My Scandalous Mennonite Diary #19

Kelvin Bueckert
5 min readMar 21, 2024


The acoustics in this curling rink are terrible.

I have to strain to understand anything anyone says.

It must have been cheap. That is the only reason I can see that anyone would rent this sort of place for a family gathering.

I can’t wait to get out of here.

One end the long narrow room is decorated with large golden letters spelling out Happy Anniversary. The letters have tarnished over the years, but the message is still visible. Under the worn letters is the head table where the elderly couple who is being celebrated sits.

Albert with his plaid shirt, striped suspenders, and a wide grin stretched across his weathered face.

Francis with her plain grey dress, black kerchief, and small figure seemed somewhat less pleased with the proceedings. I can’t tell.

Her face is stoic, revealing nothing.

My mother once told me that Francis had been exuberant and full of life. Fifty years of marriage has changed that.

She is a woman who has been beaten down and lost her identity.

I’m surprised at how much Albert has gotten away with over the years.

The memories nag at me.

Still, he has kept coming to Church. So, who knows, maybe he’ll change yet.

I eye the exit door. I can’t wait to get out of here and look over that store I’ve been wanting to buy.

“How long do we have to stay here?” Mary asks me. I can see she is miserable. She doesn’t like wearing that black head covering and clothing…but, that’s what Albert and Francis would want on their special day.

“Let’s wait until the program starts, then, we can get out of here.”

“How long will that be?”

“I don’t know,” I look at the watch on my wrist. “It shouldn’t be much longer.”

Albert wipes his crooked mouth on the edge of the white tablecloth. Once he’s finished, he drops the fabric back to the table surface.

He bangs the table and gestures at the MC.

“Okay, I hope you all enjoyed your food!” Kenny, a blond-haired young man dressed all in black says from his position behind a small wooden podium.

A small smattering of applause testifies that people have indeed suffered enjoyment.

“I get the idea! The food was excellent, is that what I hear you saying?” Kenny speaks louder in an attempt to defeat the din of echoes that greet every word.

Another round of tepid applause caresses the air.

“But enough about food for the moment. We have planned a little program for the evening.”

“First, we’ll have a few songs. After that, it’ll be open mic. If you have something to share, that would be the time to do it!

But first, we’re going to hear from the Janzen family…If they’re ready that is.” Kenny glances to the left and then nods. “Yeah, it looks like they’re ready. Come on up!”

Finally, I’ll wait until the singing starts…then, we’ll get out of here.

Kenny bounds off the small wooden platform as the Janzen family files shyly toward center stage.

I’m surprised to see Jason there holding a guitar. He must’ve gotten a quick release after his arrest for drunk driving.

A plainly dressed family stands in a line. One heavy-set and grizzled man I recognize as the father. The mother is beside him, a pale and sickly-looking woman. Two small boys cling to the bottom of her dress.

The father fingers the left strap of his blue striped overalls as he glances at Jason.

Jason nods and then lets a chord ring from his acoustic guitar.

“All right…here we go.”

The Janzen family begins to sing a simple rendition of, “Precious Memories.” Jason plays guitar passably, but he is obviously out of practice. The rest of his family harmonizes well and together they manage to lift the song above Jason’s less-than-spectacular guitar work.

Albert smiles and nods his head as he listens. His wife remains expressionless.

It is a family event. That’s why I thought we should come here in the first place. But, I’ve had enough of this. I lean toward Mary. “Come on, let’s go.”

As the rest of the audience continues to enjoy the old-fashioned country music, we make our way out of that curling rink and into the blessed outdoors.

Peace at last.

“I still can’t forget the day that Cousin Henry came over and told me what was happening at their house. How Albert had thrown an axe at him. He ducked and it missed, but Henry had to run for his life. He had to climb a tree and stay there until his father calmed down.”

“Why?” Mary asks me.

“He forgot to close the barn door.”

“Oh. Was this a regular thing?”

I stare at the ground for a moment. “Yes,” I say finally.

Mary looks confused. “With all that has gone on, how can his family still put on an anniversary celebration like this for him?”

I open the door of my half-ton truck and slide into the driver’s seat. “I guess his family has more character than he does.” What else can be said?

It is tradition to have a family gathering for an anniversary. It needs to be done. No matter what has happened in the past.

Mary slides into the passenger seat and I start the truck.

“What did his church do about all this?”

“Nothing,” I say as the vehicle makes our way out of the parking lot.


“Well, maybe not nothing, I think a few of the ministers visited him once.”

“Did anything change?”


“What is the point?”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“What is the point of all those rules and traditions if they don’t help real people with their real problems?”

Mary’s question hits deep. Deeper than I care to show. “That was the past, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

“Abe, there’s a better way than all this tradition.”

“You’ve said that before.”

“And I mean it.”

“I know you do.”

“Then, why won’t you listen to me when I want to talk about it?”

“I will talk to you about it one of these days.”


“Soon…but for now, let’s focus on what we came here for.” A view of the store building fills the windshield.

Mary sighs. “I can’t believe you’d want to move to a place like this.”

I take a breath. “Well, it doesn’t look like much, but let’s take a look. Who knows, it might be just what we’re looking for.”

Mary looks skeptical. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”



Kelvin Bueckert

Lives and writes on the plains of Manitoba, Canada…he is an actor, writer, and has also been known to peddle books on his website…