Going Down One by One
The Neuanlage Quartet has often sung these words, “We are going down through the valley, going down one by one…” Quite suitable for funerals.
It used to be when you heard of a death in the family it was one of our parents’ generation that had passed on. These days, it begins to be in our own generation.
Last week I found news on Facebook of the death of my cousin Paul Friesen’s wife, Lynn, in Lethbridge, AB.
During the 12 years I lived in London, Ontario, my Aunt Jean and I would head for our Christmas Home on Christmas Eve at Uncle Bill & Aunt Eunice’s home off of the Danforth in Toronto. Aunt Eunice kept supper waiting for us until we both arrived from our different directions.
On Boxing Day, Aunt Jean and I would travel together to Oshawa to do Christmas over again with Uncle George and Aunt Margaret, (or Maggie as she often called herself). They had two sons. Phil got married just before Christmas the first year I lived in Ontario, but Paul still lived at home with his parents. Paul has a sense of Irish humor like his mother, and with a huge afro mop of red hair, he was as friendly as a huge St. Bernard dog – all over us with excitement at seeing us.
I remember the Christmas Paul introduced us to Lynn, to whom he had given an engagement ring on Christmas morning. She was very friendly too, and I could see they would be quite compatible. Lynn was into tumbling pretty little stones and making jewelry out of them.
They lived in Oshawa the first few years too, and I recall the Boxing Days we were at Uncle George and Aunt Margaret’s and met Paul and Lynn’s children as they came along. First Jennifer and then Michael. But then they moved up to Huntsville – way north!
Mostly I got my news of them second-hand. Sometimes I phoned Aunt Maggie, (especially after Uncle George died and she went to live with Paul and Lynn), to hear her Irish lilt and her clever word jokes.
She passed away about 2006.
Jennifer married a David Waganaar, and they had two children as well, Chloe and Ethan. A number of years ago they moved across three provinces to settle in Lethbridge, AB. where they bought a denture-making business.
Two summers ago Paul and Lynn were driving across country to visit the family there, and on the way they stopped in to see me here in Saskatoon. It was the first time I’d seen them in several decades! Paul gave me a CD with photos of their family and of his mother’s funeral, etc. A very thoughtful gift.
Last summer they moved to Lethbridge, as Michael had gone there too, finding work with David, and Lynn sent me a card with news of their new address.
Last week I learned that Lynn had been feeling unwell since October, but wouldn’t go to see a doctor. On Sunday, January 28, she complained of a severe stomach pain, and then became unresponsive. So they called an ambulance and took her to the hospital. There a doctor did some tests and announced that she was full of lymphoma and would only live a few hours more. She passed away on the Monday evening at 11 pm. The Celebration of her life is to be this coming Saturday, at 2 pm.
I have to be at a Board meeting and can’t really afford the gas for the 10 hour trip. However, I’ve been trying to help by notifying others in our extended family clan – at least Dad’s side of the family.
In doing so, I’ve learned from my brother Ernie in Winnipeg, that his wife, Penny, is in very poor shape in the hospital, having 3 hour treatments where her blood plasma is removed, and replace with synthetic plasma, and then her blood platelets are returned. She has lost most of her hearing, and her ability to walk.
Last night I called our cousin Cindy in Kelowna, BC, and learned of the health issues she is dealing with, waiting for cataract surgery, and also one to reverse a colonoscopy that was done last fall.
We still have some uncles and aunt left, but they are not in great health, and as I said, now the news is mostly about our own generation.