A Brief Bio...

Find out about us

Detailed about us - Jo-Anne
Detailed about us - Roy

I have decided that it's just about time that I join the crowd and have my own home page. It seems that everyone and their dog already has one and I'm starting to feel a bit left out. You know me, just give me a soapbox. To start, who am I? Currently, (and hopefully always!) I am Jo-Anne Galloway, formerly known as Jo-Anne Uhl. I was born August 26, 1956 in Regina, Saskatchewan to Frank & Anne Uhl. I am number 6 of 8 children. My siblings in birth order are: Jim, Jeanne, Allan, Larry, Don, Jackie & Diane. At this writing, there are only 2 of us who "live away", meaning, not in Saskatchewan. Jim and his wife, Maryann, live in Devon near Edmonton, Alberta and I live with my husband Roy in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

I expect that I should put in a proper biography at some point, just because I can! I have often said that I would never write a proper autobiography until all others who had a part in my life were dead - just so that I wouldn't risk offending any of them! But, what the heck, I'll just try to stay away from all the controversial subject matter. Not that there has ever been any controversy in my life. Heaven forbid!

I think I will use a similar format to what Roy used when he wrote his. I shall identify the decades and give a brief description of what happened with me in each one. Wow, each decade, like I'm really old or something!

The 50's. So, I don't really remember much of the 1950's. As mentioned earlier, I was born in 1956 and that doesn't leave much of the 50's. However, Don is always saying that my memory is so good I can remember things that never even happened, so I should make an attempt. We lived on the farm in the 50's. That gloriously, wonderful farm. I don't expect everyone would describe it that way but I was too young to have to do chores so it was a lot of fun for me. I don't have a lot of memories of it in the 50's though. Mom has since told me that Jim was my "nanny" when I was a baby. He hated doing the outside chores and made an agreement with Mom that he would look after the baby (me) while she did his chores. She thought it was a great idea. He was only 12 but you grow up pretty quick on a farm and he was quite capable of looking after me. I expect that he changed more of my diapers than his own children's diapers. And I was in diapers long before Pampers were invented! I do vaguely remember February 3, 1959. That was the day the music died - Buddy Holly. I'm sure that I only remember it because it would have been a topic of conversation for Jim and Jeanne who were 12 and 10 years older than me and more likely to have cared about Buddy Holly's music.

The other big event of the 50's that I remember is the day Mom & Dad brought Jackie home. I can remember going up to watch the "unwrapping" of her on the kitchen table. They folded back the blanket and showed me the new baby. I remember my response very clearly, "What do we need that for?" I'm sure I thought I was perfectly suited to be the youngest and saw no need for a rival.

The 60's. Now that was when it all began. When I look back on my childhood there are 2 watershed experiences that changed everything for me and had the biggest impact on my life.

The first was in 1963 when we moved from the farm to the store. Whenever I talk about my childhood there are 2 completely different sets of stories - the farm stories and the store stories. Each had it's own charm and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that each provided.

The other major event was in 1968 when Mom had her first heart attack and nearly died. I tend to look back on my life and divide it into two distinct segments. Before Mom Got Sick and After Mom Got Sick. Her illness changed everything for all of us. I was born with a Mom who could handle anything and anybody. She was strong physically and mentally. I was absolutely positive that she had eyes in the back of her head and that something vaguely terrible would happen to me if I ever misbehaved too badly. She was in charge - of everything. It was impossible not to respect her and, as a child, not to fear her, at least a little bit. She ruled with an iron fist in many ways but she was always fair and we knew it. She had a soft side but didn't have the time to express it much. With 8 kids, who has time for anything? She was incredibly organized and resourceful and had the energy to do everything required of her and then some. Until the heart attack. I could not believe that someone that strong could become so weak in such a short time. For all of the 60's and some of the 70's she really teetered on the edge with her health. I've lost track of the heart attacks and hospital visits. They left a huge and lasting mark on me and, I suspect, on all of my siblings. I've always felt kind of bad that the only Mom that Diane ever really knew was the sick one. The rest of us knew the healthy one quite well and they were two different people. I have the deepest respect for both the healthy and the sick Mom. She's probably the person I have admired the most in my life.

