To many she was known as Catherine and to close family members, Katie. To my brother Rick & I, simply Mom. She was the kindest, gentlest and most loving person God put on this earth. Mom was born on Christmas Eve and would have been 79 on her birthday. The world as I know it ended on December 7, 2011, 4:45PM in room 9A-105 of the VG Hospital’s Centennial Building.
Sunday morning at home, December 4th, 2011 one of my mother’s brain tumours ruptured resulting in her passing on Wednesday December 7th, 2011 at 4:45pm.
By far the saddest day of my life.
A photo of Mom, June 2010
While in hospital on Monday December 5th we witnessed a miraculous event. She had been mostly in a coma but on occassion would gain some consciousness. At one time my Dad (80 years old) was holding my Mom’s right hand, telling her how much he loves her. Dad slept overnight next to my Mom for 3 days while she was in hospital. Not an easy feat for an 80 year old man. Dad could feel her pulling her hand away. So he let go. My Mom then pointed at her EYE, then HEART and then pointed at Dad to communicate via hand signals “I love you”…
My two aunts were present (Mom’s sisters). Mom repeated the hand gestures with them. I was absent at the time. When I arrived my Aunt’s asked me to go near my Mom and tell her how much I loved her. She then did the same hand signals to me. It was perhaps the most emotional experience I have ever had. Needless to say I broke down and wept like a baby.
I promptly phoned my brother and he was very deeply touched.
The medical staff were amazed.
Sadly less then an half hour later Mom’s body shock violently and her sweet face was distorted and visibly in great pain. The medical staff administered her two injections, one for pain and the other for the seizure. Sadly she remained unconscious and heavily sedated. I was very disappointed my Mother was unable to share this magical moment with my kid brother when he arrived at the palative care center…
On Wednesday another miracle happened. My Dad, my brother Rick, Aunts (Mom’s sisters) Theresa, Marie, Susie, Noreen, and cousin Barb where visiting Mom. I had left the hospital to move my car into the hospital parking lot as some space was now available. Dad hollered at me “come here” as I re-entered the room. Mom’s eyes were now opened (they had been closed for near two days) and everyone had given her a kiss. I sat close and kissed her and told her how much I loved her as I stroked her hair. Within a minute or two as I held her sweet head, she breathed her last breath.
Everyone said she was waiting to see me before she passed on.
I often called her my Christmas Angel as Christmas Eve is her birthday.
I am grief stricken beyond belief. Damn I hate cancer… she has been fighting cancer (occular melanoma) since 2005 resulting in the removal of an eye.
I love you always Mom, my very Special Christmas Angel…
Dad & Mom – Bangor 2009
One of Mom’s simple pleasures was 2 or 3 day shopping tip to Bangor.
Dad’s hulking size dwarfing her diminutive size.
One was seldom seen without the other. She was his queen and Dad her knight and protector…
Cousin Sherry’s Eulogy to Mom (Mom’s Niece and to whom Mom was a second mother)
As I look around I see many saddened faces in mourning. Some of those faces are familiar to me and some I do not recognize. So please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Sherry Weisshaar. I am a maternal niece to Katherine Morris, who I refer to as Aunt Katie. After educating myself on eulogies, they recommend a three to four minute time frame.
This is very understandable when trying to hold the attention of listeners. However, a three to four minute tribute can hardly equate to one’s life of seventy-eight years, especially when it is a person of such great depth like Aunt Katie. So I humbly ask you to remain eared with me to the end. Before I began to write this eulogy Aunt Katie said to me, with firmness in her voice, Sherry do not exaggerate about me. So I am about to speak the truth of who this remarkable woman was.
Aunt Katie deserves to have her story told and you deserve to hear the true essence of who she was. Throughout this eulogy I will convey to you the qualities and natural talents that Aunt Katie commanded and displayed in her everyday living with family and friends. I will then portray the strength and courage that she showed during her long battle with cancer.
Aunt Katie’s qualities were witnessed by her family and friends, but most importantly her husband, Kenneth Morris, who I will refer to as Uncle Kenny. He was a witness to Aunt Katie’s life for fifty-nine years.
