My mother-in-law passed away the Monday before Christmas holidays and so I was in Edmonton the last three days of school. She was 99 years old.
Up to the last week of her life my brother-in-law said he still couldn’t put anything over on her. She died peacefully and relatively free of pain, and had expressed a desire for this earthly life to be over. We will miss her, but our gatherings with Jane’s six siblings, spouses, and some of the 28 grandchildren and 92 great grandchildren were not filled with sadness. There was a lot of sharing of memories and stories.
One story made me laugh out loud. It has to do with the picture shown above. Ma is in the middle with her younger sister, Rulie (97) and brother, Albert (95). Holding hands (I am told Uncle Albert didn’t want to let go) and laughing for what turned out to be their last time together makes for a wonderful memory captured in this photo.
Now for the rest of the story.
Aunt Rulie’s grandniece decided to bring her from Barrhead into Edmonton to visit Uncle Albert. Upon arrival, she got Aunt Rulie into her wheelchair, up to Uncle Albert and Aunt Clara’s for a nice visit only to be told that they all wanted to go visit sister Annie, who was, by this time in an extended care facility a few blocks away. This meant getting them all in the van, including two wheelchairs, driving to Ma’s, getting them all out again and up to the third floor. When it was time to go, she got them down to the van and got them all back in. Fortunately, Jane’s brother was there to help, but they feared they had injured Uncle Albert’s leg in the process. Just as they were on their way back, Aunt Clara suggested, “Maybe we should go to McDonald’s for tea!”
Perhaps the most memorable time was when we all gathered at the funeral home before heading to the grave site. A brother-in-law lead a time of honouring Ma by encouraging everyone, especially the grandchildren and great grandchildren, to share their memories of Ma. Hearing stories of her strong faith, devotion to family, sharp sense of humour, great cooking, and love of playing games was truly a treasure.
In a few months, we will be having Grandparents’ Day at the elementary campus again. Honouring Ma as we did reminds me again just how important it is for children to have intergenerational connections. I will say again, as I have often said, the value of these connections cannot be underestimated. We are called to honour our parents and grandparents in life. I pray that this is true for your family throughout the coming year.