Getting back to the farm again, I do remember a lot of what went on in the 60's at the farm. Watching Dad milk the cows, aiming a teat at a cat now and then so they could have a little drink. Wandering through the pasture and looking at the indent in the ground where the buffalo used to roll around. (That's what I was told anyway, goodness only knows if its true or not. Much of what my brothers told me came straight out of their imaginations.) Stealing peas out of the garden. Of course Mom always knew. We figured she found the empty pea pods so we started eating those too. We all had our own climbing trees and that was great fun! Butchering day when Uncles Reinhold, Fred and Werner came over to help. We weren't supposed to watch when our favorite calf, Snowball, was "on the list", but Dave, Don & I peeked out from behind one of the cars. We couldn't believe they were actually going to butcher Snowball. He tasted good though.…

Aside from the butchering, living on the farm was such a carefree and fun way of life. For us kids, that is. I'm sure Mom & Dad saw it quite differently. Mom baking pies and leaving them on the kitchen window sill to cool off. Art Wirll always knew that and tried to steal one by driving up close and reaching out of his window for the pie. Our dog, Skipper, put a stop to that pretty quick. Good old Skipper, the best farm dog we ever could have had. He was always right in the middle of whatever we were doing, unless he had to go get the cows. I remember Mom snapping her finger and saying, "Skipper! Get the cows!". Off he would go into the pasture. The cows were pretty well trained, when they saw him they knew it was time to come in so they headed for the barn to get milked. Skipper also saved the house from burning once. He was something.

It was quite a busy time when we left the farm. I think Diane was just a few weeks old and I can't imagine how much work that must have been for Mom. Her arrival on the scene didn't bother me as much as Jackie's arrival. I guess I figured there was nothing I could do about it anyway so I might as well give in gracefully. We were so excited to move into a new house. Dad had pounded most of the nails himself, with lots of help from us kids, of course. Indoor plumbing - we were in heaven!

The store went through a few changes. At first it was mostly a café and gas station. Mom was cooking breakfast for a road crew of 25 men most mornings. After her heart attack, the store changed. It became a gas station, grocery store and sporting goods store. It was a good change because Mom didn't have to do a lot of the work when she wasn't well. She was the only one that had been capable of all the cooking and baking required for a café, but any one of us could handle a grocery store.

I started school in the 60's as well. Now that was fun! All those kids to play with, all those great books to read. I was a happy kid. I always loved school, right from grade 1 to grade 12. I was blessed with enough brains that I didn't have to study much and still managed to get good grades so it never seemed like work. There was never another hobby that I loved as much as reading and the school was full of books. I used to read my entire reader within a week of the new school year, then I would borrow Don's and read his. It also helped that Dad was the school bus driver. The school bus is more fun when its yours. (Except for when it needed sweeping out.) We had good times on that bus. It was also where I got some of the news. I remember after most of the kids were off and Dad looked into the large mirror to where I was sitting and said, "Guess what happened today. President Kennedy was shot." Another time, in the 70's it was "Dodge (Larry's dog) got hit by a car today and killed." Geez, kind of bad news come to think of it.

It's probably time for the 70's. That was quite a decade for me. I guess it was when I grew up. Yes, I know, growing up is a process that I'm still involved in. Physically speaking though, I grew up.

It was a busy time at our store. Rowan's Ravine Park had really caught on, the beach developments were growing like crazy and everyone was in our store at one time or another. Sometimes it seemed like everyone from the beach was in there at the same time. I can remember lines of cars on either side of the two lanes, lining up to get in to buy gas. There were days that Larry, Allan & Don never seemed to come inside. There was no such thing as an uninterrupted meal in the summer with that store. On busy weekends we would often eat in shifts, standing up. It was great fun though. I always felt that I led two different lives. There was my "school life" where I would hang around with my school friends, kids I grew up with. Then there were all the "beach people", our summer friends. A completely different group of people that I had completely different relationships with. I've been lucky enough to retain some friends from each of those different times.

