A womyn who “ruled” my world

I think I’m finally ready to write about my grandmaman Anna Arès (born Courteau) who past away 4 hours and 20 minutes after her 91st birthday last December.  Four days after xmas. I was so lucky to spend Christmas eve with her in her Stony Plain hospital room. Just her and I embraced the night together; I held her hand, played Christmas music and repeated Joyeux Noel about 50 times, hoping that just maybe she knew she was not alone on this very special night. Special because she hosted the most amazing gatherings on this day as a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. A most memorable night I feel most grateful to have been a part of. How lucky am I! It was a priceless night I will never let go of.

Anna Ares

I want to share who she was and who I believe I am as a result of her influence on my life.

Anna was born in a pioneer town of Saskatchewan called Zenon Park. A town that will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer. A celebration she wanted to attend.  A town she visited for the last time last summer. Who goes on a road trip at 90? She did. And I’m glad she went. It wasn’t an easy trip to say the least. Her bladder cancer was coming back and I can’t imagine the courage it required to travel with the pains and struggles of such a weak bladder.

Her family started from scratch in Zenon Park. They were hard workers, what pioneer wasn’t? She was the eldest of her family and assumed many responsibilities growing up, as many elders did, assisting with some of the responsibilities of raising a family.

Her dad was quite a leader in the community and she inherited some of these traits as a womyn. She pursued her studies as a nurse and knowing her as an elder I can see how that choice was so fitting to who she was. Anna also worked at a little store her family owned and this is where she first met my charming grand-papa, Aimé Ares, who died quite a few years ago now.  She went on to have 8 kids who turned out to be extraordinary people.

Anna started her family during the great depression. A time she said was hard, very hard, but this hardness softened people. They came together and helped one another. They became closer because of it. When I first heard her stories about starting her family during such a hard economic time it revealed to me that it is not the $100 000 salary and the white picket fence that is needed to nurture a healthy family, it is greater than that. Desire, commitment and a strong love of family. Of course money and status helps but sometimes the most important ingredients come from who you are, not what you are.

She soon put her family ahead of her career however in so many aspects of being a nurse she remained a nurse of life. She loved taking care not only of human life but plant life too. Throughout her life she read up on how to improve our health, our gardens, and along with every piece of reading, she took notes. In most of all her books, magazines and newspaper clippings there are scrap pieces of paper with her handwriting highlighting the information she found most interesting. Re-writing the information helped her become a walking encyclopedia of sorts, at least that is how I used to refer to her as.

Anna loved the flowers of life and loved learning how to give them all they needed to be the most beautiful flowers they could be. How close they should be seeded together, what grew best together, what nutrients the soil needed. She loved her children, grand children and great grand children the same way. She was such an accommodating lady in so many ways. She would have been one of those flowers who would grow and reveal its beauty in any environment.

One of her many gardens. This one; her acreage a la Sapiniere near Spruce Grove.

Politics was something she was not shy to express her opinions about. She paid attention to the world we lived in, and cared to talk about it with people even just last year. She couldn’t stand Alberta’s ex-Premier, Mr. Ralph Klein. Bringing him up in a conversation always got her going on a rant.

I know I’m biased but the way she cared about our world, our communities, our people she would have made a kick ass Premier, MLA, MP or Prime Minister. We would have been so lucky to have someone like her in power. All of you would have had a chance to see what I saw. She wouldn’t have voted for wars, she wouldn’t have voted to see plant life die for stupid reasons, she would have done everything in her power to feed the earth for all that it is in the healthiest of ways.

I miss her more than the little tiny cubes on my keyboard can express but above being missed I feel I am an extremely lucky soul to have seen all that she was and have her influence on all that I am. It is one of those presents in life that is everlasting.

Grand-maman and my brother Patrick who lived with her at the Sapiniere for many years before she past.

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