By Ron Baker
I walked into the Post Office and noticed on the ledge a number of death notices. The local funeral home carefully and appropriately advertises these deaths. Local citizens inhale the names, dates and service times. Some names are totally unknown and our curiosity wonders about their lives, their adventures, their loves and ambitions.
And then . . .
The next card strikes you. We know very well the life that has been lived. Our curiosity is now overwhelmed with personal data and we are struck with grief.
My mother, Mary (Merritt) Baker passed away on Wednesday, January 12, 2023. The last week of life was a struggle but well managed in her palliative state. As a family we are thankful for a care home with strong life affirming values. The code purple honor guard, where the body is escorted from the facility past the staff and administration, was deeply respectful. They will truly miss my mother.
Mom was born on July 21, 1932. Her birthplace was a small town in Ontario called Smithville – which almost sounds like the ultimate generic village of white Europeans. Her father was a well driller (and water witching was a part of the trade). Her mother was a piano teacher and homemaker. Mom was the youngest of six children – four boys and two girls populated the home.
By twelve she was living with her brother, close to the local school. At 14 she began to live on her own. Various accounts have her, at 17 or 18 (her birthday would probably have been close to this time), trekking across the country to take up a position as a department head in the Zellers store in Calgary.
On the way across country she stopped in a small Saskatchewan town. She was enticed to become a nanny for a family around the Kindersley area rather than pursue a career in sales. In the next year or so she was also found working in the local hospital.
A young man, just entering his thirties, took note of this young lady. Within months they were an “item” and married on November 3rd, 1951 in the parsonage of the Kindersley Alliance Church pastor on Seventh Avenue. The wedding date had to be flexible to accommodate the harvest season—but by November 3rd they were not waiting any longer.
A year later, a first child was born. By 1959, the family had six children. Another chosen child was added in the late 1960s. Seven children made for a hectic but homey family.
Mary’s occupation was as a homemaker. That term has fallen into misuse if not derision in some circles. Not in mine. I know what the job required. Strength, wisdom, administration, teaching, and so many other talents were needed. The seven children became artists, writers, teachers, pastors, construction workers, accountants, world travellers, mathematicians, and academics . . . with a few more side-hustles that were just fun hobbies. Mom was also a painter. Her love of selling such products as Amway and Avon was as much for the people contact as the commission.
There were many themes that ran through mom’s life. Here are a few.
“There’s always room for one more.” Whether at the dinner table or overnight. Whether of high stature or lowly hitchhikers. “Generosity is a gift”. Give more than you get and you will benefit. “Creativity is next to godliness.” What you haven’t thought of yet is what you should think of next.
Grief has a mixed scent. As the cloud of aromas die down, I am enjoying the sweetness!
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