Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adelaide Pearl Ash

(This is what I wrote for Owen to say at the Celebration of Mom's Life. The bit about when Dad was ordained to the dianconate is Dad's contribution.)

Adelaide Pearl Ash
January 27, 1927 - December 11, 2009

Mom was a storyteller. She could take just about any situation and make a story out of it, often with a light and humorous touch. She also did not like things to be long and drawn out. In honour of our mother we have decided to keep those two things in mind as we celebrate her life.

When we think of our mother, it is hard to think of her without thinking of the very deep love she shared with our father. It wasn’t always that way. When Dad first moved to Peace River when he and Mom were twelve she nearly had the hair pulled out of her head by a friend when Mom refused to agree that Dad was a pretty great guy. However, her opinion changed.

On their 60th wedding anniversary Dad stood up to speak. He spoke of his love for Mom. At that moment a picture was taken of the two of them. Every word that Dad was saying was more than visible on Mom’s face as she gazed up at him.

Dad always claimed that when he would look at Mom his heart would skip a beat. We thought it was just a metaphor. We were wrong. When Dad was in the hospital a few years back, in CCU, Mom walked into the room to see him. Katherine was right behind Mom and noticed that on the heart monitor Dad’s heart literally missed a beat as soon as he saw Mom.

Mom loved to read. When the children were small she would sit with them and read to them. One of the books she read to Norman was the Dog That Wouldn’t Be. There were times while reading it that she would be laughing so hard she couldn’t continue. She told little vignettes out of that book and would laugh just as hard each time. When Sean was little and Mom and Dad took care of him after school, she continued her practice of reading to children.

Mom read for herself as well. She constantly looked for ways to stimulate her mind. She read all genres of books. She took university courses. And each morning she did the crossword puzzle.

There were some interesting edges to Mom as well. She was very competitive. She was upfront and honest in most contests though except party games. Ann Marie remembers attending a bridal shower once put on by the Jessie’s. It was after Mom and Dad had moved to Nipawin. She was sitting by one of Mom’s best friends, Betty Mauchel. They were working on one of those typical party word games. Betty leaned over to Ann Marie and told her, “We sure miss your Mom. She cheated the best of us all.”

Mom would not back down from a fight. She was stubborn and certainly had her own opinions. The family was on a vacation in Vancouver one year. They were driving from their campground in Surrey to Simon Fraser University. Mom and Dad had one of their regular arguments about Dad’s driving. Dad abruptly pulled the car over to the side of the road, turned to Mom and said, “All right. You drive.” Mom wouldn’t give an inch. She got out of her side of the car and walked around and took her place in the driver’s seat. We made it to our destination with only one wrong turn. Later, when we visited Dad’s nephew and his wife, Carol was horrified to think that Dad would do such a thing. Mom just lapped up all the sympathy.

Often when Mom was involved in something like reading she lost touch a bit with the outside world. Many were the times the family had to resort to yelling, “Fire!” to get her attention. And sometimes even that didn’t work.

One of Mom’s gifts was hospitality. She served numerous meals both to friends and to people in need. She was always conscious of the possible needs of others. When Norman first brought Sheila home to meet Mom and Dad, it was for a supper. Mom was a aware that Sheila might be somewhat uncomfortable meeting them for the first time so she invited friends of Norman and Sheila for the meal as well.

Mom was marvellous at food presentation but there were a few times it didn’t quite work out. One Christmas she decided to bring in the Christmas pudding with it aflame. She doused the pudding with rum and set a match to it. She then carried it festively into the dining room. The problem was that the tray was stainless steel. The flame soon superheated the tray and Mom was hard-pressed to get the pudding to the table without dropping it.

The concern for the needs of others also showed itself in her social justice work. Mom had a list. On this list were a number of companies and corporations she believed were not practicing good social justice. The biggest problem was that Mom never wrote this list down and there was a lot of fluidity to the list. When taking Mom on a trip one never knew which gas station to stop at just in case it was on the list. This also extended to food processing corporations and clothing companies. For a while the grandchildren had to be very careful which brand name clothing with logos they wore around their grandmother.

Mom’s care did not stop with human beings. She was forever sneaking treats to the various family pets. Katherine finally had to threaten Mom with the vet bills if she continued to give tidbits of human food to them. She would then give Mom a few doggie treats to give to them. The dogs all knew that Mom’s presence meant treats and cuddles.

One cannot think of Mom without thinking of the years she spent in ministry with Dad. From the very first she was every bit as much a minister as Dad and Dad will often say that she should have been the one that was ordained. It is in this role in her life that many people first knew her and then discovered a wonderful, talented, compassionate friend. It is telling that Mom and Dad still receive Christmas cards from people in all the parishes they ministered.

When Dad was growing up his mother prayed that he would become a minister in God's church and then left it to God to respond as God would. In retrospect it would seem that one of the ways that God worked to answer that prayer was through Mom who expressed a strong feeling that the two of them should go into some form of full time ministry, and encouraged Dad to give some serious thought to that possibility. As time went on the sense of being called grew and at the same time took a somewhat different shape. As a result Dad went off to college for four years and Mom was the sole support of a young family of three.

When all this came to fruition in the service in which Dad was ordained Deacon, Mom, at the age of 29, was shocked to learn something she had not counted on -- the wife of a deacon was supposed to be -- a godly matron!

One of the things Mom adamant about was that things should not drag on. There are so many stories that we would like to share to continue to show what a wonderful person, friend, wife, mother, and grandmother our mother was but in honour of her love of brevity we will leave you with the few already told.

Love and Prayers
Ann Marie

1 comment:

Tim Chesterton said...

I knew her when I was working in Arborfield 1979-84, and they were in Nipawin. My condolences.