|Auntie Agnes as a little girl|
She was my mother’s oldest sister, born in 1926 and departing this life last Friday, August 17th, 2012. Auntie Agnes had a long and productive life and was well loved by our family and by her community.
I remember what a berry-picker Auntie Agnes was—summer days she would often pick up Mom & me and we would head to a Saskatoon patch for an afternoon of picking. As a child, I remember tiring of the task quickly and I was always amazed that Auntie’s enthusiasm never seemed to flag. But there were always cool, shaded places to find, the smell of crushed horsemint underfoot and the satisfaction of avoiding the nettle patches. The reward at the end of the day was the Saskatoon pie.
Another fond memory was Auntie’s lipstick. I always thought how sophisticated she looked, wearing that lip colour. It’s probably a measure of how much I admired her that I never step out the door to go to work without putting on some makeup and finishing up with a bit of lipstick. I’m still trying to be like her.
One of my favourite vacations was a long drive, taken with Auntie Agnes, Uncle Vern and my cousin Nancy. We drove down through the United States, visiting Yellowstone, Colorado, New Mexico, and Missouri. Uncle Vern swore that we were trying to see all the big rocks in the United States (and we did see some nice ones!). Auntie enjoyed some of the small restaurants that we found along the way and trying menu items that were strange to a bunch of Canadians. We still talked about the buffet where deep fried chicken livers and chicken gizzards featured. We all enjoyed stopping to examine crops and talk to farmers that we ran into on our travels. Whenever there was an interesting sight on the roadside, she was always game to stop and see what we could find out about it. That willingness to take time to look at things and to be curious stayed with her for her whole life.
The whole Andrews family seemed to have a passion for gardening, but Auntie Agnes was particularly devoted to it. Even after she and Uncle Vern moved to town, she maintained a small garden plot and enjoyed her pots of flowers. She and I also had a love of birds in common, and whenever I would phone her, she would regale me with stories of what birds were visiting her backyard feeders.
Auntie Agnes also loved her community and was very involved in the running of the Arboretum and the Trochu Museum. When I researched one of my university history papers in the newspapers in the Museum, she practically glowed with pride. And I know my sister Shannon has fond memories of working at the Museum for a couple of summers and getting to spend quality time with Auntie Agnes and family.
At the beginning of March this year, I was staying at the house on a quick overnight visit. Nancy and I were lodged in the basement and I had been reading for a little while that morning, listening to the comfortable sounds of Auntie & Uncle puttering around in the kitchen. Suddenly an enormous thump brought both Nancy and I to attention and we heard a weak little voice asking for help. We ran upstairs, dressing as we went, and found Auntie laying on her back in the hallway. She had become dizzy, fallen and was in pain. Thankfully, an ambulance arrived within about 15 minutes and she was taken to Three Hills hospital emergency, where it was eventually determined that she had cracked her pelvis. I was so glad that I was there at the house to keep her company while we waited for the paramedics, cover her with a blanket and find her glasses for her. It took a couple of weeks, but she was happy to return home and I was glad to see at the beginning of July, when we all went to the Trochu parade, that she was using her walker (for walking and not just to hang clothes on).
It’s ironic that Auntie Agnes and Uncle Vern had just received word that there would be room for them very soon in the lodge in Trochu. In the last few years, Auntie said she felt lonely and isolated some of the time, not being as mobile as she used to be. I think she would have enjoyed being able to walk out her door and find an acquaintance to visit with. On the other hand, she wasn’t quite sold on the whole idea of leaving her house and yard. Perhaps this was her way of saying, “I don’t choose to move.”
What ever the case, we will all miss her very much. She and Auntie Grace were the last remaining Andrews siblings. Now Auntie Grace is the last of the Mohicans, an unenviable position to be in. I find myself comforted a bit in knowing that her siblings Russell, George, Roxie and Lela, Grandma & Grandpa Andrews, Great-grandma Farley, cousins Eleta Mayes, Ralph and Don Carr, among others were in the crowd waiting to receive her. She will never feel lonely or isolated again.
|Auntie Agnes and Uncle Vern on their 60th wedding anniversary|