Many years prior I gave Aunt Katie a namesake plaque as a gift. This namesake explained the origin of her name. It said that Katherine was one of four favourite Christian names and the Greek translation for Katherine meant pure. If anyone was to ask me to explain my Aunt Katie’s personality in one word, I would say pure because of the strong morales and values that she lived by. Yes, humans are sinners by nature, however it would be difficult to find any sins that Aunt Katie would have committed. Her conscience would not allow her to step outside of her morale boundary lines. Honesty, sincerity and loyalty are just a few of the important morals that she lived by.
Dishonesty comes in many forms, stealing, cheating, lying, etc. Never would Aunt Katie be a participant in this towards a single person or empire. Through personal conversation I can attest to the fact that Aunt Katie always remained honest with her employers and co-workers at Sears until she retired. As for family and friends it was a given.
The loyalty that Aunt Katie exuded parallelled her honesty. She was the type of woman who always spoke in another person’s defence without hesitation. I personally witnessed these actions on numerous occasions. There were times that she candidly told me that I was wrong.
Aunt Katie was a wise woman in her decision making. Her decisions were based on reasoning and stability. One of her first wise choices was when she chose her life long mate, Uncle Kenny. They truly loved one another. Although Aunt Katie and Uncle Kenny were individuals with very different personalities, they lived as one flesh throughout the duration of their marriage. They supported and comforted each other during the fun and challenging times. Aunt Katie was very happy being Uncle Kenny’s wife, a homemaker and a mother and she excelled at it. Aunt Katie made it known that she could and did work as hard as Uncle Kenny. So many times Uncle Kenny would walk into the kitchen where Aunt Katie spent most of her time working. Uncle Kenny would tap her on the bottom and say “my beautiful Katie”. She would laugh and say “yes Ken”. Uncle Kenny would respond by saying “it’s true Katie, you’ve got it all in your family”. Uncle Kenny would then elaborate on what a small, but strong package of beauty that she was made of.
When their home at 33 Castle Hill Drive was being built, Aunt Katie helped to plaster the walls, carry boards, hammer nails, paint and everything else that was required of her. She was a go getter and a natural nester and building their nest together they did and did well.
When their home was built, all of their loved ones were always welcome there. Aunt Katie loved to entertain her family and friends. Cooking, baking, sewing and decorating were just a few of her God given gifts. She made the best lasagna in the Maritimes and was only ever too happy to share her recipe.
When it came to baking, Aunt Katie did not bake the norm like chocolate chip cookies or banana bread. Aunt Katie’s place looked like a French bakery situated off the coast of France. There would be many types of puffed pastry, neopolitans, chocolate eclairs as well as homemade donuts and jelly rolls. They were lined up on the kitchen counter every Friday afternoon. This was effortless for her. Aunt Katie was famous for making wedding, anniversary and birthday cakes.
Aunt Katie made all of her own clothes, even her coats. I happened to be the lucky recipient of a poncho made of Nova Scotia Tartan. It was a beautiful and I treasured it for years while growing up. Not only did I have these treasures, but Aunt Katie made her grand niece, Kathy, two prom dresses, which she treasures.
The years to follow Aunt Katie decorated her home with warmth and style. She was always so proud to tell you about the great deal that she found in the bargain basement of Sears. We were always reminded that her Sears discount would also be applied to the sale price. Aunt Katie felt satisfaction when she found that special item on sale. After all she treated her money with respect and stretching it she could do. I personally always respected her for this.
Aunt Katie was a very loving mother. Her life was looking after the men in her house. I can recall Aunt Katie telling me that the best years of her life was when her two sons, Kenny and Ricky, were small. Aunt Katie built a wonderful relationship with her sons. She instilled many of the same morales and values in them that she lived by. They in turn doted on her. Aunt Katie’s eldest son, Kenny, remained living at home. He would bring home to Aunt Katie movies, scratch tickets and her favourite chocolate bars. Her youngest son, Ricky, called her daily and when he went to visit he always hugged her and never left without saying I love you. It was no surprise that this was learned behaviour.
