By Winston Dodge / August 11, 2023
Confucius said, “The Strength of a nation is in the integrity of the home (family).” Wow! What a statement. What is the nation’s strength today? Families struggle. There is unrest, stress and financial strain. We need good healthy families with strong moral principles and standards.
David Ogden Stiers, an American actor and conductor has said, “Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”
Sad to say some do. This is where unconditional love takes over. Love should be the key ingredient within families, between friends and in marriage. Without love nothing can survive.
Friedrich Nietzche, the German philosopher, said, “In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds us together and the music that brings harmony.”
This statement summarizes the family of Cyril and Gladys (King) Porter. In 1966 when I married their daughter Cora, I became part of the Porter family. If there were a Family Hall of Fame, I would recommend them to be inductees. I have experienced how this worked within their family for over 56 years. They did not have much in material possessions, but they did have much love for one another. That’s real riches. Over the years, I taught school, served in Germany with the RCAF and was ordained as a Salvation Army Officer in 1969. I have known many families, but this family has displayed something special.
Cyril often worked two jobs just to make sure his family’s needs were met. Christmastime, he cut and sold trees for a dollar each, for extra cash.
He finished his schooling with only Grade 4, so he could start working. He was adamant that his own children would get a good education, a driver’s license and have a good paying job.
There were no musicals or concerts, but there were a lot of picnics, where they could sit and enjoy lunch and sometimes have Vienna sausages as a treat. No tables or chairs were necessary, just a tablecloth.
The family has grown over the years with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The extended Porter family still has picnics and cookouts. Many come to have a chat, have fun and enjoy food. A Jiggs Dinner at Topsail Beach is special.
Today, some family members live in different provinces. On occasion they return home and enjoy a reunion. Last year we all gathered at the home of Cyril’s and Gladys’s granddaughter Susanne and her husband Andrew (see above photo).
We miss Nan and Pop, but we have many memories. As Candace Cameron Bure said, “The memories we make with our family is everything.”
Here are some of the favourite memories of Cyril’s and Gladys’s children and greandchildren:
“With Dad’s encouragement and good advice, I bought my first car (a Hillman) in 1961. Quite a feat for a young woman then.” – Daughter Mary Reid, Dildo.
“My fondest memory is seeing Mom and Dad kneeling at their bedside, as they prepared to sleep. We knew they were praying earnestly for us.” – Daughter Cora Dodge, CBS.
“At mealtime, the pot was always on the stove. Many people stopped by our home and stayed for a meal. There was always a warm welcome.” – Daughter Rose Ivany, CBS.
“Growing up on Dawe’s Road, Long Pond, family time was always special. Whether sharing a meal or enjoying a ‘Porter Picnic,’ there was always room for one more. Today the tradition continues. When we get together, we feel thankful and blessed as we share beautiful memories.” – Daughter Lily Higdon, New Harbour.
After almost every supper meal, Father would fall asleep between the main course and tea – most of us have inherited that gene. As Father got up from his seat to leave the table, he would rub his 5 o’clock shadow against Mother’s cheek. Of course, she would complain, ‘Oh Cyril, go and shave.’ It was a true sign of affection from them both. – Son Jerry Porter, Nove Scotia.
“I’ve always been amazed how they provided life’s necessities to so many with so little. We never missed a meal. We were never in need for what was important.” Son Robert Porter, Didsbury, AB.
“The best memory I have is the Porter backyard pit fires. It is, as always, a great time.” – Son Ken Porter, St. John’s.
“I’ve always enjoyed spending time with family but since moving away and having a family of my own, I feel it’s more important to maintain and nurture family connections. The Porter Parties provide an opportunity to chat with aunts, uncles, and catch up on the latest news with cousins, which helps create a family bond between the next generations of cousins.” –Granddaughter Krista Higdon Ward, Halifax, NS.
Along with the memories, there were lessons on how to live with ourselves, our neighbors, and our family and with God. Cyril and Gladys taught their children how to live honestly, righteously and with integrity. Cyril, not only loved his wife, he cherished her. When he vowed to “love and to cherish,” he meant it.
At his 80th birthday party, he said to me, “Now when you have Mom’s party, make sure it is better than mine.” That was Cyril.
Think of someone you haven’t talked with in a while. Call them and have a chat. Reminisce! Invite them to share a tea or coffee or even a Jiggs dinner. Have a good belly laugh. Keep on meeting. Take a picture. We may again become the strength of our nation. Being part of a Family Party means smiling for a picture. Say Cheese. CHEESE!