There’s a lot behind that smile!

Two weeks ago, Marvyn Robertson bought a new freezer. No biggie…except she already had three and a half working freezers…plus two fridges! Why in the world did she need another one? In her living room, she has recliners and sofas to seat sixteen people…add the other chairs she has, she can accommodate over forty people! Her home resembles a furniture showroom!

Is she a collector? Nope! Those who know Marvyn understand that those freezers and chairs serve a purpose – entertaining and hospitality!

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Life has been a rough road for Marvyn, but that hasn’t tarnished her kind and generous spirit.

Edna Marvyn Brown was born in 1938. Edna? Just about everyone knows her as Marvyn! She was born in the Brandon Hospital, the third of three children. The first two were born at home…and both died at birth. So it was decided that Marvyn should be born in a hospital. Marvyn’s birth wasn’t easy – her Mom’s high blood pressure caused Marvyn to arrive early, weighing less than five pounds. Her first month was spent in the Hospital.

Since George and Hazel had no more children, Marvyn was an only child. Hazel taught her gardening at the age of three and gave Marvyn her own garden. Was this to get Marvyn out of her garden…and out of her hair? Who knows! But at ten, Marvyn had the bigger and better garden! Gardening is still one of Marvyn’s greatest loves.

She learned how to drive a team of horses and a tractor by the time she was ten. George’s car often wouldn’t start in cold weather unless it was pulled by a tractor, so Marvyn would drive the tractor, towing the car behind it until Dad could get it going!

Marvyn lived a sheltered life. Because she was a treasured child, skating, swimming, camp and riding horses were considered too dangerous by her Mom!

She started school when she was six…but by then she was a three-year veteran with school Christmas concerts! A shortage of children at Butterfield School caused Marvyn to be pressed into duty a few years before her time! She still remembers singing ‘Away In A Manger’ in a school concert as a three-year-old. She finished Grade 11 and helped her father on the farm for a year. The following year, Grade 12 came to Pierson School, so back to school she went.

Hazel wanted Marvyn to follow in her footsteps as a teacher, but Marvyn wasn’t so sure. She did become a teacher – by accident! Hazel accidentally fell and broke an ankle and that resulted in Marvyn ‘falling’ into teaching for a month! Again, while Marvyn was in Grade 12, Hazel fell sick for a couple of weeks…and Marvyn filled Mom’s shoes once again!

Marvyn headed to Brandon to get her teaching degree. Her schooling was cut short when she accepted a teaching position in Monteforie, near Goodlands. It was quite the experience – eight students…five grades…all in a single room!

However a certain Gordon Howden changed her teaching plans! After one year of teaching, she became Marvyn Howden and chose to become a full-time farmer’s wife. The marriage ended nine years and three days later when Gordon died of cancer in 1969. He was just forty-two. Marvyn was a thirty-one-year-old widowed mother of three…with a fourth on the way! Sadly, Gordon was never able to meet Kenneth. Adding sadness to sadness, Kenneth passed away the day after he was born – Marvyn held him for only half an hour. Kenneth’s short life, however, was historic – 1970 was Waskada’s centennial year and Kenneth was the first local child to be born. Marvyn treasures a silver tray that commemorates her Centennial Baby!

Marvyn and her children – George, Marjorie and Evelyn – moved to the house where she still lives. A year later, she met a Gainsborough wheat farmer, Neil Robertson, at a Pierson Christmas dance. Wedding bells rang for a second time six months later, in 1971. Their marriage lasted until 1995 when Marvyn experienced widowhood for a second time when Neil died at the age of fifty-seven. Marvyn has been on her own since then…give or take a few boarders.

As you can see, Marvyn’s life has been dotted with tragedy. Two siblings she never knew…widowed twice…the loss of a child. She’s also had to cope with the agonizing heartache of losing a special granddaughter, Kara, who passed away far too young in 2012. Yes, Marvyn has been dealt some cruel cards!

But she has refused to let these break her spirit. Widowhood has been a challenge…but her faith has helped her through it – with a warmth and a generous spirit to boot!

2020 marks her sixtieth year as a member of the Forester’s Lodge! She has served on various boards and continues to volunteer in various ways in her community of Pierson. But what she loves most is entertaining and cooking for others. Filling those living room chairs…drawing supplies from those freezers and fridges to entertain family…and friends…and even strangers upon occasion!

‘Marvy Marvellous Marvyn’ Robertson could have become ‘bitter’, but instead, she became ‘better’! 

© Melita New Era