Gery Lemon Achieves New Milestone

Written by Harold McNeill on April 2nd, 2013. Posted in Biographies


Portrait of Gery Lemon and Graham Hill taken by long time family friend Rebecca Kirstein. This note by Gery: “Rebecca is like a daughter. She is a very accomplished photographer and over the years shot our wedding, Kelsey’s wedding – all kinds of family gatherings and reunions. This picture was presented in preparation for Graham’s campaign in 2011 – for his fourth term as mayor. It’s in front of the rock wall across from the Four Mile – beautiful work of public art. The shot was to go on his brochure and website …..I think we look in love.”

Saturday, April 6, 09:30, Dear Reader:  The original story was somehow deleated last Monday when work was being completed on a server transfer. The new story is posted below. If you note any errors in names, please email me a note at harold@mcneillifestories.com

 

A recent story about Gery and Graham may be linked here: Graham and Harold’s Christmas Adventure

Gery Lemon Achieves another Milestone

It was a surprise birthday celebration at the Four Mile Restaurant for our good friend Gery, but before the party could even begin, staff had a difficult time deterring Gery from laying claim to her favourite corner table in the main dining room. Those who know her well understand she is not a woman easily deterred and particularly so on HER special day.

Not knowing anything particular was going one, it took some considerable cajoling from her loving husband Graham (“come on honey, let’s just go to the other room”) and daughter Kelsey (“mom, we can’t have the table, it’s reserved”) until Gery finally deferred to her loved ones.

After being tucked safely in the Tea Room, Gery was utterly unprepared for what happened next. Hiding behind menus, were several family members who had been quietly spirited into Victoria earlier in the day. It made for a wonderful surprise, but that was just the beginning.

In the dining room, the second wave of family and friends were topping up their drinks as they prepared for the next surprise.  As dinner was winding down and with the ambush lying in wait, the Maître de told Gery her ‘favourite’ table had just become available and wondered if the birthday girl might wish to retire there for coffee and dessert. It was a perfect way to complete dinner and Gery gleefully (the little girl still present) agreed. She jumped up and dragged her crew to the other room.

With her two year old Grandson in arm, Gery came marching in proud as punch and totally unaware. Then suddenly “bang”. The familiar faces of other family and friends began to appear, The first words to escape the lady of words was a knee slapping: “I’m Gobsmacked.” The second surprise had been flawlessly executed.

For two hours the tributes flowed to Gery from family and friends who had become the glue of her life over the years that now numbered three score. There was much laughter at the delicious episodes that defined the adolescent and tears when family and friends shared their stories of deep love

Following are a few snippets from the passing decades:

Girl Fight: Grade 7. Gery and Tara were the best of friends but competitive to the nth degree.  Scheduled to take part in an upcoming talent show, a disagreement ensued as to who would play the piano. Of course, there was no better way to settle that argument than a good, knock down, hair-pulling, girl fight. Of course, Gery knew Tara was the better piano player, but that was not the point – Gery wanted the part. As far as a Tara could recall, Gery played, but ‘honestly’ could not remember who had won the fight. We are left to wonder?

Centre Fold: Grade 11. (photo right) Band trip to Ucluelet…Gery was caught in her baby dolls while posing with a centre fold that she felt quite captured her self image. Gery, of course, has a very strong self image. No wonder Graham was very attracted to that centre fold so many years later.

From Liver to Friendship:  College Years, Malaspina … how to win a lifelong friend? Cook them up a batch of liver simmered in vinegar. There was no way Jayne could believe she actually ended being the friend and roommate of that 19 year old, vivacious, blonde whose fun loving spirit and raucous ‘honk’ was the stuff of legend. That, along with red Corvettes and pot smoke filled Datsun made for some memorable upper Island trips….

Serious:  Always think of 60 as the ‘freedom gateway’ – it’s a time you really feel free of any prior constraints, you can look and feel young (and you do that better than most) and you can still claim all the age excuses for the things you don’t want to do, don’t remember, or don’t want to think about… (Maureen)

Mom: (Courtney) — didn’t laugh at me when at 12 years old I curled my hair; planned a secret trip to Disneyland; held my hand on my first day of school; would always have Princess Band-Aids to help heal a booboo; I love you so much and though I’m not there, don’t fret! I promise, on your 90th, we’ll share a whiskey and cigarette! (Courtney)

Mom:  (Kelsey): Near tears when she spoke so lovingly to her mother – about the many times she was there ‘helping to keep her and her friend Rebecca from straying too far off the path, supporting her in every new adventure and being there when the going was tough.  Come to think of it, there were more than a few tears being shed…

The Lady who stole my Dads Heart:  (Three of the ten verses sent by Trish):

We met while I was still a teen
In View Royal where Dad was ‘between’
Different stages of life came together
And there you appeared at the seams

Your free spirit is what I love best
Fun evenings with wine and no rest
Witty and smart, right from the start
You’re the perfect mate for any “fest”

My heart has a spot just for you
Steve, Aidan and Emmy share it too
You are our dear Dubby
We love you so much
Let’s have a toast before we bid adieu…  (the toast followed)

Husband: Graham spoke so eloquently it is hard to capture the emotions his words carried to Gery and those gathered. Gery had wished she had had a tape recording so she could again listen to that heart felt tribute Graham shared with her.

Only a man with a great understanding of feelings could begin by talking about how one could tell the nature of a man by the dog in his yard, then transform the words in into a glowing tribute to his step-daughters as “accomplished, loving, funny and oh, so smart. Kelsey making a difference internationally; Courtney so far away and yet so connected – both raising families that are beautiful, bright and wholesome.

Then he spoke of the challenge of a man living with a strong woman – that strong women can sometimes diminish their men. Graham never found that to be the case with Gery, a woman of great strength who Graham truly believed strengthened him in every way; better, happier and more full because of the strengths they shared – a love of life and the joy of living together.  Gery said in an email: “You know – he really loves me…”

(My goodness Graham, you have set the bar so very high for the rest of us)

Who is that Man with my Daughter? (Harold, a side story): I had the great pleasure of meeting Kelsey occasionally while in Ottawa and Toronto. These meetings occured while doing joint promotions between SOS Children’s Villages, FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association as we prepared for the 2007 U20 Men’s World Cup.  As the meetings were hectic, the subject of our families did not come up, so I knew of no connections between Kelsey and her family.

After one of the promotional events, I emailed pictures to my wife who was at that time working at the BC Pension Corporation. While looking at the pictures, Lynn’s boss came by and noticed her daughter beside me. Lynn’s boss – none other than Gery Lemon. It is indeed a small world.

Tomorrow and the Next Day: After an amazing Saturday evening, at 4:00 am the next morning, Gery and Graham dropped Kelsey and her son at the airport for a return flight to Ottawa so the two could spend the rest of the Easter weekend at home.

Then early Tuesday Gery was off to New South Wales, Australia to visit with Courtney who moved there last year with her husband and two daughters.

It is hard to put into words the amazing feelings of love and sharing that took place when family and friends gathered to celebrate a milestone in the life of an individual who has given so much of herself to her family, friends and community.

Happy Birthday Gery

Your friends

Harold and Lynn

More photos of the Birthday Party are posted on the
McNeill Life Stories Photos
Facebook Page: Link Here

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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman