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Walter Cabay Eulogy

CANADA | Tuesday, 10 November 2015 | Views [305]

Walter Cabay


Walter Cabay

A message from the greatgrandchildren

written by Chandler Bellemore:

I am missing you so much Grandpa

but you are now in a better place!

You will not have to go through anymore pain,

and I just want you to know that I Love You

Heaven just got one wonderful angel.


We are here today to celebrate the life of Walter Cabay, and celebrate is

what he would want us to do. From his infectious laugh, his wide smile to

his loving and insightful wisdom we will celebrate him. As many of us have

heard him say, “I’ve had a good life. Don’t be sad when I’m gone”!


Wladyslw Stanislaw Cabaj (Walter Stanley Cabay) was born in Niedzwida,

Poland almost exactly 91 years from today. Although his time in Europe

was limited, he fondly remembered his pet hedgehog which he would take

to the creek by their house. Dziadek would chuckle as he explained how

this little critter would tuck himself into a ball when he rolled him down the

hill...only to be retrieved and rolled down time and time again.


At the age of four, the Cabay family immigrated to Canada by ship via the

waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Dziadek recalled the ship ride and how

everyone around him was getting sea sick, but he was having fun running

and playing on deck. This was a glimpse into the athlete he would

become. He travelled from Halifax to Alberta by train to find the family’s

land near Ardmore. They could have used a GPS because when they built

their first shack, they realized it was built on the wrong quarter of land.

They had to abandon it and rebuild. One of his first lessons in hard work.

These early days had many trying times with the loss of several family

members to TB, the flu and vehicle accidents.


Like many immigrants, Dziadek started his schooling late after arriving in

Canada. In spite of this, he excelled in his studies and managed to

complete a grade six education. Although he took school seriously, it

should also be known that he was quite the little rascal as well. Dziadek

would occasionally be sent to stand in the corner of the one room

schoolhouse. Like many other areas in his life, he viewed this as an

opportunity. While appearing to “learn his lesson” he would secretly affix

the buttons of his classmate’s jackets to one another. When they ran out for

recess all the coats would be hooked to one another. He even tipped the

outhouse, door down, on a fellow who he was not fond of. I’m sure from

these tales, he must have had time to carve his name in that corner.


School is also where Dziadek began to explore his athleticism. At a

school/church picnic, when he was still a small boy, he was excited to learn

that the winner of the gunny sack race would win an ice cream cone.

There was only one problem...he didn’t know what a gunny sack race was.

He asked around and the priest explained to him that he needed to put his

feet in and somehow make it to the finish line without his feet ever leaving

the gunny sack. His ingenuity paid off and he won the ice cream. His

trick...he spread his legs tight and did cartwheels past the others to the

finish line.


In his prime, Dziadek also loved to play baseball. He preferred to play

outfield, because in his words he could run like hell! This love continued

as he grew older, with baseball and hockey being his two favorite sports to

watch on TV (if Price is Right was a sport that would make three). He was

an avid fan and dedicated volunteer of the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs.

(The Jr. A Pontiacs asked if they could be the honor guard at his funeral.

They posted his passing on their website and held a one minute silence in his honor before the game the night of his funeral.)


Dziadek loved to break bread apart and soak it in a glass of milk. When

asked why he liked that, he recalled a story of how his oldest brother Mike

went off to Smoky Lake to work. Instead of being paid money for his

summer labors, he was paid with the possession of a cow. Recently, the

Cabay family cow had died so this was indeed a precious commodity.

When Mike came home, he milked the cow and gave the first glass to his

little brother saying that Walter needed the milk. Dziadek dunked his bread

into that glass and forever loved to drink his milk that way. Years later,

when Mike was in hospital, my Dziadek would bring his brother grapes

everyday...one of his favorite fruits. When Mike asked, “why do you come

every day and bring me grapes”, Dziadek shared the story of the cow with

him. Acts of kindness and good deeds were never lost on him.


As a young man, Dziadek played many roles. He was a farmhand, cat

skinner and logger. When he was 16 years old, he was offered a job as

foreman with a logging company in Dewberry. True to his love of family, he

turned the job down to care for his aging parents.


It was my Dziadek’s nature to help those who needed help. He believed in

a hand up, not a hand out. He was always a leader when something

needed to be done. He would step forward, roll up his sleeves and get

involved to make sure things happened. He ran for school trustee because

the government was thinking of closing Ardmore School. He understood

that a centralized school would be create too long of days for little children.

He argued with Ministers of Government on the issue until one day

providence stepped in and assisted him. A government official had come to see

the situation for himself. Dziadek and some other trustees took the official

out on a tour to show how far the bus ride already was.

As it happened, their car broke down.

Dziadek, being a selftaught fixer of anything broken, crawled

under the car to see what was the matter.

It was a very cold, winter day and the official was only wearing dress shoes.