One of the most fun things in that decade was having all of our summer friends in our house so much. Bob Sikma very nearly lived with us all summer long; he and Don were inseparable. As we went through our teens it wasn't unusual to have as many as 15 or 20 people there at meal time. Mom & Dad were always really good about allowing our friends to hang around for hours. I guess it was because we worked in the store so much, rarely even bothering to ask for time off to go to the beach ourselves. If our friends wanted to see us during the day, they came to the store, where they were always welcome.

I also met all of my boyfriends and both of my husbands at that store. It was quite an important place for me. I graduated from high school in 1974 and moved into the big city of Regina where I immediately got a job with Sask Tel. I shared an apartment with Velda for a few months, then got one of my own. I married Allan Blair in September of 1975, in the park of course. The park was such a big part of our lives, and because we lived only a mile away we tended to think of it as an extension of our own yard. That didn't always go over very well with the park rangers but they got used to us. We didn't leave them much choice.

The 70's was also when I developed Crohn's disease. I was in and out of hospital several times and had some surgery. I suppose it was pretty awful in some ways but I don't really think about it that way. I always had lots of friends coming to visit me when I was in hospital so it could have been worse. Besides, going in hospital wasn't such a scary thing. Mom had been there so much that I tend to think of it as being a pretty normal thing to do. She was in for about a month once while I was living in Regina and I would go see her in the Pasqua Hospital (known as the Grey Nuns at the time) every day after supper and stay until the nurses kicked me out. Same thing when she had her surgery in the Plains Hospital. Having a background like that took all the fear out of hospitals for me.

Well, let's get on to the 80's. Another busy decade with lots of major events happening. First off, Mom & Dad retired from the store and I bought it from them. It was something that I had always wanted and I got lucky. Shortly after that, my marriage ended as well. There really isn't much to say about that except that I was certainly too young when I got married and that has a lot to do with why it broke up. It was a difficult thing, as anyone else who has gone through it will know. Even with no children, there are a lot of adjustments to be made on both sides and it affects many more lives than just the two who are directly involved.

Also in the 80's I met Roy Galloway who I married in 1985. Another big change and a positive one, for sure. While we lived at the store together, Roy's two teenage children moved in with us, Susan & Phillip. Now that was fun. I had always told Mom that I never intended to have children of my own but that I wouldn't mind adopting a couple. Funny how these things have a way of working out. Susan & Phillip fit in quite nicely in our lives out there. My family accepted them completely and they loved having so many relatives. Having lived all their previous years in Yellowknife, it was quite a culture shock to them. Susan adjusted to it very well but Phil did not. He moved back north again after only a couple of years. The north has a way of really grabbing hold of some people and just not letting them go. Phillip is one of those. Along with having Roy's two kids living with us, Terry lived with us for quite some time at the store too. He is the same age as Susan and they became fast friends. It was great for her because she quickly became part of a large circle of his friends.

The economy in the 80's was such that we knew we were going to have to leave the store. With a large mortgage on it and the economy slipping steadily down in Saskatchewan the park was about to get hit with all time low numbers of visitors. Because our store depended largely on summer visitors, we figured we better get out. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made but Dad understood completely why we had to leave it and that made it easier. I guess it was just his blessing that I felt I needed.

Roy took a job with Gandalf Data in Calgary and we moved there in the spring of 1983. We sure did love that city. Out of all the cities out west it is the favorite of both of us. Roy had lived there for several years before he met me so it was like going home for him. Phillip made all kinds of friends there in our neighborhood and Susan had friends that lived fairly close as well. Our time there was short-lived though. That fall Roy was offered a promotion to open their new Winnipeg office. He accepted and we moved there. Can you believe it? We lived in 3 different provinces in just a few months. Anyone would have thought we were trying to stay one step ahead of the law or something! While in Winnipeg, Phil moved back to the north. Susan stayed with us until she finished high school, then she moved north as well, looking for work. We lived in Winnipeg until May of 1985 when we moved to Halifax; another promotion for Roy with Gandalf.

We got married in Halifax in August of 1985 and have lived here ever since. I worked at Dalhousie University for a short time, then got a job in the nursing office with Northwood, a very large senior citizens complex. I had great fun working there with a place full of Grandma's and Grandpa's. I was there for about 3 years, took a brief hiatus due to problems with Crohn's disease and ended up working in a dental centre for nearly 10 years.

