Sunday, May 15, 2016

When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

    It came over me one morning last week while out working, a premonition, an urge to get home right now. Home has become the hot spring for me, but my real home has always been wherever my folk's place is. I cleaned-up and threw a few clothes in a small case, jumped in the F150 and hit the road for the Okanagan. The day got darker, and the rain more miserable the closer I got on the 6 hour drive. An hour out of Kelowna, I had a strange feeling, and felt a wave of calm come over me, and a sudden lack of urgency in the trip.
I arrived at what my daughter calls Grandma Lois's House, the door had been left unlocked in anticipation of my arrival, and the familiar house was stone quite when I walked in.
My sister and main caregiver was there on the couch, the look on her face told the story, and she said the words I will never forget, "She died an hour ago."
    What we hoped would be months had turned into weeks. I had been out a few weeks before, on her 90th birthday, and the last words Mom said to me then were,
"Don't take so long to come next time". 
As she wished, she passed in her own bed, in familiar surroundings, with her animals nearby.
I went upstairs to say good-bye for the last time.
The soul was gone from her eyes, and all that was left was her worn-out old vehicle of life, but to me, she was still the most beautiful woman in the world.
I told her not to worry, and asked her to say hi to Dad for me, and my old dog Fang.
Then, stroking her arm, I told her all the things that should have been said in life.

   She had a pretty good run at this thing called life, born Lois Monkhouse in 1926 at Chilliwack B.C., she and older sister Verna spent the pre-war years near Cultus Lake. Not long out of high-school, she met and married William (Bill) Trethewey of a well known lumber family, spending several memorable seasons in rough-shod cabins at logging camps in the rugged Harrison Lake country. Much to her relief, they settled in Abbotsford when Dad took over management of Abbotsford Lumber Co., and started right in on a family.
   In 1967, when my two older siblings left home, we moved to Coral Beach on Okanagan Lake. Once the baby of the family (me) left home in 1974, they packed up and moved to Galiano in the Gulf Islands, where they probably figured there was a less chance of me moving back in. In 1979 they moved back to the mainland at Tsawwassen, with a Winter home in Bermuda Dunes Ca., before making their final move to Kelowna's Westside in 1984.
   She took great pride in her home and antiques, loved gardening for as long as she was able, painting, glass-work, and like her mother, writing.  Family was always important to her, as were Siamese cats, of which she always had several around.
'Little Lo Lo' as she was known by extended family, was short in stature, but strong of will, in her own quiet, and gentle manner. She had no regrets in life, other than she would have probably liked to have finished her book, to have danced more, and maybe that time she let Dad trade her 1965 Mustang off on a pick-up truck for the business.
   Predeceased by Bill in 1999, who always called her, "My little bride 'til the day I die".
Her sister Verna Smithers in 2015, the two were very close.
She is survived by 3 children, son Micheal of Kelowna, daughter Nixon of Kelowna, and son Robin of T'sek hot spring.
Grandchildren Brian Barker of Kelowna, Nicole Richard of Calgary, and my daughter Caitlin Trethewey, Kelowna.
She was delighted to have 2 great-grandchildren, Beau Richard, and Drayah Lungul.
Her dog Eli, and Siamese cat Tutt, who will look for her every day.
   Later on that evening, after she left her home for the final time, I wandered downstairs to the basement, a portion of which had been left unfinished as a room for her interests, and she was seldom known to throw anything away. There was a large brick-lined kiln and examples of pottery, glass bowls from the sixties era and such about. A long since used easel waits ready for an artists work that will never come. A great 'next house planner', there were two full-size book-shelves packed with decades worth of home design magazines, in some order I'm sure, known only to herself.
Taking up one cluttered looking corner sat her desk. Before her hands hurt and the stairs became too much for her, she liked to sit down here and correspond, writing long letters in beautiful script.
I pulled over the wheeled office-chair, sat down and resisted the urge to swivel around in circles like I did as a kid, then pulled myself  up to the old desk, and a thousand memories unfolded.
   I didn't look, but I know a drawer would hold her poems, short stories, and a manuscript or two of a novel in there someplace that she never quite finished. She was great for pinning things up around her desk, cards, clippings from a paper, a hand-drawn picture, and faded black-and-white photos of school friends who have left this world before her. She would often write a short saying, or quote that for whatever reason caught her fancy, or just made up on the spot, on a small piece of paper and pin it up on the cork-board for future reference, a writer's habit. I sat there in her chair taking all this in when I notice on the desk, a small piece of paper, set apart from the usual clutter, like someone sitting down there would be almost certain to see it. There was a pin-hole from being posted on her wall at one point, and on it a short phrase.
I picked it up, and in her beautiful script it read...
                                   "I am not gone, I am only in another room"

She loved my site, this post is her only obituary, she would have liked that.
No service is planned.

                                    Lois M. Trethewey April 21 1926-May 11 2016

   At some point in the future, I'm going to bring out the ashes of my Mother, along with those of several beloved long-gone cats she cremated and insisted on keeping around the house I just found out, dump them all in with Dad's, (he always said being buried was a big waste of real estate), shake them all up in there together one last time real good, and cast them from a nice spot I have in mind up the mountain behind.
Dad really enjoyed his early years out in this country, driving the logging trucks in the prime of his life, Mom would have followed him anywhere, and her cats can finally see what it's like to be outside.


  1. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady.

  2. The Monkhouse sisters will be remembered!

  3. i guess i know where you get your beautiful writing from Robin...condolences

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