This past week, someone very special passed away. Her name was Agnes, but to us, she was always Aggie.
We met Aggie at work, where she was a phenomenal Education Assistant – the kind of person you hoped would be in your classroom because of her positive energy and amazing attitude. Students who worked with her believed they could do what they needed to do, even if they struggled. She had a way of putting things in perspective so they didn’t seem so overwhelming. And with Aggie by your side, you felt you could do anything.
That’s why it meant so much to us when we started a family – we were typical first-time parents: anxious, unsure of ourselves, and looking very much like a couple of deer-in-the-headlights whenever our baby would cry. Aggie, with her endless compassion, took pity on us (although she would never say it this way), and embraced our family with so much love. She was the first person to watch Alison when she was a baby, which became the first of many times my children would spend time with her.
She and her husband Tom became surrogate grandparents to Ally and Ethan, always a phone call away – when the kids were sick, when we needed advice, when there was a birthday party, when we were celebrating a milestone, when it was a good day to feed the chickadees up the Lloyd’s Lookout trail, when the kids were upset and needed to talk through a problem… over the years, the list became endless. Because family is like that. Aggie proved that you didn’t need to be related by blood to be family.
We were devastated when we learned that Aggie had cancer. The cruel disease didn’t discriminate in any way, and there are no adequate words to describe how we feel about its ability to target someone so precious.
Now that she’s gone, the only way I can work through my grief is to imagine what Aggie might do. And she was a doer. She was constantly volunteering, giving back, helping others, and proving that love is action. So I will try to follow in her footsteps using the skills I have and hope that it is enough to bring some light to share with others.
Last year, Aggie’s birthday provided my family with an opportunity to donate funds from studio sales to the Northern Cancer Fund through the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. It meant so much for us to know that Aggie was receiving such great care, thanks to the work they do.
This year, 50% of my studio sales will be donated to healthcare in Aggie’s honour. 25% will be donated to the Northern Cancer Fund, and 25% will be donated to the Palliative Care Unit at Nipigon District Memorial Hospital. I’m so grateful that we have access to such excellent care in our region, and I hope that I can contribute in a small way.
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On December 25th, I will donate 50% of the proceeds to our area hospitals.
I hope that Aggie’s family knows how much we’ve loved her, and we are so grateful that she was a part of our lives. She was our Mary Poppins.
She taught me how to love better.