1986 was a great year for us. Roy was doing well in sales and we got a couple of really nice trips out of it. In late summer we headed out to Vancouver for Expo 86, compliments of Gandalf. We were there for a few days and managed to visit with some of Roy's relatives and my relatives. The best part of that year was later in November when we went to Maui for a week. Again, it was courtesy of Gandalf, all expenses paid. We stayed in a luxury resort with the other sales people who qualified - a really fun group. We watched the sun rise one morning over a huge volcano crater (inactive, thank goodness), we went para-sailing, headed out to sea on a huge catamaran that had mai tai's coming out of the water taps! It was a long flight out there from Halifax, via Chicago but it was comfortable. It was a little bit unnerving watching the movie Top Gun while we were flying in a 747. I kept expecting the captain to do a few loops!

The 80's was also notable for the losses we had. Some of the people I valued most in my life passed away in the 80's. Up to that time, the only person I had lost that I was close to was Grandpa. As difficult as that was, he had lived to be 91 and I recognized that his death was a normal part of life. But in the 80's, we lost Eileen and she was only 49. We didn't know that she had terminal cancer until very shortly before she died and it was the greatest shock of my life up to that time. In some ways she had been like another mother to me and I could not easily accept her death. Losing her changed my life completely. I remember going home the last Christmas she was alive, knowing it was her last. It was a bittersweet Christmas. We were all together for the first time in years and that was good. However, we knew it was our last Christmas with Eileen and that was pretty rough. I can remember still, hugging Don goodbye and crying because I knew that life would never be the same again. The next time I came home would be for Eileen's funeral. And it wasn't just Eileen we lost. It was also Kay Schaeffer, another very dear friend and another of my role models when I was growing up. Then it was Grandma Uhl, possibly the wisest and kindest person I have ever known. I was always very close to her and spent hours and hours in conversation with her. She was one of those rare people who knew absolutely everything but never acted like it. As I was growing up there were 4 women that I always looked to for guidance. They were my role models, each for different reasons. They were Mom, Grandma, Eileen & Kay. I lost 3 of them in the 80's and while I was still reeling from that, the 90's began and I lost Mom.

The 90's started out pretty good. We were very happy with living in Halifax. Susan had followed us in 1986 and she stayed out here as well. In the summer of 1990 we had a shock when Mom went into hospital with another heart attack, her first since the 70's. She was only in hospital for a week and was never in grave danger at that time but I had a feeling in my heart that her time was near. That dark cloud that had been hanging over me since her first heart attack was suddenly much darker and much larger. It was about that time that I started writing to her every day. She loved the attention and I'm grateful to this day that I did it. (Besides, it got me out of dishes. I wrote every day after supper while Roy cleaned up.) The long weekend in August of that year we had an Uhl family reunion at Reinhold's farm. It was a major event with a couple of hundred people attending. I saw cousins that I hadn't seen since childhood. It was a wonderful time. Mom was there, Uncle Werner was there. Both are gone now, along with others like Uncle Herman and Uncle Bill to name a few.

Then, in January of 1991 that dark cloud finally broke open. I woke up shortly after 2:00 in the morning with Diane telling me, through her tears, that Mom was dead. She had died in bed of a heart attack. She went to sleep and never woke up. The most gentle way possible for the person who is doing the dying and the most shocking and abrupt way possible for all of those they leave behind. All of us were grateful for her sake that it happened that way, but in such shock that it took years for some of us to accept it. A chance to say goodbye would have been nice and I know that there is a side of Mom that would have loved having her children come to her bedside to pay homage to her and say our good-byes.

1992 was a much better year with our daughter Susan getting married to Rob Kidney. It was a simple, family wedding held at Rob's folks' house. Also in the 90's they expanded their family. Alex was born in May of 1994 and Erica in May of 1998. I was lucky enough to be at Susan's side, along with Rob, when they were both born. What a wonderful gift that was. I remember how emotional I was as Alex was born. All in the same moment I was incredibly happy and terribly sad. Happy because he was okay, I had my first grandchild, and so sad because the first person I wanted to tell about it was Mom. By the time Erica was born, 4 years later, it was easier because I was much more used to the fact that Mom was gone and I was able to just enjoy the moment.

