove”. I hadn’t and he played it for me. He loved the song and it became one of my favorites. I still play it. Of course, he would also sing the Auntie Mary had a canary tune, but I will let Kathleen tell you that one and where the canary went.
I loved when they came home. We played games a lot, went on picnics with mom and dad, and we even had fun with him when he was washing his car, He seemed do this frequently when on vacation. Red was very easy going and a pleasure to be around.
So, time passed, Kathleen and Red had children, I married and moved to Indiana. They came to visit us. I remember sitting on the front porch all day waiting for them. I was so excited. The boys All Star Baseball tournament was going on close to our home and of course Red was not going to miss the games, so went to several of them. Lorne you got a terrible sun burn in Indiana. I can still see Red sitting in our family room having tea.
Whenever I called Kathleen to talk, Red and I would chat about how the NHL games were going. (Kathleen, you were not any help discussing hockey). Red loved the Red Wings. Flip and I went to Tumbler in 2012 and needless to say we had a great time. They took us to Jasper and Red was sure to point out the different animals to us. However, he also talked Kathleen and I into going into an historic school house with an historic teacher while he and Flip waited outside. Oh, Kathleen remember how we laughed about that with the Red and Flip. You can tell the story about the teacher to your family and friends. That vacation was one of the best with you guys. Red did not let his health stop him from going places and doing what he could. He surly liked going for drives with family. God willing, we will be coming there next summer. We will surly miss Red. I couldn’t have asked for a better brother-in-law. He treated our parents well and was kind to all. Rest in peace Red and we will all meet again someday. - Mary Cummings
A memorial service was held on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm at the Tumbler Ridge Rec Centre. Pastor George Rowe officiated. Intermenet will be at a later date.
For friends so wishing, donations may be made in memory of Red to a charity of your choice.
Very Respectfully Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium
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