She loved to celebrate Christmas and often elaborated on what it was like when the boys were young. Before her brother, Harold, passed away, she made a vow to him that she would always look out for his two children, Harry and Susan Beazley. So for many years after, she entertained them at Christmas, accompanied by their families. These were fond memories for Aunt Katie.
There were many photos taken over the years and when I would go home we would always pull them out and reminisce.
Aunt Katie could tell you anything about a car, how it ran and sometimes even diagnosed your car problems. This knowledge was acquired primarily through her son, Ricky, our family mechanic, as well as Uncle Kenny and young Kenny.
Aunt Katie loved all her nieces and nephews equally. She made that clear. When we were young and growing up I can remember hearing Aunt Katie saying numerous times no matter what any of her nieces or nephews did wrong, she would not love the act, but that she would always love them. It made me think of the expression – never love the sin, but always love the sinner. She lived by this belief. Whenever one of them were in pain or suffering, she would say it should be me, not them.
I shared a very close and loving relationship with Aunt Katie. At the young age of three weeks, she began to care for me while my mother returned to work. This continued on until I began school at age five. Aunt Katie and Uncle Kenny were very instrumental in my development as a child.
Over the years I always gravitated to her for many things. There was always a great deal of love and guidance expressed towards me from her. I always took great joy in shocking and teasing her. She always took everything in her stride.
When I was approximately 25 years old, I called Aunt Katie and said I would like to move back to Halifax, may I stay with you and Uncle Kenny? I knew without a doubt she would say yes. Uncle Kenny was informed that the newly renovated sewing room must be transformed to a new bedroom for Sherry. Uncle Kenny quickly went to work. How many aunts and uncles do you find like this?
There were many of nights that I worked quite late, one two in the morning, and Aunt Katie would sit up and wait for me to come, she couldn’t sleep until I was in.
Aunt Katie and Uncle Kenny took me on many of trips when I was young. On one camping trip they took me on, I woke up in the middle of the night screaming, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun. Aunt Katie and Uncle Kenny woke up in their Winnebago and opened up the door to see who was after us. They realized very quickly that I was having another nightmare and I went fast asleep again.
Aunt Katie loved deeply and unconditionally. While living with Aunt Katie I witnessed her great deeds and acts of giving. She would say Sherry don’t say anything, once you tell someone what you have done it negates the goodness of giving. Simply put, Aunt Katie never required the accolades. It was a demonstration of her sincerity and genuine love.
Everyday after work, Ricky would pick up Aunt Katie in his red jeep. Aunt Katie would hop up in his vehicle like a real sport and off they would head for home. For some reason it was planned out on this particular day that I would pick up Aunt Katie. When Ricky arrived home he said “Sherry, where’s my mother?” It was then that I realized that I forgot to get her. Ricky ran off in his red jeep and soon after returned with his Mom. Aunt Katie came in the house, smiling in her usual happy sweet self, never was she angry with me.
After moving to Toronto and during the course of establishment, I neglected my relationship with Aunt Katie. I have truly suffered remorse for this lost time so I outwardly ask God, in the presence of Aunt Katie’s loved ones, to forgive me for this selfish act.
On May 15, 2010, my nephew called me and asked my husband and I to adopt his baby, my grand niece, Alexis. We eagerly ran to his aid. You are probably wondering why am I telling you this. How does this corelate with Aunt Katie’s eulogy? This is how it corelates. The notion of love that Aunt Katie showed to me as an aunt was the same notion of love that I was able to reciprocate to my nephew and grand niece, Alexis, who is now my daughter. In this regard, Aunt Katie has left behind a profound legacy.
Aunt Katie had a great deal of faith and prayer was an active part of her life. She prayed daily for the adoption of our daughter, Alexis.
