With heavy hearts we announce our mother’s passing on the evening of September 4, 2019. For ourselves alone we grieve because Mom is at last free of the pain that encompassed her final year on Earth. Sadly a large volume of knowledge, history and memories are gone. We can no longer turn to her and have our questions answered.
Mom’s life was not an easy one. At the age of 11, she lost her mother and at 18, when her father died, she gave up her job at the Fort Frances Bakery to care for her younger siblings on the farm. When she and Dad bought the grocery store and billiard hall in Sundown, adding the café in the early 1950s, Mom’s naturally reserved personality had to adjust to life in the public realm. Her work ethic was a positive example to us.
Her high energy level, physical and mental strength served her well. Mom took care of the business, tended a garden the size of a hockey rink and was a working member of the Sundown Ukrainian Catholic Women’s Assoc. When she moved to Steinbach in 2006 she continued making perogies for the 55 Plus and volunteered at the public library.
Mom had found her “happy place” in the Sundown 4-H Club as a leader from the mid-50s to head leader until 1985 when the club folded. She had a creative bend which had manifested itself in sewing and crocheting. In later life she found her passion in quilting. We have several pieces of her work and treasure her crocheting masterpieces produced before her hands could no longer work the hook and thread. A sample of her work hangs in the palliative sitting room at Vita & District Health Centre.
She enjoyed her food and kept up to date with the latest superfoods, baking her special nutritious muffins that were full of good things. We were always repacking our suitcases to fit in the rations of perogies, fried onions, beef leaf holubchi and anything else she may have thought we needed.
She took pride in watching her children grow and take their places in the world… though we did put her through a few bumps in the road which severely tested her. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren lit up her face like nothing else could. Plants were another source of pride, growing well with her “fool-proof fertilizer concoction”. The 12-ft high sunflowers and hollyhocks in Sundown were a wonder.
Mom enjoyed travelling and saw Canada from the Maritimes to Vancouver Island, frequently visiting Montreal and Alberta. Her first long distance trip was to Hawaii with Dad. She went on an Alaskan cruise with friend Marie, took several local bus tours, visited her sister Marie in Alabama, cousins in South Carolina, Minneapolis, Radisson, SK. She travelled to Ukraine on a tour in 2000 and again, in 2010 with Pat.
A significant challenge at 90 years of age was her sudden total loss of hearing, coupled with a general misunderstanding around deafness. This was a hard blow. Her foresight into a time of total silence, had led her to enroll in computer courses and learn to type in her 70s. She would have been otherwise cut off from the outside world, unable to communicate with anyone. Her friend Evelyn bought her a Boogie Board, taught her to use a smart phone and to text. With a large collection of bitmoji spicing up her texts, Mom was able to keep in touch with anyone having a cell phone or computer. When we telephoned, Mom talked to us and we texted back our responses.
The last surviving sibling, Mom was predeceased by Dora, Frances, Lawrence, Cynthia, John, Mary, Peter and Sophie. She leaves behind to mourn, her children: Pat (Marc), Jim (Denise) and Jackie (Rick); her grandchildren: Tamara Wiebe & Corey (Sonja) Wepruk, Laurier & Patrick (Natasha) Chabot, and her great-grandchildren (Micayla, Shayda, Jadyn, Ryleigh Wiebe). Her Fort Frances brothers and sisters in-law Paul (Alice), Bill (Dorothy) and Stan (Elma) Wepruk and the many nieces, nephews and cousins will miss her, especially sister Frances’s children to whom she was much attached: Mary, Johnny, William (Heidi), Gary (Paulette) and Vickie (David).
We wish to thank Dr. Karen Toews and Dr. Olha Ulanovych who took special care of our mother, as well as the nurses at Vita District & Health Centre who gave care with a personal touch to her daily life. Special thanks to Mom’s friends, the best friends that anyone can hope to have: Evelyn Schellenberg (and her family), Bill and Marie Klassen who were also our eyes and ears when we could not be present.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 12, 2019, at 11:00 am at the St. Elias Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Sirko, MB, followed by a meal at the Sirko Hall.
According to Mom’s wishes, her ashes will be buried next to her parents’ graves.
In lieu of flowers please give a donation to your favourite charity.