On December 16th of 2011, my mother, Olga Henry, finished her long battle with Leiomyosarcoma. She passed away peacefully, with one last great sigh of relief, as her suffering and pain eased and she left this world to be with the Lord our God in peace and His holy embrace.
I’ve pondered this post for a long long time now. I knew that those of you who have been reading my mother’s writing but either haven’t commented, weren’t able to visit her in those last days, or be present during her funeral services or internment deserved some kind of closure, some emotional reconciliation that would close the door on this one chapter of my mother’s life–one that she chose to share with the world so that others could read and understand what she was going through, what her day-to-day life was like, and perhaps most importantly what her family and faith meant to her.
Even so, know this – my mother’s cancer was only one chapter in her life. The woman I knew and will always remember was a caring, loving, nurturing soul who prized her family, her faith, her loved ones and friends, and every single day she took a breath above all other things in the world. My mother loved life, and taught me to love life as well – she taught me to never, not even for an instant, to squander the gifts that God has given all of us, and to cherish each morning we open our eyes and draw a deep breath, knowing that even in our darkest days, those days are ripe with possibilities and opportunities. That even on those days when we don’t want to get out of bed that God is there with us, looking after us, and making sure that we never take on more than we can handle.
If you remember anything about my mother, remember these things. Her cancer and her struggle with it are without a doubt a story to be told–her strength, even in her last days, was an incredible sight to behold–but don’t let that be the only story we tell of her life.
I remember the woman who raised me, taught me to speak German when we lived in Germany, long before the Berlin Wall fell, and was involved with every aspect of my education, pushing me forward to be the person I am today. I remember the woman who welcomed me home with open arms every time–even as a grown adult–I needed to go home, who teased me that I never needed permission to make myself at home in her house. I remember the woman who sat and challenged my teachers when they wrote me off, believed in me while I studied, and celebrated with me when I proved them wrong, and then stood proudly at every graduation ceremony I had–that she made possible. I have more memories of my other than I could possibly share, and so does my father, Nelson Henry, and both of us will treasure them and keep them for the rest of our lives.
My mother’s obituary is below, just behind the “read more” link below. Her funeral was attended by loving family, neighbors, friends, and others whose lives she so deeply touched, and condolences were sent from far and wide by even more who will cherish and remember her. Thank you for sharing this blogging experience with her, and thank you for sharing this last post with me. God bless.
You can read the obituary here, or see below:
On December 16, 2011 Olga (Simmonds) Henry, 67, departed this life and went home to be with her Lord after a battle with cancer.
Olga was born and raised in North Preston, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on May 17, 1944. She was born to the late Edward and Florence (James) Simmonds. She was educated in Nova Scotia and later pursued further education in the USA. Olga was the Assistant Director of the childcare center at NSA.
Olga was a Christian who loved the Lord and showed it in her everyday life. She always made people feel comfortable with her contagious laughter.
Olgaâ€™s son and her devoted husband of 35 years meant the world to her. She loved to write, cook, work with tech and gadgets, and sing and entertain with family and friends.
She will be greatly missed but her spirit and memories will live on forever.
Surviving Olga are her husband, Nelson; son, Alan; siblings, Blanche (Joseph) Czernon of Ontario; Victor (Oneita) Simmonds of Nova Scotia; Sheila States (dec. Marvin, Sr.) of Nova Scotia; Stella Vaillancourt of Nova Scotia; Gilbert (dec. Peggy) Simmonds of Nova Scotia; Cora (James) Fraser of Nova Scotia; Mary (Howard) Williams of Nova Scotia; Ernest (Irma) Simmonds of Nova Scotia; Lois (Joseph) Bruer of Roanoke, VA; Julie(Daniel) Smith of Nova Scotia; Juliette (Rodney) Thomas of Nova Scotia; Nelsonâ€™s family of Johnella Fleming, Maurice(Reneâ€™) Henry, Trudy Carter and Sylvia (Robert) Kemp; special God Child Jason Vaillancourt and a host of special nieces and nephews, especially niece Keisha who helped out during her illness. She was preceded in death by her siblings Leon (Louise) Simmonds; Wilfred (Gloria) Simmonds and Eric Simmonds.
A celebration of life tribute service will be 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at Heffner Funeral Chapel & Crematory, Inc. with Pastor Roy Carnahan officiating. A viewing will be from 1-2 p.m. prior to the service. Burial will be in Ft. Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 924 N. Colonial Ave., York, PA 17403.
The family would like to thank her church family at Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene, as well as the nurses, doctors, and staff of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Medical Center, and AseraCare, who all helped out during her illness.
For more information on Leiomyosarcoma, please visit this article at Wikipedia, or visit Leiomyosarcoma.info.
Help us all beat cancer. Stay informed, and stay involved. Please consider donating to The American Cancer Society.
Thanks for sharing Alan! You’re an excellent writer – I really felt it … brought back many fond memories that I have of Auntie. I’ve kept all of our little emails … especially the ones where she’s encouraged me to go for my goals and keep my head up. She may be gone, but will never be forgotten. Just thinking of her brings a smile to my face.
Alan, you are simply amazing. The gift that you have just shared with the family, friends and loved ones is so touching and heart-felt that I was deeply moved.
I loved to read Olga’s writings; she was such a loving soul. I thought of her fondly just yesterday when I snuggled under a little yellow knitted throw that she made for me a few years ago.
Thank you for this post. I think it settles the hearts and minds of many knowing that as you so eloquently stated, there are so many good chapters in Olga’s book, I simply choose to remember the best ones. Much love, peace and blessing. Aunt Sylvia