Monday, May 5, 2008

Aunt Elsie...

Well I haven't blogged for awhile. My excuse is that I ended up going to Quebec to go to my aunt's funeral and was a "victim" of dial up internet and routers that weren't working while I was away plus spending time with family and friends. First, let me take a moment to talk about my aunt. My aunt was the first one in either of my parents' families to go to university and get a degree and as was typical of women of that era, she became a teacher. My grandmother had wanted to be a teacher and due to family circumstances was unable to, but she made sure all her daughters had an education, the first three daughters became nurses, and finally my aunt became the teacher she had herself, wanted to be. My father, the only son, was a mechanic.

My aunt taught high school and then married and had six children. When my oldest cousin was 12 she went back to teaching to support the family. For the next twenty years she taught elementary school in Arvida, and Richmond, Quebec. She said that to her teaching wasn't work, having six children and a farm was work! My aunt loved teaching. I have had several people who worked with her tell me that she was the best teacher. One of my favorite stories was a new principal complained to her that her bulletin boards were messy and she told him,"They're not my bulletin boards, they are the children's." Later he apologized for this comment when he saw what she accomplished with her students. I remember once going to pick her up when she had had parent interviews, watching parents leave looking so happy because she was a teacher who truly knew and valued and expected the best from her students.

She had 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Summers, there were always grandchildren visiting and they were given a schedule. They read with her, practiced the piano, worked in the garden, helped prepare meals etc. She never really retired from teaching. And books. My aunt had more books than you can imagine. She loved books. Just before I left I head the author of the latest book on Emily Carr speak. One of her favorite trips was when she and I visited Haidi Gwaii. I thought how she would have enjoyed another book about her favorite artist.

As she lay dying my cousin, Bruce read her her first favorite book, Heidi, to her, when she was no longer able to read. She also managed to watch most of Sense and Sensibility which I had taped for her recently from PBS. Much credit to my cousins who enabled her to live to the very end of her life in her own beloved home. My aunt had an incredible zest for and appreciation of life. I will miss her.

2 comments:

The Mysterious Mrs. Jackson said...

Hi Meredyth,
What an inspiration your aunt was! Lucky were the kids who had her as a teacher. I identify with her because Heidi was my first favourite book, too! How wonderful for her to have it read aloud to her in her last days.
Thinking of you and wishing you well,
Melanie

jcarlton said...

I understand your love of your Aunt. I have heard many stories of her life. She was lucky to have so many of her friends and family to support her during her life and during her passing. She was a gracious lady
Joanne