20 August 1924 – 9 March 2017
How do we honour a life? How do we honour this life? I don't have the definitive answer.
One thing that I do know. And I know it because I've had many conversations with the other men in this family; my fellow brothers-in-law. We have often talked to one another about how lucky we are to have married into this family. Lucky in so many ways. The women that we've married. The mother and father in- law that came along when we joined this family.
Margaret - and Ralph too. Both so incredibly welcoming. So ready to develop a strong relationship, develop a friendship, to develop family. With all of us.
So how do we honour Margaret? I guess, in a way, each of us will have to figure that out for ourselves. Each of us will come to this in there own way. But for me, in one way, it's in the telling of stories. And stories come in many different ways. Some come first hand. Others come when they are told to us.
Long ago one of the first stories that Elizabeth told me. I think it might have been even before we were married. But it's a story that kind of set the canvas for what becoming a member of this family was going to mean. It's one of my favorites.
Now I have to paint a picture here for a minute. When the Morris daughters were quite young; Margaret and Ralph would pile everyone into the car and take a summer vacation. They'd go camping somewhere. With all the children in tow. In one tent. It always involved a long car ride. And one year in the early 1960's it was decided that they would drive to Winnipeg. Now Margaret grew up in Winnipeg and so did Ralph of course. And Margaret was very excited about the trip. All the memories she had, she could now share some of those memories with her children.
They drove from Edmonton, thru Saskatchewan and entered Manitoba. Everyone knows that Manitoba is a prairie province. It's flat over there, very flat here and really, really flat everywhere else. And as they neared Winnipeg Margaret, all excited, said to her girls, "Look everybody, it's Riding Mountain National Park." Now I also grew up in Winnipeg so I do understand this next part. But from the back seat a chorus of little girls,
"Mountain? Where? Mountain? There's no mountain here. Why is it called Riding Mountain National Park" (Remember - they we pretty much used to living in Alberta by this time. They knew what mountains really looked like.)
But these sniggering, wicked little girls started up,
"Don't you mean Riding Bump National Park? Riding Pimple National Park? Riding Wart National Park?"
And Margaret, being Margaret took the bait. Looking all hurt and a little flustered said, "But we all had such fun there when I was your age."
More sniggers; Riding Boil National Park. Riding Blister National Park? Riding Blob National Park?
More recently when Elizabeth and I would visit Margaret at The Cridge where she lived for the last 6 or 7 years I noticed something that I think was very Margaret. By this time she was loosing her memory. But when people stopped her in the hallway, boy! She would give someone a huge hug and look right into their eyes. The way only Margaret could. Deep and searching. And people would respond to that. You could tell it really meant something. Who wouldn't? And then we would continue walking and we would ask, "Who was that?" And you know she wasn't always able to tell us who it was. She just related to people in a very deep and loving way. It was remarkable.
So in many ways Margaret will always be with us; in conversations, in our thoughts and in the stories that we tell.
But before I sit down I'd like to turn this around just a little, if I may. There are people here today who did remarkable things for Margaret over these last years. Catherine and Paul. You really looked after things. You made sure Margaret was looked after, that she was comfortable, cared for. All I can say is Wow! Patricia and Keith. Same thing. Lots of ferry ride back and forth. Victoria Coquitlam and back again. And I have a strong memory of a recent visit to you house in Coquitlam when Margaret was there. And I remember Margaret and Keith walking quietly together in the back garden. And Keith stopping every so often to point something out to Margaret and to explain something.
And there are others here today too. Elizabeth and I live out east and we haven't actually met many of you. But I know there are people here who visited with Margaret, took her out for walks, lunch and to church. Margaret was a very lucky woman to have all of you here. Looking after her.
I'll end with a quote that I recently heard. I've changed it just a little to make it a little more fitting but it remains largely its own.
Have them all bury my picture underneath spring flowers and when they do they should make a wish to the world