They walked, wrote and remembered.
The 100 Mile House Hospice Palliative Care Society estimates close to 100 people participated in a self-guided Hospice Winter Walk in Memory of Your Loved One, last Friday, Jan. 29. Sixty notes, cards and even flowers were left in the paper bag lanterns lining the one-kilometre trail at 100 Mile Marsh, Hospice organizer Sarah Smith said.
“It was steady all afternoon. At 6 o’clock there were still a couple of groups at the trail,” said Smith, who has worked with the Hospice Society for the past 12 years. “I was really overwhelmed with emotion when I picked up the lantern bags. I didn’t read any of them but I could see artwork on some. It just seemed so needed.”
The event was held to offer people a chance to mourn their loved ones, especially with no public venues available during COVID-19. The inability to visit loved ones in long-term care, compounded by the lack of funerals and memorials – or any gatherings – has made the feelings of isolation more acute in the community.
Smith later burned the offerings, which included everything from store-bought cards to thick envelopes.
Sylvia Wilson, accompanied by her friend Sharon Ellermann, left a note to her daughter Cindy, who died in May 2019 from cancer. She was 58. “She was a wonderful person. She loved everybody and she was really energetic,” Wilson said, adding her daughter loved to ride her bike and run marathons. “She lived a good life. You know what they say ‘only the young die young.’”
Further down the trail, Donna Roots wrote a short message on her daughter Kristen’s memorial card before she slipped it in one of the paper bag lanterns. Kristen was 37 when she died of a fentanyl overdose on Oct. 29, 2018. Roots was walking with Don Alberts, who was remembering his daughter Angela Lascell, who went missing from Mackenzie on Nov. 5, 2019. Police have no clues to her disappearance.
“One day she was gone,” Alberts said. “No activity on her bank account, nothing. She would have been 35 (today).”
The pair also paid tribute to Tanara ‘Tee’ Goeson, who recently died in 100 Mile House.
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“She was a really big help for us when Kristen passed away,” Roots said. “We started going to NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings. She was just starting in NA at the time and she was always there with a nice smiling face and getting us to read stuff. She was a big help to us.”
Janna Dileva also remembered Goeson on her walk. “It’s very sad. She was very well-loved and respected in the community.”
Dileva said her son-in-law Jimmy Young, who is in critical condition in hospital following a snowmobile accident on Simon Lake, was also in her thoughts. Young hit a large bump on the ice and crashed, rolling the sled several times. Dileva thanked the community for showing “so much love and support” to Young and her daughter Kayla, as well as Young’s parents who have “come through a very difficult time.”
“I heard a lot of people speaking and they were so blessed by the memorial walk,” Dileva said, commending Smith for organizing it. “It was a lovely, beautiful thing she did for the community. Her words on the trees were very comforting.”
Smith said she heard from a lot of people on the trail who would like to have the walk become an annual event. She’s considering it, she said, noting she has seen a lot of ways she can improve the walk.
“I’m just so thrilled there was a positive response and a great takeaway from it,” she said. “January is such a hard month anyway. There was a lot of mourning work going on out there.”