Alice, beloved mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousin and friend left our world yesterday, May 5th 2022, to rejoin her loved ones in the ever after. Sixth of twelve, Alice was predeceased by her siblings Dot, Phil, John, Frank, Emma, Tom, Glen, Rose, Joyce, George and Isobel, as well as her parents Sarah and Alfred and several nieces and nephews who died too soon.
Mum was the first of the Airriess children born in Saskatchewan, on the dirt floor of her uncle Darcy’s home outside of Togo on St Patrick’s Day 1921. She was premature and tiny, kept alive in a shoebox with fireplace bricks to keep her warm.
In 1943, WWII, with four of her brothers overseas and one already POW in the Pacific, Alice, never more than 20 miles from home, signed up with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, 3000 of whom would be stationed overseas during the war. She was in London first, keeping track of “the boys”, making sure we Canadians knew where they were and what their status was, and sending tough letters home to families when servicemen were reported either missing or, very sadly, killed in action. After D-Day, while the war was still hot, she and her unit were moved forward to Antwerp in Belgium, where she and three others would become the only Canadian servicewomen injured in the line of duty in WWII when a V2 rocket blew up the building across the street from where they were working, spraying them with shrapnel and broken glass.
When her brother Glen showed up on the wounded list she and her best friend Edna set out and found him in hospital, by hitch-hiking across Europe, mostly with American officers in their jeeps, while the war raged on.
After the war Alice was a dietician, a teacher, an adventurer and a mother without compare. I spoke to her every day and just can’t imagine how to fill that void of not being able to call her anymore. Never would I show up with an unannounced friend (or friends) for dinner with no notice that she wouldn’t conjure a hearty meal for all - harking back to her youth in the Great Depression on The Farm when no caller would go unfed.
Mum loved to walk and hike, to read and talk the ear off anyone she met. Until her vision went she was a formidable scrabble opponent and she never lost her sense of humor. She treasures all of her family as well as all of her wonderful friends - you know who you are - she loves you all and I do too.
Her passing is such a blow to my family and me, and to everyone who knew her and didn’t expect this. She bravely fought through a broken hip and resultant surgery earlier this year and was ready to go home to her physical home, instead she has gone home to her spiritual one. We will all love and miss her, and I hope that everyone reading this will find solace in the love that Alice had for you and her wish that you should be at peace with her passing and in your life.
All our love to all of you.
Chris and Family, May 6 2022
According to her wishes, Alice will be cremated and her ashes interred, at a later date, near many of her loved ones in the cemetery of her home town, Togo, Saskatchewan. A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday May 27th at 2 pm (outdoors if possible) at the Mount Pleasant Community Center, 602 22nd Ave NW, Calgary, AB.
Since 2009, when she gave up our cherished family home, Alice lived at the Manor Village in Huntington Hills. The wonderful staff and other residents there smoothed her transition from independent to supportive living with dignity and grace and truly are a community with heart.
The last weeks of Alice’s life were spent in the orthopedic recovery unit of the Dr Vernon Fanning Center in northwest Calgary. The care team there are unfailingly patient and treat all in their charge with compassion and love.
Finally, Mum’s later life would have been much poorer, and mine nearly impossible, without the love and support of our dear friends here in Calgary, especially: Diana and Roger Leach, for 53 years as close to family as it is possible to be; Pauline Menard, who just celebrated her 14th friendiversary with Mum on April 8th and was there for every appointment and occasion, a truer friend I can’t imagine; and David Bininda (my “brother from another mother”) and Anita Fryters, always ready to help out with anything anytime including eating Mum’s apple pie.
I wish I could call out everyone who was dear to Alice but the list would be too long. My heartfelt thanks and love to everyone who was there for her and made her world a better place.
Alice was a long time supporter of and donor to The Mustard Seed, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness. We are very grateful for flowers received already, but as an alternative you may wish to consider making a donation in her honor at www.theseed.ca.
The Mustard Seed
102 11 Ave SE, Calgary AB T2G 0X5