Sometimes there are people that you meet in life that exemplify a life well-lived. One of those people was my friend Edith. I had the good fortune of meeting Edith Paul on September 4, 2014 when I went to the home she shared with her husband Albert to interview her for my first book "Farmwives in Profile". She was recommended to me by the wife of her grandson as being the perfect candidate for my book that celebrated farmwives for being the hearts of their families and the hearts of their farms.
From that very first meeting Edith and Albert quickly became "favourites of my heart" with the way they finished each other's sentences, the way she laughed at all of his jokes (often containing a colourful word or two), and their pride showing me the letter they received from the Queen for their 65th wedding anniversary. "That means we're goddamned important", pointed Albert. We laughed through their answers to the interview questions for my book and they asked about "my story" too. In fact, Albert quizzed me on where (and who) I came from and what brought me here before we did the book interview. Interestingly and serendipitously, he knew my grandfather who passed in 1955 and was the only person outside of family that was able to tell me anything about him.
Our friendship continued after that fall day, but sadly Albert passed before he could see that book in print. Edith and my friendship continued though and I witnessed her going on without her love. She stayed in that same two-bedroom suite for a while, but then moved on to a one-bedroom, then later, into the Pioneer Lodge. Such an unfathomable loss for most of us to imagine - that person whom you share your life with for so many years being gone. The feeling and experience that only those late into their golden years endure. She had a large circle of family around her though and the respect and love was obvious.
For five years I would continue visiting Edith for tea, often bringing my daughters. My girls quickly fell in love with her like I did. They would play blocks while Edith and I would visit and I would hear updates on all of her kids and many of her grands. Twenty-two great grandkids and fourteen grandkids. She was so proud of each of them. Edith proved that no matter how old your children are... as a mother you always worry. She shared the trials and tribulations of her family because they were never far from her mind. She was devoted to them and they were to her.
Over those tea dates and over time, Edith grew to fill the gaps in for me of whatever (or whomever) I was missing. A grandmother, sometimes a mother, she would often share with me advice I didn't even know I was looking for. She was always the sweetest friend. She always teased me about "those pictures" I would take. But, I always knew how much I would treasure them. Especially now - as I have been looking over them this last couple of days since she's passed. I'm so grateful for that introduction, because it's been such a joy being a part of her life this last five years, and it's been an absolute gift having her be a part of mine.
My girls and I will continue to visit, only now where you'll be laid to rest beside Albert. Your name was already printed on the beautiful rock on the headstone... as you joked: "it just needs the date now". On July 15, 2020 many hearts were broken with your loss but warmed because you're finally back together. My love and condolences to the entire Paul family, you loved her well.