In August of this year I revisited Halifax. This was a trip I could not neglect after all the loving Aunt that I knew was failing. It was imperative to me that I see her one more time and that Aunt Katie and Alexis could meet for the first time. Shortly after entering the house, Aunt Katie sat on the love seat to my right. Alexis laid on the other end and fell fast asleep. Aunt Katie continually gazed at Alexis with so much love in her eyes. Uncle Kenny sat to my left. I spent approximately one hour there speaking with both of them. I cannot convey to you the degree of peacefulness I experienced. I was home where I belonged. The only difference now was that it was our child at the hands of our loving Aunt Katie.
As I was writing this eulogy, it occurred to me to ask others what they would like me to share with all of you today.
Michael Conrad, Aunt Katie’s nephew said this:
Sherry I will miss her so much. All I want to do is hold her one more time. Michael went on to say I know you don’t start off with wanting favourites, but Aunt Katie was my favourite Aunt. We had many aunts and great aunts to pick from, our family was so large and this tiny, five foot woman, stood out. Michael mentioned the trips that Aunt Katie took him on. He said they were so much fun. He also mentioned the times that he would play ice hockey in the backyard with Kenny and Ricky. They would be freezing and she would bring them in for a hot lunch and a hot drink and then send them back out.
Gary Beazley said this – she was a perfectionist. He also reiterated my words that I earlier had read to you. He said do you remember Sherry that Aunt Katie had always said, I might not like what a niece or nephew does, but I will always love them. He went on to say that Aunt Katie had called her sister Aunt Theresa to inform her that the cancer had spread to her brain. Aunt Katie then added I need to go now so that I can call Aunt Marie and let her know. She also added, I also need to cut Uncle Kenny’s hair and probably this will be the last cut I ever give him, the next time he will need to go the barber.
Mary Ann Waite said I will always remember the smell and warm feeling in her home. Perhaps it was all the baking. Aunt Katie will always be Aunt Katie to me.
Suzie Durant mentioned the time she unsuccessfully tried to teach her daughter, Jillian, to add. A few days later, Suzie left Jillian with Aunt Katie. When Suzie called to check on Jillian, Aunt Katie said Jillian was just fine, but that she had just taught her to use the calculator. Aunt Katie always had a natural ability with children.
Wayne, Patty and Jason Robson wanted to comment but were away, so their mother, Aunt Suzie, spoke on their behalf. Aunt Suzie mentioned the time that Aunt Katie once again took away another nephew on a trip, her youngest son, Jason. When they arrived at the border, customs asked if they had anything to declare. Jason responded yes a gun. It was a toy gun that they had purchased for him. Customs very quickly pulled them to the side and searched their car.
Michelle Merzetti commented that Aunt Katie had such a great relationship with her two sons and always looked out for their best interests. Michelle also mentioned that the one value from Aunt Katie that she will carry with her for her entire life was how non-prejudice Aunt Katie was towards all people of various religions, race and colour.
Barbara Walters and Mary Ann Waite both named their daughters after Aunt Katie. Personally I took her name as my confirmation name and made it clear to my husband that if he wanted to marry me, it would have to be on Aunt Katie’s wedding anniversary date, September 16th.
In 2005, Aunt Katie was diagnosed with ocular melanoma. Aunt Katie underwent many medical appointments, treatments and trips to Princess Margaret Hospital. I personally remember these trips. The first one in particular as I met Aunt Katie and Uncle Kenny at the airport and drove them to Princess Margaret Hospital. It is still so vivid to me – the humble little room at the hostel where they stayed together. After all of the years of Aunt Katie nurturing and loving her nieces and nephews and I now had to leave them behind in a room that did not represent any warmth during a struggling time in their life.
In 2007, Aunt Katie’s cancer became worse. I returned home to be with her during her surgery. It was at this time they removed her eye. She showed so much courage and wow did she have the most beautiful eyes. They were piercing blue and when she looked at you it was as though she could see through your flesh into your inner sole. In 2010, the cancer mastisized to the liver and lung. Aunt Katie was told that she had ten months to live. Being that small and strong little package of beauty that Uncle Kenny referred to her as, fought with all she had and in October 2011 the cancer once again took another grip and it mastisized to the brain. Through all of this illness Aunt Katie remained strong and showed so much courage. This is an example of her courage. Aunt Katie quoted these words to my Mother “this is my burden, no one else’s. Tell Sherry and Michelle to be happy and tell Sherry to enjoy Alexis. Just because I am dying does not mean that everyone needs to die with me.”
