1933 - 2011
Our mom, Glenda Keith, was born November 26th, 1933 and was the fourth child to Leona and Fred Roach. She was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan into a family with three older siblings: Hal, Muriel and Gladys, and one adored younger brother, Barry. Although mom shared many stories about how difficult the times were for her family during the early years, she always managed to have a positive outlook on her life as a child, and enjoyed many friendships and fun adventures. She shared stories of hitching a ride with a toboggan on the back of a horse team only to discover they couldn’t get loose and were pulled a long ways out of town; of skating at the outdoor rink until her toes were frozen before she would finally be forced by the cold to head home, and many stories about how special it was to receive new clothing or shoes, as this was such a hardship for many families back then. These experiences gave her that great appreciation for the little things in life. Her mother made all of her clothes or they were hand-me-downs until she was 12 when she received her first new outfit.
When Glenda was 14 her family made what she would refer to as ‘the best move of their lives’ when her oldest brother Hal, convinced her dad to move to Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island. She felt like they had moved to a dream land of flowers and beauty; there was work for her dad, and she was so proud and thankful of how her parents had a much easier life in their later years.
This move to beautiful Vancouver Island is likely the seed that started her love of gardening. Mom was well known for having beautiful flowers and her lovely yard was enjoyed by all. She would often plan her summer around when her flowers would be in full bloom, and many of us were on 'water duty' in her absence.
Mom was always very outgoing and had many friends, both girls … and boys during high school - she enjoyed these years immensely. She was part of a graduating class that still meets regularly on the island and keeps up with one another. She received many calls and letters from these friends right up until her last days.
After graduating – Mom and her best friend Molly moved to Chilliwack – where they roomed with 3 other women - all young teachers, and surprisingly – 2 of them were from Dawson Creek – an unheard of place to mom at the time. She worked as a secretary at Fraser Valley Frozen Foods and it was during this time that she met our dad, Stan. She and dad met officially at a dance and he soon became a big part of her life.
Mom and Dad were married on March 17th,1956 in Duncan, BC and they moved onto the family farm in Chilliwack BC, which dad was helping to run. Over the next few years Glenda gave birth to four of her five children while living in Chilliwack.
Mom worked incredibly hard as a farm wife as she helped to run the many aspects of the farm, worked full time in town, and raised five children: Wayne, Doug, Hal, Sharilyn and Shauna, who was born in Dawson Creek. Throughout our lives and particularly during the last few months, mom made a point to tell each of us how special we were to her and that we were the absolute loves of her life, however, this was already known. During a summer day while enjoying the view from her deck she remarked: “I'm not sure what I will be remembered for, but I know for sure that my greatest accomplishment and the thing that I feel most proud of is the fact that I raised 5 wonderful kids.”
Mom had a special relationship with each of her children, their spouses and her grandchildren, and this was reciprocated. Each one teased that they were her favourite. She especially cherished her grandchildren and loved every minute of her time with them. She made a point to try to go to every significant event that she could and understood the essence of each of their personalities. In later years, the grandkids would stop by for no other reason than to hang out with her.
Glenda had an amazing number of friends and acquaintances with which she always kept very busy. We are sure she had over 100 best friends. This was the essence of mom as she had the ability to make everyone feel that they were the most special to her. She had an incredible sense of humor and loved to laugh. Her quick wit and love of laughter provided countless memorable moments which she shared among many. She was most noted for, and teased about the fact that she loved to talk. We laughed as we looked through pictures as in many she was talking. On one of her last days when she was short of breath, she managed to say with smirk on her face, “Wouldn't the ladies laugh if they knew that I couldn't talk!”
She and Stan were very involved in the church for over 46 years, and this has played an important role in her life throughout all of her years. She loved to sing in the choir since she was a very young girl, and choir practices and performances continued to be the highlight of her life.
She met weekly with her close friends as part of her weekly bible study. These ladies were a close knit and supportive group throughout her life and gave her strength throughout her illness. She loved her friends from the Landry W.I., a fun loving group of ladies, and especially remembered her times helping to put on the 'Night of Country Sounds' years ago.
Throughout her life she was involved in many other groups, from the dairymen's association, the CNIB group and the latest red hat lady gang.
During her early years in Dawson Creek, Mom worked as a Secretary at Frank Ross School in the days that it was a Junior High, then after the birth of Shauna she got a job as a Court Recorder. She loved this job for years as it enabled her a bit of break from farm life, some good money for those days, and some freedom to be able to do more of the things she wanted to do.
One of Mom’s most favourite places on earth was Hawaii – in particular Maui. She took several trips with many different people and often stayed in the same place – after a while she got to know many of the regulars and this was always the highlight of her year. She relished her opportunities to spend time at the cabin at One Island Lake, or a short camping trip with dad and friends. She loved to return to Vancouver Island, and if it weren't for her family, would likely have returned for longer stays. She enjoyed her visits with her sister Muriel, in Kelowna as well as her visits with the relatives at the coast.
Mom was a very strong woman, and this was evident in many events in her life, but most memorable was during the loss of our dad in Nov. 2003. This heartbreaking loss proved to her again how strong a family can be when they all pull together to get through a difficult time.
One of her proudest moments after dad passed away was to buy a motor home, find a willing friend with a driver’s license (… that would be Claire!), and head off on a trip across Canada!
Mom was a survivor, and when it came to her health, had a few times in her life when she overcame insurmountable challenges and returned to her comfortable life on the farm. She had a will to live that was incredible. After her diagnosis with cancer, she was very ill and it was thought that she may not survive the summer. Not only did she survive and enjoy every day of that beautiful summer, she also booked a beach house on Vancouver Island for 10 days in September and had her brother Barry and wife Janet, sister Gladys, and the five kids all join her for a few wonderful days. What made this especially precious was that her sister Gladys passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 28th. Mom made it through one last Christmas and was wheeled to the kitchen to oversee the stuffing of the turkey and the food preparation.
The family wishes to acknowledge Shauna for her incredible dedication, commitment and love for Mom during these past few months. Without Shauna giving up her life on the island to return home and live at the family farm, we are not sure what we would have done. This allowed mom to live comfortably during her last few months on her cherished farm, surrounded by her family, flowers and pets.
Mom leaves to celebrate her life, her five children and their spouses and her 12 grandchildren. Her brother Barry and wife Janet, and numerous nieces and nephews. We feel so blessed to have had her as our mother.
We will miss her dearly, and we know that we will carry her spirit forward in our lives.
In all that we have learned from our mom we hope that we can move forward with confidence as she taught us how to live life. How lucky were we? Mom will be forever in our hearts.
A memorial service was held on January 12, 2011 at the St James Presbyterian Church, Dawson Creek, British Columbia.
Expressions of sympathy in memory of Glenda, may be made by donation to the ‘Canadian Diabetes Association’ P.O. Box 2361, Dawson Creek, British Columbia V1G 4T9.