Sunday, September 8, 2013

In Loving Memory of Mary Edna Turner

A week ago today I lost my paternal grandmother (following a major stroke 8 days earlier). She was a truly loving, inspiring and incredible human being, and I thought I'd take a moment or two to share her with you all.

My grandmother, who went by Edna, lived an incredible 85 years, 55 of which she spent happily married to my grandfather Graham. Both of my grandparents were Returned Canadian veterans who had served in active duty over seas. Edna was a dedicated R.N. Nurse, defying her role as eldest daughter on a farm in Prince Edward Island to go to school for nursing. As a dedicated Catholic, her first job as a nurse was at a Convent in PEI, but with ambition and drive to help more people and around the world she served heroically as a Flight Nurse with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Korean Air Lift (1951-1956). She loved to tell stories of stopping over in Hawaii will transporting wounded soldiers back to the US.

Later she traveled and lived throughout most of Canada, providing nursing to the ill of some of Canada's smallest and most remote communities. She even spent several years serving the Inuit communities of Canada's territories, including the world's 4th most northern settlement, Resolute Bay, Nunavut. After having my uncle and my dad (and moving around some more) she spent her longest tenure Nursing at the Durrerin District Hospital in Orangeville, Ontario (where I was born).

My grandparents retired to Hickory Hills in Tillsonburg Ontario, and I have many fond childhood memories of visiting them there, playing with their Terrier Bridie, balling yarn, sorting through knitting patterns and playing with buttons. My grandmother was a true crafter and creator in every sense of the words, with a lifelong passion for knitting, and in this I am so proud to take after her. It would be impossible to count the number of sweaters, blankets, mittens, hats and toys she knit over the years. She often completed more than 100 in a single year, giving them away, with love to her family, friends and charities.

 The collection of sweaters my grandma knit for my brother and I, along with some blankets.

She would never be without a set of knitting needles and a project on the go, weeks before her first stroke in July, she completed a beautiful blanket, and I am tasked with finishing another she had just started.

“Edna is lovingly remembered as a peaceful, gentle woman who touched the lives of many, and made no enemies. Her spirit and attitude live on in her family and in all those whose lives were touched and enriched by her loving presence."

My grandmother and I are in many ways kindred spirits. It is from her that I received much of my creativity, and love for animals. I hope I have also inherited her inexhaustible capacity for caring for others.  In many ways I also take after her in my life, moving away from home at a young age (18), traveling across this country (coast to coast), living far from home. Pursing my career before a family (it was quite unique for a woman born in the 1920s to do as much as she did before marrying relatively late at 30). I only hope I can model the entirety of my life after her, a woman who has and continues to inspire me every time I think of her. Which is and ever will be, often. You are in my heart, and my prayers Grandma.

Knitting together in 2011.

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