July 18, 1918 – September 18, 2020
Edith Schendel, my dear mother, passed away on September 18 in Abbotsford at the age of 102. After over 20 years of teaching at the Abbotsford Jr. High she retired in 1978. Even today many of her former students recognize mom on the streets or in some business!
Along with her mother and I, her only child, we came to Canada from Germany in 1955 to start a new life. Her brother had come with his family 3 years before. At first we lived on his small farm in the Cariboo region without electricity or running water. A greater contrast to our life in Germany is hard to imagine although post war conditions there were all but what we would now consider reasonably comfortable.
Mom worked at first in Quesnel as a nurses’ aid – after a brief career on a turkey farm plucking feathers – and only came out to see us on weekends by hitchhiking about 40 miles.
A year later she received a provisionary teaching position in Longworth, a sawmill camp along the rail line from Prince George to Jasper and taught grades 1 to 8 in a one-room school. There was no road link to the outside world. Using her teaching skills from Germany she enthused and delighted her students with puppetry and folk dancing to which she played her akkordeon!
Some 20 years later a reunion in Prince George of her former students along with their families was a highlight in her life. Diligently attending UBC summer school every year to gain her permanent Canadian teaching certificate, as the 15 some years of teaching experience in Germany were not recognized here, she persevered successfully under difficult circumstances and managed to maintain her small family consisting of her mother and myself throughout.
In 1958 she started her teaching career in Abbotsford and lived here until her death this year. By all standards a heroic life. An unwavering religious faith gave her spiritual direction throughout her life. Her tireless commitment in helping others will be remembered heartily by all those who were fortunate to touch the life of my mother.
Mom had a passion for spinning and weaving. Using natural dyes she prepared from ingredients such as leaves, fruits, weeds and roots, she tinted wool she had spun herself and wove magnificent garments, wall hangings and all sorts of other things. It was her passion over many years.
In the last few months of her life she again asked for her spinning wheel and started to spin her remaining wool supply!
Throughout her life mom maintained close ties to the remaining relatives in Germany and their families and, most remarkably, to the large circle of friends she had acquired there prior to 1955 along with some of her former students who continued vibrant communication with her until her death.
She is survived in Canada and the USA by many nephews and nieces and their families. For the last 9 months my dear wife Patricia made her life as comfortable as possible by taking full time care of her in mom’s home as though she had been her own mother!
Her selfless and unquestioning commitment as a caregiver stands out as a bright light to all. The day our small family moved into our Abbotsford home, mom planted a linden tree in the backyard. Today it towers there magnificently and its blossoms sweeten the air with their aroma in late summer.
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