I have a bit of a weird habit. Ok, I have a few but this one is a bit odd for someone of my younger years ( 🙂 ). When I get the Globe and Mail, I tend to read the obituaries. Why ? Partly because I’m nosy and enjoy reading about people. And partly to get prepared. To gather ideas. To add detail where I might otherwise forget. Not for anyone else but for myself. This will be the last chance to tell my story and I want to get it right. Because at the end, all we have left is our stories.
Now as I write this, I see how it could be misconstrued that I’m somehow suicidal or fear my impending death. Not so. For all intents and purposes, I’m happy and healthy. Could stand to lose a few pound but I’m not in danger of breaking my chair. But I do like to be prepared and I like things done my way. Wouldn’t it be horrible to go out of this world and not get the right send off ? I say we shout about what we’ve done much like those in the Globe. None of those paltry five liners for them. They have full on, this is who I was, 5 paragraphs of personal history. Now we’re talking. And so, without further ado:
Born in St.Jerome, Quebec to Mary and David Barrass, I spent the rest of my long life living up to my birth announcement: Her Majesty Has Arrived. Following behind was never my style as I was usually leading the way. Get it done was my motto but do it with love was my life’s message. Nothing is worth doing if you don’t do it with a glad heart. Or at least have a REALLY good friend to complain to when the glad heart is hard to find. My mother was my rock, my inspiration and the best Nana my two kids could hope for.
Lover and friend to my husband of over 60 years, Michael, I was blessed to have chosen wisely in my life partner. Our children, Thomas (Gwen) and Vanessa (Ben) were adored, nagged and raised by a mother who was their staunchest advocate, loudest cheerleader and biggest admirer. Gizzy to Katie, Archie, Bronwyn and Reagan, I loved my grand-babies as fiercely as their parents before them. Younger sister to Christopher who spent many years adding chapters of rivalry, love and laughter to my story including his lovely wife Jodi and much loved nephew David.
Never one to live solely for myself, I gave back to my community in many ways. Life was not complete without volunteer work so I could have the chance to lead by example. From parent committees, to Sunday school teacher. From hospital volunteer, to Girl Guide Leader, I gave willingly of myself to anyone in need and received far more than I gave.
Baking was synonymous with me. My passion for creativity and sugar was expressed through many cakes, cookies and candy that always made the party a bit better. None better than the parties I was happy to throw for family and friends to celebrate all of life’s valuable moments. Recipes, like advice, were only a guideline and sometimes both required an extra dose of sweetness to make them palatable. Second only to sugar was my passion for life seen through a lens.
Michael and I scratched our itchy, wandering feet by exploring new cultures, cuisines and continents. Gathering friends, stories and photos along the way, we laid our feet upon many shores during our long and happy marriage. Nothing says devotion like spending a night in a haunted castle in Scotland or rappelling down the cliffs in Columbia. My love, you gave me so much to be thankful for.
After a long and successful career in communications, including owning my own agency, Creative Voice Communications, the student in me decided to go back to school to pursue a career in marine biology. My PhD completed at 56, I went on to work for some of Canada’s most prestigious aquariums. My proudest accomplishment was being instrumental in the development and implementation of the retraining and release program for all large marine mammals in captivity.
Never one to let others do for me what I could do for myself, I have written this final goodbye as an act of love and thanks to my amazing family, wonderful friends and countless colleagues who have enriched my life beyond imagining. You have all been in my heart and I hope that you will carry me in yours until it’s time to tell your story.
Whether it was sudden or after a lengthy battle, as we all know I’d fight, the end result is the same: my story is done and I have come to the final chapter. Remember me with laughter. Remember that poking the bear isn’t a bad thing. Remember that if I lead the way at some point in your life, I now walk beside you, grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of your story.