The 90's have been fairly hectic. Roy quit at Gandalf at the end of the 80's and during most of the 90's we were running our own business. It's been a real struggle at times and there were several stints where Roy did contract teaching to help make ends meet. Things have been on track though and since 1998 we have been in business for ourselves again. Roy spends most of his time in front of the computer, programming, inventing new ways of doing things. He loves it.

We had a major turning point in our family when Dad remarried. He married Evelyn Mohr of Earl Grey. Most of us had known her for years and we were all very happy when they got married. Evelyn has been all that we could have hoped for in a second wife for Dad. I stay with them every year when I go home to visit.

I also started my family newsletter, the Uhl Chatterbox in 1995. The idea had been bouncing around in my head since not long after Mom died but I wasn't sure just what form it was going to take. Then Uncle Werner died and I sat down and wrote the first edition that same evening. Losing people you love can be a great motivator. The Chatterbox continued for 5 years before I finally stopped it but it is about to be resurrected again in a slightly different format.

Also in the 90's we found our long lost cousin, Axel Uhl of Germany. Actually, it was Axel who found us and I'm not sure that he's ever been lost. We connected through the internet, completely by chance. After we had been e-mail pen pals for several weeks, Axel arranged to meet with the family in Saskatchewan when he was in the U.S. on business and then taking some vacation. I flew out to Saskatchewan for a family reunion and Axel joined us there. We all got along very well together and he spent several days with us. A few weeks later he was again in the U.S. and he flew up to Halifax to spend a few days with Roy and me. We had a wonderful time; Roy and Axel found out that they had a lot in common with computers and the high tech industry. To our happy surprise, a few weeks later we received an invitation from Axel to join him and his parents in Germany for Christmas. They made all the arrangements for us, all we had to do was show up. It was an amazing 18 days with Axel driving us all over Germany, and also into France and Switzerland. The highlight for me was our time in Berlin. 18 months later, his parents were missing us and they invited us back for 2 weeks in the summer of 1998. Again, they made all the arrangements, we just showed up and enjoyed ourselves. In the Chatterbox archives you can find complete descriptions of both these trips. The Christmas trip is in Winter 1997 and the summer trip is in Fall 1998. We have made some very good friends in these people. We correspond regularly with Axel and with his folks, Inge & Otto Uhl.
We lost our beloved Dixie in the fall of 1997. She was just about the best poodle that ever lived and the perfect pet for us. (Right now she is rolling over in her grave as she reads the word "pet". She was sure she was just a small, furry human.) She was nearly 14 years old and had led a life that any dog would envy.

I had surgery just before our trip to Germany in the summer of 1998. I was in hospital for 10 days and had about a foot of small intestine removed. I didn't really need it anyway so I don't miss it at all. The doctors, nurses and the whole hospital stay in general were great. My recovery went very well and I haven't had any problems since (knock on wood).

My favorite thing in the 90's didn't happen until the summer of 1999. All 8 of us kids were home in the summer and had a great party at Larry & Sharon's. We then went to Regina and had family pictures taken at a park and went on to a restaurant for our very first "Sibling Supper". It was just the 8 of us - no spouses, no kids, no parents. It was the first time it had ever happened. With 19 years between Jim & Diane we had never even lived under the same roof for more than a few weeks and when we did our folks were there. Then we all started getting married and having kids. We had a tremendous time at that supper! We talked, we laughed, we talked, we laughed some more. Each one of us had the floor at one time or another to tell our stories, many of which had been secret for years. (And we all swear we told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Some people don't believe that.) There was no fighting, no jealousy, no sibling rivalry at all - just fun. I will treasure it forever. Who knows if we will ever get to do it again. And could it ever be as good as the first time? I doubt it.

Time for the new millenium. There hasn't been a lot going on so far. As I write this it is only June. I will update this paragraph as events happen.

