At the end of 2015, the McDonald family lost two of our beloved Aunties. On November 9, our Aunt Maggie passed away at 442. Less than a month later, her sister Rose joined her on December 1. Maggie has been with Rose her entire life, and the ladies have always lived together, often sharing residence. Both women were laid to rest in the family cemetery at Sheep Creek, just a short ways away from the home they have shared for several decades. After living their entire lives in the Toad River Valley, both were able to live out their final days there as well. In my heart, I know that is where they would have wanted to be. A big thank you goes out to Mark and Irva Steward of Toad River, BC for looking after our dear Rose, allowing her to stay in her familiar surroundings, at the same time staying safe, warm and comfortable. Their love and kindness has really gone above and beyond and we can't thank them enough!
I will always remember my aunts for their hard working nature and feisty attitudes. These were the last, honest to goodness "bush women." Women who lived their entire lives in the bush, only recently starting to use generators for power, and 'indoor' plumbing. They sat by the campfire and drank tea, gathered firewood and water, and literally worked their fingers to the bone. I am at peace knowing that the sisters were only apart for a very short time, but at the same time my heart breaks knowing that we are losing our elders and this way of life is truly going to be gone. I smile every time someone stops me on the street, or in a restaurant, to tell me that they stopped to see the 'old girls', that they stopped to drop off magazines, or meat and fish, to just say hello. Many times, people would walk away with fresh moose meat or drymeat, or unused Christmas gifts that the girls had; that the way they were and the way they were raised, if you have something, you share it. It's a trait that we are seeing less and less of, everyone seems too worried about getting ahead, about better their own lives.
I hope when people think of these strong, fearless women, they are reminded to grab life by the horns and do what you need to do. To practice the Golden Rule and take time to reconnect with your past and nature. Stop and breathe. Go outside in the evening, take in the silence and the stars. Stare at a crackling fire, and learn to enjoy your own company. Step away from the rat race and enjoy life and the little things that matter most.
Although the campfire has gone out (I still love that one, thanks Auntie Linda!) I know we will meet again.
(I'll see you later)