The obituary she should have had.
My mother Sheila was born in Birmingham England, daughter of Lilian and Norman. Her early years were spent in Erdington, where her father worked as a bookmaker. In 1941 she was evacuated with a number of other children from Britain’s cities for her safety. She lived in the Yorkshire countryside for over a year before her mother decided that she should be living with the family in Erdington.
After finishing her A-levels, Sheila got a job as a laboratory assistant in the Physics department at the University of Birmingham. She took some secretarial courses and was able to obtain the post of personal secretary to Sir Rudolf Peierls. She held this job for 4 years before she was hit with a desire to move. She first moved to London, where she got a job as secretary to a jeweler. She lived in the now fashionable Holland Park. She then made the big move, and emigrated to Canada.
She first lived in Edmonton, where she worked as a secretary, first for the department of Metallurgy at the University of Alberta, then for some doctors at the University Hospital. After more than a year there, she decided to move back to Birmingham. She did not stay there long, moving back to Canada again. This time she moved to Montreal. She was able to get a job as secretary to the Engineering Department head. She loved Montreal.
There she met Corley, a graduate student in the department at the time. Both huge car enthusiasts, their first date was a rally. They married in the winter of 1966. Upon the receipt of his PhD in the spring of 1967, they moved to Ottawa, where Corley got a job for the Federal Government. They were soon joined by their daughter, me, and a son, Hugh a year later.
Sheila stopped working when she moved to Ottawa, and spent a lot of her time raising her two children. She also was a very active member of car clubs. She held various posts in the Ottawa Fiat Club, and then the Motorsport Club of Ottawa (MCO). She was among other things, the editor of their monthly newsletter. Corley likewise was active in the same clubs. She was once heard to say, that even though she was sleeping with the President (Corley), she had her own opinions.
Like many families in the early 1980s, the family moved to Alberta. Corley had obtained a job with the Provincial Government. Sheila embraced the move, and reminded the family of her many happy memories of living there in the early 1960s. Sadly, the province had changed and both children experienced a backlash from the in-migration of Eastern Canadians to the area.
Undeterred, she began to be active in the promotion of French language education in the province. She had since her children had begun schooling, actively encouraged their acquisition of the French language, enrolling them in immersion starting in Kindergarten. In Alberta, immersion begun only in 3rd or 4th grade. She joined the organisation Canadian Parents for French (CPF) and served on its provincial executive for a number of years.
Sheila was the best of mothers. She was not the most physically demonstrative, but she was always able to convey her love and pride in her children. One of my last memories of her was when I called after I was accepted in the PhD programme at the University of Montreal. She was utterly thrilled. She spent the afternoon after she found out calling everybody she could think of to tell the news, including my high school drama teacher. She was so proud. She told me about all the people she had called, and how proud she was of me. The best of mothers!
She was also a great friend. She kept up a correspondence with a number of her school friends, and many other friends she made throughout her life. Despite the difficulties of space and time she was able to maintain these friendships. She remembered their birthdays, and they remembered hers.
Her last years were not the best. She suffered a brain aneurysm, which created many problems with balance, memory and personality. She died in November 1999, not long after having received a diagnosis of liver cancer.
I wrote this obituary in honour of my mother, Sheila. She was an important part of my life, giving me unconditional love and support. She was my rock. I wanted to underline that even though ten years have passed since she left, she was loved and she is missed.