Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nadiene Nielsen

Photo courtesy Kerri Singh at
Nadiene Nielsen passed away early this morning. Mother to some, grandmother to others, friend, confidant, aunt, cousin, sister ... to me, a sister-in-law.

I search back in my memories, trying to find facts about her.

Instead I am overwhelmed with feelings.
Photo courtesy Kerri Singh at

I met Nadiene in 1960, long after these beautiful black and white photos were taken.

By the time I knew her, her life was in full techni-colour.

She was Kelvin’s oldest sister, she had a little family and she lived on the other side of Barnwell.

Now I can do that math and see that I have known her over fifty years – known of her, but even more, known her. She opened her arms and heart to me.

She was more than a sister (in-law). She was a good friend: frank, honest, and sometimes when I would study her face, I would see that she was guileless when she talked to me. Who couldn’t have loved that.

Nadiene and Lawrence
Photo courtesy Kerri Singh at
Mostly my life has been touched by her kind words, her deep insights, her practical sense of what to do next, her desire to make a meal, to help with a quilt, to succour the grieving or the tired and weary.

Some of this I saw first hand. But I was often overwhelmed when I would hear second hand, the facts I already knew about her.
Back Row, LtoR: Ralph, Bev, Sharon, Preston, Maurine
Front Row, LtoR: Betty, Kelvin Molly Nadiene
Photo courtesy Kerri Singh at

Knowing she would soon pass away, and on a walk with Rebecca and Bonnie, we decided to tell “I remember Nadiene” tales to one another. The beauty of the walk-and-talk was not that we told each other the facts.

Some of the vignettes were pull from memories that are so far in the past we no longer know the truth from the fiction. “Did this really happen?”, someone asked. “I know I have some of the facts mixed-up, but those are the memories I carry about her from my childhood.” Whatever our memories have coloured, or remember in black and white, what seemed to wash over us was the incredible warmth the three of us felt towards her.
Family Home
Photo courtesy Kerri Singh at

My own mother died before I was 30. I have always looked to the generation ahead of me, to find the pattern of what is expected of women in the decade ahead of me. Nadiene showed me that there is no slowing down as the years go by – that life can be lived as richly in one decade as in another.

Will I miss her?


Today the words I want to say can’t seem to get passed the lump in my throat and be richly articulated.

That always happens when I lose someone I have loved so much.