Monday, February 25, 2019
The funeral for mom (Ann Estill) will take place 10:30am Saturday 2 March at Harcourt United Church at 87 Dean Ave., Guelph. A reception will be held at 12pm at the University of Guelph Arboretum which is accessed off College Ave.
Should you wish to make a donation in Ann’s memory please consider Brain Tumour Foundation at https://www.braintumour.ca/6915/donate-now
or to the Nature Conservancy https://donate.natureconservancy.ca/page/25744/donate/1 .
My brother Lyle wrote a good FaceBook post on her life:
I lost my Mom last night. My brother Jim found her dead on the floor this morning. That’s all. Gone. I got the word mid-morning. Arlo and I were working on Hempsmith’s tax return. I was making scones.
It was a cold, rainy, miserable February day. Our phones don’t work in our house—so taking calls involves walking around outside in the rain. Horrible. My cell phone exploded with the news. Wet feet from pacing about the lane in my slippers taking and making calls.
I embark on the long drive to Canada tomorrow.
Mom was born in 1931. Ann Aurelia Wilcox in Highland, New York. She married my Dad, Don Estill, in 1953 when she was 22, and launched four boys into the world. I never really called her Annie. That was an affectionate nickname used by Dad, and by her little sister, Boo Boo.
When I was in high school Mom completed her Masters of Divinity and became a minister. I had a front row seat. She did a booming trade in funerals. I used to call her “Burying Annie,” and she loved the moniker.
She was a feminist at the dawning of the movement, and I got to watch her get kicked about by the male dominated systems of the day. She would spit out a sermon using “inclusive language” and get run out of town on a rail.
Mom was an intellectual. She loved to read. And to learn. She told stories. And loved the arts. From her I received the gift of gardening. And bird watching. From Mom I learned about theatre. And radio.
She loved CBC radio. I remember her crying as she ironed and listened to the news in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was shot. I was playing with her spools of threads beneath the ironing board.
Ann was a homemaker. A stay at home Mom who kept her boys in homemade cookies. She mended socks. Picked out wallpaper. Submitted recipes to Gourmet magazine. And she raised her boys with a linen fist. Mom refinished furniture. Stenciled old things. She revered “stuff” from the past, and kept a close eye on her ancestors.
She was a keeper of photo albums, a maker of scrapbooks, and a writer of memoirs.
Mom buried her first born son, my brother Mark. And she buried her husband Don—who shared a bed with her for 61 years. She also buried her first born great grandson, Zafer. I have a bittersweet memory of her at Zafer’s memorial. She came out on stage as a dottering old woman. But once she was at the microphone, she laid it down. Like she always did. She was a deep introvert with a vast intellect that could spit wisdom when needed.
Lover of poetry. Lover of nature. Lover of family.
I had a wonderful conversation with her the day she died. I had her laughing. She would call it “being in stitches.” That same day she had a great conversation with Aunt Boo Boo. And she raved about a wonderful email she had received from Arlo—who had shared the lyrics of one of his newly written songs.
Mom was 88. She had lost a lot of her hearing. And a lot of her vision. She had stopped driving. Lost a lot of mobility. She battled brain cancer from 1982 until yesterday. One time she sought surgical treatment in London, Ontario. At the time I was a student. It was the only time I ever saw my father cry. He was so scared. We all were. Mom made it through.
I’m going to miss her. Our family has lost its matriarch.
I talked to Boo Boo today. She said that Mom was having multi-colored hallucinations at church. Walls were becoming alive with strange images for her. Maybe it was the brain cancer that took her. No one knows how she died.
But I’m going to say it was a good thing for her. She was lonely from the loss of Don. And she resented her loss of capabilities. She dropped dead at home—the way everyone should go.
Mom’s golden. She’s been released. The harder part is for those of us who are left behind. We get to search for the path of the “living.”
Rest in peace, Mom. Here’s hoping there is no bursitis on the other side...