Sadly, on Friday, August 21, we lost the matriarch of our family. While the loss in terms of relationships is immense, the history that has now been closed for us being able to tap has been closed off as well.
Flora was the living, tangible link to her grandparents, my great grandparents. She knew them. She could share their quirks, the way they related to each other, to their siblings, their children and ultimately to her and her siblings. Listening to her helped me to understand so much about our family and our family's history.
Flora was the eldest daughter of my grandparents. When she was young, she was very closely connected to my grandfather's children by his first wife, Sarah. Those girls loved having a younger sister and they spoiled her. She remained connected to them their entire lives and in recent months, when she wasn't feeling confident about her future, she would say how much she missed them and the feeling of safety that they surrounded her with.
Flora knew everyone's emigration story because she was the anchor in the storm. Everyone started their new life in Canada in the safety of her home. She housed them. She fed them. She shuttled them. She assisted them in finding a job and she never once complained. Nor did she push them to move out once they were "on their feet"
In later years, Flora was the arrival point for family coming to visit - many at her expense. Again she housed them and fed them. We all gathered at her home the night they arrived and again the night before they left. While they were visiting, Flora allowed all of us to gather at her home as frequently as we wanted. She never complained about the added work, the added people or the added expense. She just took it all in stride. Coming from a family of 19 siblings meant that some summers, she hosted visitors from May until September.
Flora inspired my love of cooking. Flora inspired my love of baking. Flora inspired my love of words (oh those endless games of scrabble!). But most importantly Flora taught all of us what it means to be a family. And that lesson is immeasurable.
I know that there was a great big welcoming committee waiting in Heaven for her arrival. Her parents, her siblings, her cousins and her beloved husband. That brings me a measure of comfort.
Rest peacefully, Flora. We will take it from here. We will work to continue to honour your life by sharing the stories and the memories.