It's probably about time that I add to this.  As I write this, it's April of 2005 and it seems like the world around me has changed again.  I left the dental office in 1999 and then did a few bits and pieces of work for other dental offices and that sort of thing.  Mostly I worked at home for our business.  I did start doing mystery shopping, which has been great fun.  What could be better than being paid to tell on people?  Roy has carved out a nice little niche for himself with programming and enjoys his work very much.  It's pretty nice to be able to commute just down the hall to do your work every day.  No worries about weather or traffic woes. 

I have managed to go home for a visit at least once every year and get so much enjoyment out of it.  As I write this, Dad is 88 years old and I realize that each time I see him could potentially be the last.  That makes it very easy to find the money to arrange another trip home.  We had another family reunion in 2001 and it was great fun, another opportunity to solidify relationships and meet more of the younger relatives.  It's so important to work at forging a bond among the younger ones who haven't had the luck to grow up all together the way the rest of us did.  As I write this, another reunion is in the works for July of 2005.

This has also been a time of losses in our family.  With Uncle Ed having passed away this year, fully half of Mom's family of 16 kids are now gone.  There have been many losses on Dad's side as well.  Off the top of my head, I can think of a few:  Aunt Bertha, Aunt Margaret, Uncle John, cousin Johnny, Aunt Edna.  And of course, the one that some of us found it the hardest to bear, my brother Allan.  It's been over 6 months and I still struggle to find the words to describe the sense of loss that I feel.  In many ways it was the perfect way to go.  He lay back on his couch to listen to some music, closed his eyes and died.  When he was found he still held his glasses gently in one hand and the remote in the other.  Yes, the perfect way to go, but much too soon.  He was only 55.  He had been through so many personal struggles prior to that, the biggest being the end of his marriage.  But he had risen above all of those struggles and had arrived at a new peace in his life.  His career was going well and, most important, he had developed very good relationships with his 3 children, as well as his siblings and friends.  We spoke on the phone at least once every week and I ache for more of those interesting conversations.  When something happens on the political front, Allan is the one I want to discuss it with.  If Roy has a breakthrough in his business, Allan is the one who seems to understand it the best.  If I want to argue about sports with somebody - who better than Allan?  Many of us siblings had a great deal of difficulty figuring out who we are now that one of us is missing.  We've always been 8.  We all know our number (I'm 6).  With number 3 gone, what do we do?  When we all have to do something together and naturally fall into birth order, how can Larry and Jeanne feel comfortable without Allan inbetween?  It has been a difficult adjustment all the way along and it's not over yet, not by a long shot.

Before I had any opportunity to even properly begin the grieving process for Allan, Roy went into hospital with chest pain.  I wasn't even back from Saskatchewan yet when it happened.  He was diagnosed with angina and we went back to the hospital over the next couple of weeks for more tests.  He had a stress test (which he failed badly) and then an angiogram.  That showed that of the 3 main arteries going into his heart, 2 were 100% blocked and the other was about 80% blocked.  They wouldn't let him leave the hospital and they did a quadruple heart bypass just a few days later.  Shortly after coming home from hospital he developed a bladder infection.  Antibiotics got rid of that for a time, but it reappeared a few weeks later.  Cipro got rid of the bladder infection that time but it nearly killed him in the process.  He had a reaction that happens to fewer than 1% of the people who take it.  It made him much, much sicker than the heart bypass ever did.  The bypass was October 26th (now known as Roy's second birthday) and the Cipro reaction began early in December.  It was nearly the end of February before he finally recovered from that nightmare.  Basically, between Allan and Roy, I spent about 6 months in a complete fog, often operating only on "automatic pilot".  I was badly sleep deprived, worried nearly every waking moment, unsure of who I was anymore and completely unsure of the future.  It was a pretty rough time.  I suppose that explains why the Crohn's disease flared up again for the first time in 7 years.  Fortunately, it's been a mild flare-up and I don't have any symptoms to speak of at all.

Things seem to be levelling off and life is becoming good again.  There is a huge hole where Allan was and I'm still not accustomed to it being there, I keep falling right into it without looking.  Eventually I expect that I will be able to navigate around the hole without hurting myself as much.