I asked Aunt Katie if she was scared. She said no, but I do need to contact Sobeys so that they can make the sandwiches for the reception after my funeral. She was so composed. From all of my cousins, this was our brave and courageous Aunt.
Aunt Katie knew what was lying ahead for her in terms of health. She was one of eleven children and was predeceased by five siblings, four of them with cancer. This was all too familiar to her.
Aunt Katie is survived by five siblings, in chronological order, the matriarchy of the family, Aunt Marie Barnhill, Uncle Gerald Beazley, Aunt Theresa Conrad, my mother, Noreen Murphy, and the baby of the family, Aunt Sue Robson.
I ask each and every one of you to keep Uncle Kenny, Kenny Jr. and Ricky in your thoughts and prayers and continue to embrace them the way Aunt Katie has always embraced you.
Kathy’s Eulogy (Mom’s great niece and named after my Mom)
For those who don’t know me, my name is Katherine Walters and I would like to say a few words to honor my Great Aunt, Catherine Agnes Morris. No matter how hard I tried when writing this, I came to realize that my words could never do justice to the lives she affected during her time on this earth. I know we are all grieving today for the loss of a great lady. But I know where ever she is now she is happy and contented with what she has left behind.
Aunt Katie was wife a mother, an Aunt and a friend to all. I’m sure each and every one of you here today has a story to share about how my Aunt Katie has touched your lives. I have a lot of memories of times spent at my Aunt Katie’s house, she was one of a select few that my mother would leave my brother and I with. I loved to spend time in the presents of such a strong female role model. When I was I child I had a poster in my playhouse door, it still hangs there today and it reads ‘Girls can do anything better than boys can.’ This always brings Aunt Katie to mind. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do.
Every time we saw her she would tell us how important we all were to her. She had an enormous capacity to love all of those that she met. Anyone who entered her home was given a warm and loving welcome and you could never leave without her giving you something to take home with you.
When I think of my Aunt Katie these are the words that come to my mind, courageous, determined, strong willed, loving, caring and giving, she displayed all of these qualities until the end while at the same time fighting to live. If I could have half of the strength that my Aunt Katie had towards the end of her life, I would know that I could handle anything life my throw at me. She defied many odds, being called a miracle by her doctor. She defied the odds until the end. The doctors at the QEII said she was only expected to live 48 hours, she showed them she lived for 72. That is my Aunt Kate.
Aunt Katie comes to mind whenever I read the Prayer of St Francis
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
We may no longer see her, but we will always have the many special moments we shared with her. She will always have a special place in our hearts. Let’s just be thankful that we knew a special lady like Catherine Morris.
I took this photo August 29, 2010 while Mom was doing something she seldom did. Take a rest.
When I pointed my DSLR camera with it’s long telephoto lens at her she grinned and said
“Don’t take your Mother’s picture”
then smiled and covered her face.
She thought her hair was untidy and wasn’t wearing the clothes to warrant a photo.
Whenever I pointed the camera she covered her face. This “game” continued for a few minutes, finally I gave up and snapped her photo and informed her I had indeed taken her photo.
She grinned and said “You did not”.
I replied “Yes I did”…
Later that night I displayed the photo on my computer to her. She grinned and asked me to show it to anyone….
Sorry Mom, this is one promise I can not keep…
I love this photo, it kind of captures the innocence and the devilsh side of Mom….
A day or two prior Mom had some blood work.
The needle left a bruise on her arm which you can see in the photo…
I’m sure she doesn’t mind me sharing it with you….
Mom, Rick & I – Christmas in White’s Lake (approx 1961)
More Photos and a Video of my Mom, Katie