A few months ago we learned that a dear friend’s cancer had returned full force and that unless there was a miracle, she only had a short time to live. Abby had just come to see us—she’d lost little of her vibrancy. She was still pushing a heavy mower around the yard and canning food. It was hard to believe that she was dying. So hard to accept.
A month later we went to visit her. I brought some soup and sandwiches and we planned on a short visit so we didn’t tire her. It stunned us to see how weak she’d become in such a short amount of time. Abby had reclined in her chair while we visited. Her nausea made it impossible to keep food down.
She walked to the door when we left, leaning against the wall for support. I hugged her tightly and we cried together. This might be the last time I see her, I thought—and it was. I talked to her once more by phone. Her voice was raspy and weak, but she was still thankful—thankful for medication that took most of the pain away, thankful for the care of her daughters and the love of family and friends, thankful for a full life and good Saviour.
I knew Abby when I was a child. She played the organ at the little white church that my grandparents went to. She had a bright smile—especially for children. Her family moved away, but we reconnected when I became a mother.
In the spring of 2005 we moved to a cabin on the Day property in Vanderhoof while Kevin built us a house nearby. Before that time the Days were our friends, but in the seven months we lived with them they became family.
It was probably the most difficult season of my life. We had four children under 5 in a 16’x16’ cabin. My youngest two children were six-month old twins with undiagnosed allergies. I often only got three hours of sleep a night. But it was also a season with some of my best memories. I got to be on the receiving end of Abby’s servant heart.
Our family of six had supper in their home three times a week. We bathed in their home. Abby’s son, Josh, helped to build our house, and Abby did our laundry.
She didn’t have a dryer, so she hung all of our laundry by hand on a wooden rack that she hoisted with ropes and pulleys where it could dry out of the way. Every week Abby washed our clothes, folded them, and returned them to me with a beautiful smile on her face.
Many afternoons, my children and I would join the Days for their afternoon tea time. We’d sit in their bright kitchen and enjoy Bengal Spice tea and hot-out-of the oven molasses bread smeared with butter. It was a time of great conversation and lots of laughter.
Abby loved my children like they were grandchildren. She enjoyed them and spoke with love to them. She would take them into her lap and read to them. I found myself emulating her in tone. Being around her made me kinder and more patient as a mother.
Soon after we moved into our own house, the Days moved to Prince George. But Abby and I continued our friendship. We didn’t talk on the phone often, but when we did it was always for well over an hour. And she never stopped encouraging me. Every time we talked she shared relevant Bible verses and gave me some deeper insight into relating to my growing family.
It’s impossible to know just how much Abby’s gentle spirit, encouragement, and example has impacted my life as a mother, daughter, sister, wife, and friend, but I know that her influence has permeated my life in every area.
Today I came across a picture that spoke to my soul. It’s called ‘Life Within Death.’ It’s a Chinese lantern—the flower must die for the fruit to grow. Even after the fruit is ripe, the dried flower still encases it.
Even though Abby has left this life to be with her Father in heaven, her legacy lives on in her children, her friends, and the countless people that she ministered to.
We love you always, Abby.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls
into the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much grain.”