Jul 29, 2014

IN MEMORIAM | Connie Farquharson

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There is just so much I want to say about my dear aunt Connie. Her recent passing has left an empty spot within me and so many, many others.

Born and raised in Renfrew until I was almost 10, meant quite often “Auntie Connie” was a lot like a second mom.  I was my mother’s first baby, while Connie was on her 5th (and final) kid at the time - my wild cousin Bobby - who was born only a few months before me. Good thing my rookie mom had her much experienced big sister to turn to for mothering tips.

I spent plenty of time at the Farquharson’s family farm back in the day. There were pigs and cows and cute little baby chicks. There were also plenty of chickens and eggs to sell and it never ceased to amaze me to see the entire Farquharson family doing their part in the process. Everyone had their job and Aunt Connie and Uncle Don had taught them well.

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My most memorable visits to the farm were falling off a pony, playing at the creek and seeing a chicken with no head run down the lane.

I would play in the sandbox with Bobby while kinda wishing I was inside doing “girlie” things with Jeanne and Cathy. I’m sure I fooled no one.

Time spent with my aunt Connie and all my Ottawa Valley relatives would be suddenly limited when my family dynamic changed in 1970 and we ended up in St. Catharines minus a dad and plus a step dad.

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None of this mattered to Connie, whom we visited often and who came to St. Catharines many times. We were just as close as in my childhood days, something we shared throughout Connie’s remarkable life.

I stayed in aunt Connie’s apartment when I joined my mom, her companion Bob and my sister Kim went to Renfrew to attend the funeral. It was somewhat surreal to be there, but nice to be able to see the place one last time.

I am going to miss my aunt so much.  No, we didn’t see or talk to each other every day. But it always felt like she was there and somehow always would be..  

Fond memories are comforting, but they’ll never be as good as the real thing. The genuine article. Connie Farquharson, daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, great-aunt and a true-blue friend.
Rest in Peace my iconic aunt. I will always love and remember you.

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Written and read by Connie’s daughter Cathy Dick

Mom was born on February 13, 1932 to Ivan and Rose Simpson. She grew up in Renfrew and was a wonderful big sister to Joan and Judy.

Even though Joan settled in St. Catharines and Judy in Sault St. Marie, mom was always there for her sisters.
As a young girl, two of mom’s favourite pastimes were skating at the Renfrew rink and sliding down Old Man Pete’s Hill.
One of her first jobs was at the Renfrew Creamery where she met Dad at the young age of seventeen. They were married on October 10, 1951 and would settle on the South McNaughton Line. Mom was just 19 when she married and had five children in seven years Jim, Doug, Jeanne, myself and Bob.

Though she had no experience, this small town girl quickly embraced farm life. She was soon spotted driving a tractor, bailing hay, tending her garden, canning food and caring for all sorts of farm animals. And as mom would say, “Sweatin’ like a hen drawin’ rails.”
When the baby chicks arrived to the farm she would keep them warm in the kitchen before they went to the barn. We would collect, wash, candle, box and get the eggs ready for sale. Once the hens were no longer laying eggs ... and found themselves laying on the chopping block, mom didn’t stop there. She’d collect the feathers to make us pillows and have the bird ready for Sunday dinner.

Some of our fondest memories were swimming in the creek, climbing in the barn and playing baseball with the Donohue’s. She would warm our clothes on the old wood stove and make us porridge for breakfast and welcome our friends with open arms.

She was always so classy, as she strolled into this church with five kids in tow.

As kids, we spent many Saturday nights at the Renfrew Drive In Theatre where she would smuggle in popcorn and juice for us to enjoy as a family.
While growing up on the farm, nothing ever seemed to faze mom. Jim was hit by a truck, Doug went through the ice, Jeanne fell off the hay elevator, I got run over by a car and while trying to burn the wings off a fly, Bob nearly burnt down the house.

We kept her busy tending to our cuts, bruises, broken bones and possible concussions to which she would say, “Just go lay down and have a rest.” This probably would not pass today’s medical standards, but, by some miracle, we all managed to survive.

Many a Saturday night, you would find mom and dad, and their close friends, Murray & Marj and Alec & Helen playing cards at the kitchen table. As the always gracious hostess, mom would have a luncheon prepared with sandwiches and squares.

Mom and dad enjoyed travelling to many places such as Nashville, Portugal and Argentina, just to name a few. They also spent many winters in Florida. Even after dad passed, she was up for any adventure her sisters or friends would suggest they go on.

Mom is fondly remembered by her ten grandchildren – Mandy, Janet, Erin, David, Nancy, Ken, Megan, Amy, Brandon and Courtney.
They have shared many special memories of mom. They loved swinging on the tire swings, playing bingo to win prizes, learning how to play cribbage and euchre, and running around the yard to find items that she had hidden for a scavenger hunt.

The grandchildren always looked forward to Christmas gits that would be made up of beautifully knit socks, embroidered pillow cases and hand-made quilts.
Mom had the longest telephone cord in the history of all time. This was to ensure that she could multitask while chatting to her friends and family. She would be seen with the phone perched on her shoulder while ironing, peeling potatoes or mending a sock stretched over a mason jar. And at the end of every conversation we would hear her say, “Bye for now.”

Long before recycling was popular, mom had it all figured out. She wrapped gifts in the funny pages, reuse paper bags, save jars, cans and margarine containers. She also saved the baby bonus for a whole year, just so we could go to summer camp. Once a saver, Always a saver – For instance, I recently discovered 13 frozen bananas in her freezer that she had planned on using for making banana muffins. She also saved every newspaper clipping, picture and card that involved her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Mom continued to live on the farm after dad passed away in 2000. She always said to us, “I’ll know when it is time to move into town, when I’m no longer able to manage the place.”
So when she drove the ride on lawn mower up the trunk of a maple tree, she realized that the time had come.

Once she moved into her apartment in town, the calendar on her fridge door was always filled with activities from playing cards with friends, volunteering at the hospital and the food bank and family birthdays.

She was a lady who wore many hats, but vibrantly sported her red one while chumming with the Red Hat Ladies. She enjoyed participating in many of their fun activities and outings.
She was also a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, part of the Ladies Aid and a Sunday school teacher.

The Farquharson family gets together to celebrate every holiday and milestone birthday.

There is usually enough food to feed a small army & mom always made the most delicious pies. For some reason, there always seemed to be one left over, with Doug’s name on it.

She took such pride in her precious great grandchildren.  Jack, Ethan, Dylan, Ainslee, Jacob, Aislyn, Lilyann, Tia and Emerson Rose. They referred to her by many names, “Great Grandma, Super Grandma, Mrs. Grandma and GG.”

One of mom’s classic phrases was “Off in a Cloud of Heifer Dust” and she was thrilled when author Brent Connelly borrowed her catch phrase to title one of his most recent books.

Nine years ago, mom underwent double by-pass surgery. She had six stents put in her arteries and for the past two years she suffered from pulmonary fibrosis. As a result, she was unable to leave her apartment and take part in the many activities she enjoyed.

For the past three months, Hospice Renfrew was her home. She touched the staff and volunteers with her wonderful wit and sense of humour.

We are so grateful for the outstanding care that mom received.

She was a very special lady who will be greatly missed.  We love you mom.
Bye for now.
Read by daughter Cathy
Memorial Service, July 26/14

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