Everyone had to stand in the snow as the car

was jacked up with my Grandpa beneath it. The problem was fixed within a

matter of minutes, but Dziadek could see the official dancing in the cold,

trying to stay warm. Again, taking advantage of the circumstance, Dziadek

remained under the car, watching those feet, banging his wrench,

pretending to still be working. The government official was so cold, he

quickly agreed to no centralization ensuring shorter bus rides for the small



Dziadek loved to travel. Along with his loving wife, Joanna, they went to

Alaska, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Deadwood, Yellowstone and California. They

travelled Canada from Yellowknife in the north to the US border in the

south...from Vancouver to Halifax, where he located his family’s original

docking papers from 1929 keepinghis tour bus waiting for him! He made

several trips to Columbus, Ohio and New York City to connect with cousins

from his mother’s side of the family. They returned to Poland in 2004 and

visited the farm where he was born, the hill he rolled his hedgehog down

and the graves of his grandparents. He would tell me how that trip was a

once in a lifetime experience. Not only because he returned to his

homeland, but also because he got to do it with his daughter and two



Dziadek had a thirst for learning and even enrolled in a small engine repair

course in his 70’s. He always was fixing and modifying farm machinery.

As his kids and grandchildren know, if something was broke...you took it to

Grandpa! He would do his best to fix it, but if it was beyond repair it didn’t

hit the trash. It was salvaged for parts, just in case it could be used for

another project...or possibly a creative windmill! He had a snowblower that

quit once. He took it apart and figured out which piece needed replacing.

When he contacted the company, he was told that they didn’t make that

model anymore. His response, “Well, why not? It’s only 35 years old and

still in good shape”. The company found the part in a warehouse and he

fixed the snowblower. That snowblower now sits in my garage, awaiting its

first Ponoka snowfall. Thanks Dziadek!


Those that have ever seen “the coil scribblers” will understand the next

story. Dziadek kept meticulous records. He could tell you how the price of

coffee at A&W changed over a decade to the cost of fuel and cattle in

1950s. He even recorded weather trends. We always considered his

fascination for keeping these records a bit eccentric until the Alberta

Archives said they would like those records for posterity.


One of his greatest passions in life was his farm and especially his cattle.

As he would walk among the herd, the cattle seemed to sense his caring.

Every one had its own name and he could tell which calf belonged to which

cow simply by the sound they made. In fact, he cared for anything to do

with nature. He wasn’t a big hunter, but would sit for hours watching deer

eat his round hay bales. Dziadek had many horses. His favorite was Liza,

however Jim, Joe, Helen and Irene can remember being taught to ride

Molly, the fat horse, bareback. When they moved to town, he even had

bales placed in Jessie Lake outside his dining room window so he could

watch the geese. He had many dogs...Tippy, Scruffy, Lassie, Buster and

his beloved little Yorkie, Danny. Dziadek and Danny were inseparable. He

believed they were the same age as they even had to take their insulin

shots together. I can’t think of winter without thinking of Dziadek

icefishing. He would head out with his buddies at a ridiculously early time

to catch his limit and be back within hours.


Despite numerous heart attacks and five knee replacements, Dziadek still

loved to be outside picking wild blueberries and cranberries. He was still

picking berries this past August. In fact, when asked how he met my

Granny this was his story…

I was in the middle of a blueberry patch. A shadow crossed my

blueberries and when I looked up, all I saw were these legs...that

went up and up. We went to a few picnics and baseball games

together. We only dated for 3 months and since nobody bought me

anything for my 25th birthday, I thought I’d get my own present...a

wife! I liked it so much that I kept her for 66 years!”


They shared the love of the outdoors and carried it into town. Proudly

displayed above their breezeway entrance was their coveted Alberta Farm

Family Award they won in 1986, presented to them for typifying the ideals

of farm life and their contributions to their rural community. The back door

through the breezeway led to a true paradise for all of the visiting

grandchildren. Their backyard was a HUGE garden. Dziadek could often

be found crouched down among the rows or sitting in his backyard chair,

shelling peas, and feeding them to Danny or the squirrel that lived in the

tree next door.


Out of all things in life, Dziadek valued family the most. From his wife and

children to his ten grandchildren and twenty-one great grandchildren, he

showed nothing but true unconditional love. It didn’t matter what was going

on in your life or what mistake you may have made, he was always waiting

with a big, loving hug to let you know he cared. What happened in the

past, was what happened in the past. Although these were not his words,

he understood that even when you stumble, at least you still stumble

forward. Look ahead, choose a path and fight for what you want.


My last conversation with my Dziadek happened just over a week ago. I

went to visit him and I presented him a ribbon that said “Who I am makes a

difference”. He always was so humble. Dziadek was blown away hearing

about what he had done and how it had impacted my life. He said that

everyone that came to visit him had the same sentiments. From Doug

mentioning how he would roll a ball down the hallway with him, to his own

children explaining the life lessons that they learned from their Dad. He

couldn’t believe that his simple life could have touched so many people.

Just before I left, I asked him, “Dziadek, what advice can I give my 3

children from you? What is one thing that you want them to know?” These

were his words…

Life is full of lessons and you are bound to make mistakes. You are

going to do things that are wrong, you will make bad choices and you

might even go bankrupt, but through it all, you will always have one

thing that nobody can take away from you. You will always have your

name. You are a Cabay. Make sure that you protect it. Make sure

you work hard so that when people hear your name, they think

beyond your past. People should hear your name and think of the

person you ARE and what you stand for.”


So I challenge all of you here…

Whatever you called this man...Walter, Dad, Uncle, Grandpa, or

Dziadek...think of what his name means to you. For me it is loyalty,

integrity, honesty and love.


He had a good life. We are here to celebrate his life. From his infectious

laugh, his wide smile to his loving and insightful wisdom.

I will miss you Dziadek.




While going through his “books” it was found that he also served on the Alexander School Board and was instrumental in the building of the St. Peter and Paul R.C. Church at Alexander.

 Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs website


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