Elizabeth Miller Purdon delighted all who knew or met her. For those who knew her well could say looking back over her long life, that she had loved, she had made a difference and she mattered. She lived by simple rules and lived her life by example.
These two guided her:
“If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it”
“Put a smile on your face, no one wants your troubles for they have plenty of their own”
She rarely complained about the life she had had nor as her health slipped in her advanced years. Instead, she lifted her spirits and those around her with her cheery disposition. I believe that is why she was so loved. She was a fighter, resilient, and a warrior woman but most of all was her big heart.
Family was so important to her and she strove to give her “girls” everything she had not. Mum did have a big family until the age of 6. Her mum died, her dad unable to cope with the two youngest, mum and her brother Jimmy discovered an orphanage was to became their home. She did lose touch with her brother but he did come to find her along with his best friend. The best friend later became our Dad.
The Past Remained There
Mum never spoke about her past, preferring to keep it locked away in her own personal vault. Her past being too awful to share so she didn’t. She could have become angry and bitter instead she chose to be happy and to share her big heart and not close it down.
She lived “the law of attraction” long before it was known. If you want something you have to give it to another first. She became a children’s nurse and loved the sick unwanted children in her care, and they loved her back.
It’s Never Too Late
Mum was fiercely independent and went out to work at a time when women were considered homemakers. She would return to school, teaching us “that it is never too late”. Her new career ended after many years when the car industry collapsed in Coventry but that didn’t deter her, she found a new passion.
She turned her love of children, telling stories and crafts into a new position – it was to help single mums with young children to sew and learn to interact with their children. Mum was even featured on the BBC telling her beloved stories to children as they acted it out with the characters from the book she had lovingly made.
Another Country and New Life
Mum was selected to come to Canada as a young child but fate intervened and she never did get to go but it had stirred a longing in her heart. This longing would be passed onto me for when I came to Canada the restlessness I had always felt inside had gone. Ever courageous, mum and dad immigrated to Ottawa after dad retired.
They were always hopeful my sister and her family would join us but circumstances intervened and that didn’t happen. She never said if she regretted that decision but I know it was hard for them both to have their children in different continents.
Memory Loss Takes Over
As she advanced into older age she could be heard telling anyone that
“She had been there, done that I wrote the book.”
Mum also claimed other’s accolades as her own. Again, saying
“She taught them everything she knew.”
These two would become her social graces as she slipped more and more into Alzheimer’s. Mum was amazingly good at covering up her memory deficits and only those close to her would know. She would ask about each grandchild and we would patiently and lovingly answer her questions over and over.
“How is their love life” she would ask us. However, there were times when she would ask the person themselves and at times this didn’t always go down well.
Using Age to Her Advantage
If she forgot something or couldn’t do it, she would say “I’m nearly 90 you know”.
Mum drove us all crazy with her refusal to wear her hearing aids and missed out on many conversations. It was sad watching her world became ever smaller. She did delight us and the staff by actually agreeing to wear them and for about two weeks life was pretty good until the hearing aids went missing. Never to be found!
Holding Hand after 60’s Years
Mum and dad could be seen walking to the mall hand in hand – everyone remarked “how sweet” mum would reply, “no, not at all, it was necessary – we hold each other up”. When Dad died, mum agreed to using a walking stick. How about a walker we would suggest. “Oh, no they were for old people”.
Mum lived her life and when met with challenges she accepted them with grace and turned them around.
End of an Era
The good Lord as she called her maker came to get her on Halloween, a perfect time. A time for children, treats and fun – which is what she was all about.
She was the heart and the pull to home. This will be felt no more. No more tales to tell her grandchildren, no more “hows your love life” heard.
The little women with a big heart is now silent. We will all miss you mum and nan.