Pillars of the community lost

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It is with sadness I read about the passing  in the last several months of such extraordinary women who were true "pillars of the community" - Gladys Patey, Dulcie Penney and Ethel Penney.

I remember them all so well as they were contemporaries of my mom. They truly gave so much to the community.

Not just  to the town sports days, but for events at Grenfell School  (does anyone remember Miss Layman having all of the mother's make our school choir gowns from bleached flour sacks?!) and  their contributions to Community Club, which met Thursday nights - the only night I think my Mom ever went out and Dad babysat (sort of).

One thing I remember is when they made Easter baskets for all of the patients in the hospital. I felt so privileged when I was allowed to help with that task.

The last time I took my mom to St. Anthony there was Ethel beaming at us from the United Church choir loft.

I know that Alzheimer's has affected so many. My mother suffered from dementia and I wrote this after we moved her into a secure care facility in September 2005. She passed away in 2006.


I packed up my mother's life today

In boxes of cardboard

And plastic containers.


A Baby Book,

A High School Yearbook, 1937

Three quarters of the boys buried in Europe.

Her writing beside the photos

"Killed RCAF"


Wedding photos and old letters

Christmas cards and old address books

And childish mementos of

My sister, my brother, and me.


How can a life be so reduced

That was so fully spent

By a woman so organized

So seemingly in control

Of herself, us, our family,

Our house, her life?


Then came sudden death.

Grief, Shock, Despair.

Losing a life.

Making a new Life.

Eleven rooms become two.

Then one.


"I crossed the bridge over the river"

She said, "but your father wasn't there"'


We punch in the code

1234*, my sister, my brother and I

For us to get out,

And we leave her there,

Locked in

Waiting for our father

To come and get her.


Paddy (Thomas) Simpson


Organizations: Grenfell School, Community Club, United Church

Geographic location: St. Anthony, Europe

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