The Mercier Connection
Stella was a small, delicate girl with hair almost white and light
She was born Stella Marie Mercier, on December 30, in
the year 1899, just two days before the arrival of a new century.
When she was sixteen, she moved to Montreal, where she worked as a maid for a young doctor and his wife. They were kind people, and she thought of them as friends. She also assisted the doctor in his office, and he taught her some nursing, which undoubtedly came in handy later when she had to raise eleven children and minister to all of their ailments in their isolated habitat.
Stella had two sisters that I met and knew. I believe
that there were six more, but I never met them. I don't even know all
of their names, I think one was named Madelaine, another Lizzie, and I
know that their was a Mary. She was the mother of Eva Wood, the religious
sister who kept in touch with her Aunt Stella until the day Stella died.
She is at a convent in St. John, N.B. She never forgot Stella on birthdays,
Christmas, and Easter, always sending small handmade gifts or, as she
got older and could no longer knit and crochet, cards that dedicated Masses
to her Aunt Stella. I spoke with her on the telephone the day that Stella
died. She said she always loved Stella so because she looked so much like
her own mother, Mary.
Stella's brothers, unlike the women of the family, who
were tiny, were over six feet tall. They lived into their nineties. Joe,
who'd had his thumb and index finger cut off in a work-related accident,
was still working in the woods at the age of ninety. Frank lived in New
Mills all of his life, and now his sons still live there. One of his sons,
Jimmie, would come to visit when I was a child. He was my godfather. He
was so tall that Mother would put a chair at the end of his cot, with
a pillow on it, so that his feet would not hang over while he slept. Jimmie
was tragically killed in a car accident in New Mills while he was still
a very young man.
Stella and George began to write to each other while he was in France during World War I. Stella always kept the cards that he would send her from wherever he was. Some would only bear her address and no message. Those that had a message would usually start with "Hello, Kid".
I can't really say how their love affair flourished, but by the time the war was ended, they had decided to marry.
In September of 1918, the Canadian forces began to slowly make their way back to North America. George did not arrive until August of 1919. Stella left Montreal and travelled to Duluth, Minnesota where she was to meet him on his arrival. They were married there on September 3, 1919.
So began the adventure that would last until the day George died and leave Stella with memories of a life that was filled with good times and bad, hard times and easy, heartache and happiness and always the sense of belonging and rightness.
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