Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and today is his mother’s birthday. She would have been 93. A tribute I wrote for her was published in the Toronto Globe and Mail after her death but was edited and shortened. Here is the original tribute I wrote using the format the paper requires for their Lives Lived section.
Anne Enns Driedger
Wicked left-handed pitcher, strong alto singer, skillful quilter, trustworthy confidante, the heart of her family, a woman of quiet religious faith.
Born in Rudnerweide, Ukraine, September 9, 1923. Died October 14, 2011 at the Leamington Ontario Mennonite Home after a stroke at age 88.
Anne was an infant when her family fled to Canada to escape the turbulent period following the Russian Revolution. Her father was withdrawn during Anne’s childhood in southern Ontario. Despondent about losing his family’s vast estate, he never really recovered from his many near-death experiences in Ukraine.
Although Anne had to quit school in grade eight to take jobs as a housemaid and tobacco factory worker to help support her family, she was always learning new things. An avid reader and interesting conversationalist, it was hard to beat her at Scrabble.
Anne had a trim figure and deep brown eyes. Her husband Cornelius said she was so lovely, the minute he saw her for the first time he said, “She’s the one for me.” It was raining the Saturday of their wedding in 1942. They arrived at the little house on the farm where they would be sharecropping, to find the kitchen flooded. Thankfully the bedroom was dry, but when they wanted to set off for church the next morning, they discovered their friends had let the air out of the tires on their Model A Ford as a joke. They made it to church, but walked in noticeably late.
Anne worked energetically alongside her husband and five sons on the vegetable and greenhouse farm they bought near Leamington, Ontario in 1952. She would put in full days in the field and then hurry inside to do the cooking, cleaning and laundry. She remained an attractive woman. One of her sons remembers as a teenager driving her to town on an errand, and as Anne stepped out of the family truck some men passing by gave an appreciative whistle. In photos taken on special occasions she is wearing fashionable dresses, nice jewelry, elegant hats and has perfectly coiffed hair.
Feeding six men and later the daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who joined the family wasn’t just a duty but an art for Anne. She was famous for her paper-thin pancakes, creamy rice pudding, succulent roast beef and soft zwiebach rolls. Her homemade donuts were the stuff of legend.
Anne’s oldest son died of cancer in 1974 and she suffered from severe arthritic pain for most of her adult life, but she accepted these difficulties with stoicism and rarely complained.
Her family loved baseball and an annual trip across the border to a Detroit Tiger Game was a tradition. As Anne lay dying the Tigers were in the American League finals and the family animatedly discussed their progress at her bedside. It is exactly what she would have expected.
Anne had a green thumb and the flowerbeds around her home were always awash with color. Her favorite flower was the pink rose and each of her grandchildren laid one on her coffin before it was lowered into the ground.
Anne was a positive person who never had a critical or angry word for anyone. Her laughter, selfless nature and love of all things beautiful leave a charming, heart-warming legacy.
MaryLou Driedger is Anne’s daughter-in-law.