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Publication: Globe and Mail, The add link
Issue: 4 September 2008, page L6
Web Link: link


Mother. Born Oct. 18, 1906, in Hamilton. Died June 21 in Chatham, Ont., of complications related to blood clots, aged 101.


September 4, 2008

Edna led an ordinary life within an extraordinary world. She experienced the exchange of the horse-drawn carriage for automobiles, lived through the First World War, was an eyewitness to the great influenza pandemic, survived the Great Depression and the Second World War, and watched as the technology of the 20th and 21st centuries exploded. She remembered it all clearly, even as a centenarian.

Edna hid the fact that she was forced to leave school after Grade 8, a source of great personal regret. It was her dearest wish to become a teacher, but like so many others of her generation she had to enter the work force to help support her seven siblings. She compensated by becoming a prolific reader.

At an early age, she and a sister were given the full care of infant twin brothers. Not yet in her teens, Edna learned to wash heavy cotton bed sheets in a wooden tub and became an expert cook using a wood-burning stove.

Edna did not marry until 41. She became pregnant in her late 40s with her only child, a daughter. Having a baby so late in life was unheard of at the time, and when she told her mother she was pregnant, her mother responded by telling her she was "a fool." But Edna, with her typical quiet strength, carried on and raised her child, who eventually became a teacher.

Edna liked to bowl and remained the treasurer of her bowling league until the age of 88. An inexhaustible knitter, she provided her family and later the community with colourful sweaters and mittens. She earned spending money by decorating cakes for special occasions and preserved countless jars of jam and pickles in the thick summer heat.

While she never embraced computer technology, Edna did learn to use a microwave and watched movies on a portable DVD player. She gained a great deal of renewal over her lifetime from her involvement in her church. It was a constant factor in her life even when, at 90, she left her home and friends in Hamilton to move to an unfamiliar city to be closer to her daughter.

Within her day-to-day existence Edna faced an unimaginable variety of challenges and changes. While in her 60s, she underwent major ear surgery as well as foot surgery. She had casts on both legs and had to learn to walk again.

While the activities of her life may read as fairly unremarkable, no words can capture the quiet grace with which Edna lived nor the love of learning and fearlessness that she gave to her child. She will be fiercely missed for the power of her spirit, her unconditional love and her radiant smile.

Janice Adams is Edna's daughter