"Life is a Journey,
Not a Destination"
Judy and I would like to thank all of you for your thoughtful notes concerning the loss of our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (langamma) Florence and our brother-in-law, Dale.
For Mom, the time had come to end a long and productive life. She had reached the stage where her day to day survival was a chore and she simply didn't want to put up with the continuing discomfort. I suspect that she stuck around for her 90th celebration to please us, and then simply called it quits. On the Saturday of her passing, she was surprisingly lucid, and held our hands tightly, then waved good-bye as we left - she always did things with such class!
For Dale, he didn't deserve this fate! He suffered nonstop for such a long while, and then had to receive the news that he wasn't eligible for a transplant due to his weak condition. It was at that time that in typical fashion, he accepted his fate and expressed the wish to get this death business over with as rapidly as possible. There is an expression to describe Dale's strength of character:
A year afterDale's passing, the following Memorial was placed in the Winnipeg Free Press by his loving family to remember this wonderful husband, father and friend:
November 9 1938 - June 5 2003
There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.
"It's just a year ago today, you had to go...you could not stay.
We waited for a miracle to come, So we could bring you home.
The lung we prayed for was not to be,
On your request, we set you free.
The time was short, you suffered much,
As time drew near, we could only touch.
God saw you getting tired and a lung was not to be,
So He put His arms around you and said, "Come and be with Me".
We each took our turn telling all we needed to say,
Our tear-filled eyes watched you suffer and quietly fade away.
A golden heart stopped beating, fun-loving soul put to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best."
Ever remembered, loved always,
Our hearts are sad...we miss our Dad!
Christopher (Alison), Rochelle (Jim), Kirk (Fiona)
Miss you, Papa!
Michael, Jordyn, Aidan, Liam, Jaxx.
The following are Mom's and Dale's obituaries, and a tribute to Dale from our son, Leif.
FLORENCE GUDRUN STEPHANSON (nee JOHNSON)
Just two months after her 90th birthday, Florence / Mom died peacefully at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg on May 31, 2003. Left to cherish wonderful memories are her son Garry (Judy), grandchildren Dan (Cyndy) and Leif (Wendy), great grandchildren Julianna and Ethan, sisters Irene and Eleanore, brother Brian and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Stephan, daughter Susan, brother Alfred and sisters Anna, Aurora and Maria.
There will be no funeral service. Florence's request (her order!) was "no ceremony or speeches, just a gathering of family and friends for a cup of coffee for old times' sake". Her desire was indeed fulfilled, as fifty of her family and friends celebrated her amazing life with her, on her 90th birthday, April 6, 2003, while those who could not attend sent their love and wishes.
Florence often expounded on the pleasures of her holidays in Calgary with her sisters Aurora and Maria and her niece Rae ("like another sister") and all the western family - especially the many joyous Christmases and the two "last hurrah" southern cruises. She would surely like to say a special thank you to her nephew Art and his wife Marg and to Judy's brother Barclay, for the happy times shared and their devoted attention over many years. She also appreciated the gentle care provided at Thorvaldson Care Centre and at the Vic.
Florence was beloved by her large extended family and by the many friends whose lives she touched. She was a perpetual optimist, always seeing the glass half-full, not half-empty, and treated every day as an adventure. She was elegant yet fun loving, compassionate yet tough. She will be long remembered for her passion for life and her personal strength through many adversities.
She leaves us with her favourite blessing:
Of memories, friends and happy hours
May blessings come from heaven above
To fill your life with peace and love.
God bless you all.
After a courageous battle, it is with deepest sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of my husband, our father and grandfather on June 5, at HSC Predeceased by his parents, Dale will be greatly missed by his wife, Nancy; his children, Chris (Alison), Rochelle (Jim), Kirk (Fiona) and his three grandchildren, Michael, Jordyn and Aidan.
Dale had many passions, none greater than his family, his cottage home and the pursuance of excellence in the WMHA program. His passing has left a huge void never to be filled.
The family extends special thanks to the doctors and nursing staff at HSC and Grace Hospital for their unparalleled caring and support (you know who you are).
To family and friends, Thank You All, for your constant prayers and love. The date for the celebration of Dale's life is June 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the Keith Bodley Arena, on 165 Sansome Ave. in Westwood. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Manitoba Lung Association for research of Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
It is no idle exaggeration to say that Uncle Dale was responsible for my very existence; and despite the distance frequently separating us, Dale exerted (through himself and his family) a pervasive positive influence throughout my life - in short, Uncle Dale, Aunty Nancy and Chris/Kirk/Rochelle helped my parents raise me.
I am Leif Stephanson, Dale's nephew, and I would like to address 3 chapters in my tribute -
1. My Dad's Best Buddy
2. The England's - Friends and Family
3. The Incident
1. My Dad's Best Buddy
First and foremost, Dale was one of my Dad's best friends and introduced my Dad to Aunty Nancy's sister Judy. Had they not met, fallen in love and begat, I wouldn't have the honour of delivering these words to you. Thanks Uncle!
2. The England's - Friends and Family
I could not tell my uncle's story without telling theirs:
Aunty Nancy - my mom's slightly older sister is so full of strength, patience and love, she is an endless source of guidance & positive reinforcement. I gained a new appreciation for her sense of humour when, during a heated Scrabble match at the England cottage, she and I challenged my mom to find Gravlax, her triple word score, in the dictionary.
Chris - like my own brother Dan, Chris let me hang out with his cool friends, and he didn't make fun of me after I became ill in the England's basement powder room (no door!) after overdoing it with the big kids.
Rochelle - our frank "how to" discussions on love and romance helped demystify an area in which, to put it politely, I lacked intuition. She is big reason why I was able to convince Wendy to marry me, despite her hearing about "the Incident" (see below).
Kirk - ah, Kirk - heart like whale, hands of an artist, he's what you would get if a mad scientist combined Jim Carrey and Bob Villa in a laboratory. I would show you one of the wonderful, sensitive letters he sent my wife and I, but because it was coated in his toenails and body hair my mom mistook it for bathroom waste and discarded it. We are two of a perfect pair.
Dale - As a hockey expert and natural coach, Dale the Bear taught me how to break in new skates by wearing them around the house with warm, wet socks. He introduced me to lacing strategies that maximized power and dexterity, and showed me the best methods to tape my stick for puck handling. I still employ these methods today. Like my own dad, by example he taught me what toughness meant on and off the ice. He taught me about exercising patience when necessary, and about not putting up with "crap". He was a natural father figure.
3. The Incident
This is now a family legend. On the eve of my cousin Rochelle's wedding in 1992, after an evening of reveling, I arrived late at their home (where I was staying) to find the lights out and the door locked. So afraid was I of disturbing my uncle, I slept (or tried to sleep) on the concrete next to their pool rather than ring the bell. He cheerfully reminded me of this interlude at my own wedding in 2000.
Dale's warmth, strength, integrity, humour, and passion were infectious, as were his pride in his family's accomplishments. I loved him a lot and liked him a lot; his bear hug greetings told me that he loved me too. I cherish his memory, and I am truly thankful that his burning, unquenchable spirit lives on in Aunty Nancy and their family - among my best friends.
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