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Obituary

BETTY HEDLIN (published on May 09, 2009)

BETTY HEDLIN Betty Hedlin died in Toronto on May 7th, 2009, far too soon for her family's liking. She had a stroke at dinner with her friends in Christie Gardens. Betty apologized to the wonderful nurses at Toronto Western Hospital for causing a fuss . Her children - Paul, Susan, Catherine and Victoria - gathered and over the next week we said our farewells. She told us how proud she was of her children and grandchildren, how much she liked her son-in-law's hamburgers, and how fond she was of her great grandson, Gabriel. We're proud of her, too. Betty Hedlin had wonderful manners, and she was brave about the big things. She grew up in The Gibraltar Rock , the pub her mother owned in Tynemouth, England. During the Second World War, she drove a truck as a member of the land army. After the war, she married Ralph Hedlin, a Saskatchewan-born member of the RCAF, and returned with him to the harsh prairie winters of the Hedlin family farm near Renown, Saskatchewan. As a young and glamorous wife and mother in Winnipeg in the 50s and 60s, Betty provided the home her children's friends always wanted to visit while her husband built a career in journalism, politics and economic consulting, When her marriage ended, she saw her two youngest daughters through school as a single parent, and then set out to make another new life for herself on the West Coast. Over the next 30 years, Betty's life in Vancouver's West End was filled with friendships and fierce independence. She spent time at the community centre, helping people who had been battered by life. She walked miles near her beloved ocean and in summers she delighted in the daily gatherings of the girls - a happy group of women of a certain age - on the beach at English Bay. She never missed an episode of Coronation Street or her hair appointment every other Friday. As her 80th birthday passed, declining mobility limited her walks. The ranks of the girls were thinning. She decided she could no longer stay alone in her little West End flat and agreed to move East to be closer to her children. We think she was surprised at how happy she was in Toronto. Her home - Christie Gardens - lived up to its motto A place you can have faith in : the warmth, kindness, and competence of the staff were a Godsend. Her friends - especially Maud and Peggy - made lunchtime a lively event she always looked forward to. With her daughter Susan's house only two blocks away, after 30 years of living alone, she was an active member of a family again. Her children visited frequently. She spent time with her grandson, Matthew, and great grandson, Gabriel, and grew close to both. Sasha, the family dog, made much of her when she walked over for a cup of tea. We all thought she had another few good years in her. Not so, as it turned out. Betty asked that we arrange no service and that we scatter her ashes at sea off Tynemouth. We will be doing as she asked, and we'll miss her. We think she'd be pleased if anyone wishing to mark her passing made a donation to Christie Gardens, 600 Melita Crescent, Toronto, M6G 3Z4, or to the Toronto Western Hospital Foundation, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M5T 2S8.


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