A couple of goodbyes
In recent years, it’s become more important me to recognize the passing of family members even if I didn’t know them very well. Or even at all.
I think it’s because of having been born in and connected with the place where all of my ancestors lived … and where my grandparents lived all their lives. My grandmothers, particularly Grandma Fenner, always filled us in on all the news about the relatives. She’s been gone since 1992, but I still feel connected to my vast collection of family members, at least in the abstract, because she talked about them so much.
So it is with sadness that I recognize the passing of two members of the Fenner family.
Robert Fenner, first cousin of my dad, passed away a few weeks ago. Robert studied journalism, was a lover of words and the first adult to tell me I was a good writer. The last time I saw Robert and his wife Patricia was at my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. It was very touching that they drove all the way from Toronto to Essex County to come see her. Grandma left us 8 months later, and I am really glad we had the party so she knew how many people loved her (although I think she knew it even without the party). Robert was also the son of my very favourite great aunt and uncle … Uncle Vester and Aunt Lavina Fenner.
The other Fenner who has recently passed away was John Wilcox, grandson of my Aunt Beatrice Fenner Wilcox. I had never met John, but I am in contact with his daughter Lisa Wilcox. We connected through Ancestry.ca since we were both looking to fill out the branches of our family tree. I asked my dad if he remembered John, and he said that yes, he remembered Johnny and his brother Jimmy. They were the sons of Aunt Beatrice’s son Oliver Wilcox, who was killed in the armed forces during World War 2. Dad (who was a teenager at the time) remembered Oliver’s funeral, which was a military funeral at Aunt Beatrice and Uncle John’s at the tracks on the Malden Road in Woodslee. The 21 gun salute was memorable, my dad says, and it was a beautiful day.
Oliver’s son John and his brother Jim were raised by their grand parents, Dad said. And now, Lisa tells me, John’s ashes will be brought back to the Woodslee Cemetery in early November, to be placed in the cemetery next to Aunt Beatrice and Uncle John.
Rest in peace, Fenner cousins.