March 26, 1927 – November 5, 2020
Born to immigrant parents, Margolino (Maggie) Homenuik (Ukraine) and Wasyl Federchuk (Romania), Mary was 2nd youngest of eight children born and raised in Lennard, Manitoba. Mary was bilingual—fluent in English and Ukrainian.
Her father passed away when she was 2 years of age, leaving her mother to raise eight children on her own.
Mary only attended school until grade 8 as she had to do her share of work on the farm, developing skills that would prove most beneficial in her married life.
As a young girl, Mary loved music and worked hard to save up enough money to buy a guitar. A great disappointment for her was when her Mom took her guitar and sold it to buy food for the family.
Mary eventually gained employment at the Russell Hospital (operated by Catholic Nuns). She especially loved when she got to work with newborns. The nuns obviously saw her potential and encouraged her to consider pursuing nurses training in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile though, Mary (a beautiful young woman) was secretly dating a young English/Irish farmer named Earl Jackson. It was necessary to conceal this romance as it was not culturally acceptable, however they eventually eloped in Winnipeg. Such excitement! And what about that nurses training??—it was a decision Mary would regret her entire life.
Mary and Earl lived on the family farm at Inglis for forty-eight years. They raised four children Cecilia, Glenn, Carman, and Gaylene over the next many years, working hard to provide plenty of opportunity for them all to flourish.
As a newly wed during the first five years of marriage Mary worked very hard- she cooked on a wood stove, used an outdoor biffy in summer, a basement pail in winter and hauled water year-round. Food was kept in an icehouse.
Hydro arrived in about 1955 -rural life would change forever. Mary continued to bake bread 2-3 times per week, feed numerous hired men, feed chickens, milk cows, plant a huge garden, wash clothes with a wringer washer and dry clothes on an outdoor clothesline. Every summer Mary would spend untold hours preserving fruit, veggies, pickles, jams; filling basement shelves that groaned under the weight of the 500+ jars.
In spite of all the hard work there was always time to spend with family and friends. Attending barn dances, picnics at the beach, or hosting large family dinners with her sisters and with close friends, Mary always enjoyed the company and especially the children. As part of the neighborhood ‘support’ group with good friends Deanna, Carol, Loreen and Eva, they raised their children together, helping each other out. Many good times were spent together.
While living in both Inglis and Russell, Mary was a dedicated volunteer with the United Church, Palliative Care, Hospital Auxilliary, Terry Fox Run, Arthritic Swim program and more… A highlight and honor for her was when Terry Fox’s mother came and had lunch with her and Loreen Kopetsky. Once living in Russell, Mary also took on a position as a Nurse’s Aide at the Personal Care Home. She loved it! Mary shone when helping and looking after others.
Mary loved to socialize and was part of a large group of friends, some of whom created stunning quilts, others who regularly went out for lunch, and those who regularly danced until the wee hours of the morning. Whether it was golfing, dancing, traveling, or quilting bees, Mary approached it all with a zest for life.
Mary had a dignified look about her and she continued to look good in spite of advancing age.
The years quickly passed, and the children grew into their own lives including careers, marriage and grandchildren. Mary was in her element –immersing herself in the lives of her eight grandchildren. It was because of these children that she became well known for her homemade chicken dumpling soup, buns and butter tarts. Many meals were served between Ukrainian dance class, volleyball or music lessons.
The grandchildren grew, moved away for school, married and returned, and then there were seven great-grandchildren – more babies to snuggle!
Poor health plagued Earl and thus began a major change in their lives. Earl passed away in 2014. Living alone in a big house suddenly lost its appeal. Loneliness, fear and many close friends were passing on, so Mary moved to the new Seniors complex in town, but never warmed to that change. It was the beginning of a downward spiral into the depths of dementia.
The last 2 1/2 years have been truly unkind to Mary. It has been incredibly hard to watch the deterioration of a once vibrant, independent woman who lived to dance and who planned her own 90th birthday party. The coronavirus only exacerbated the loneliness, boredom and helplessness. Mary is finally at rest and at peace. This is not a sad day. It is time to celebrate her full life and give thanks for all the blessings she enjoyed.
Mary is survived by her four children, Cecilia (Tom), Glenn (Terry), Carman (Donna), Gaylene (Mervin), eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, sister-in-law Margaret Ostapowich, brother-in-law George Lefebvre and special nephews and nieces.
The family will be forever grateful to ALL the staff and Mom’s doctors at the Russell Personal Care Home for their love, respect, and care to make our Mom’s final journey as dignified as possible. You are all angels; your caring compassion has not gone unnoticed and is truly appreciated. Thank You!
Rest in Peace
TWO MOTHERS REMEMBERED
I had two mothers, two mothers I claim,
Two different people, yet with the same name.
Two separate women, diverse by design,
But I loved them both, because they were mine.
The first was the mother, who carried me here,
Gave birth and nurtured, and launched my career.
She was the one whose features I bear,
Complete with the facial expression I wear.
She gave me some music, which follows me yet
Along with examples in life that she set.
Then as I grew older, she some younger grew,
And we’d laugh as just mothers and daughters can do.
But then came the year that her mind clouded so,
And I sensed that the mother I’d known soon would go.
So quickly she changed, and turned into the other -
A stranger who dressed in the clothes of my mother.
Oh, she looked just the same, at least at arm’s length,.
But she was the child now, and I was her strength.
We’d come full circle, we women three,
My mother the first, the second, and me.
And if my own children should come to a day
When a new mother comes, and the old goes away,
I’d ask of them nothing that I didn’t do -
Love both of your mothers as both have loved you.
To send flowers to Mary's family, please visit our floral store.
Knox United Church Memorial Fund
Russell MB R0J 1W0
Russell's Lots-A-Tots Inc.
P.O. Box 743, Russell MB R0J 1W0