Kathie’s Lasting Legacy

Selfless was the word that both Chris and Jennifer used to describe their mother Kathie. She lived her life to the fullest, whether hiking along the Bruce Trail, exploring Italy or simply spending time at the family cottage. Everything she did was always centred around other people. She genuinely cared about the stories and situations of others. Kathie had a heart of gold, opening her arms to everybody and never looking for recognition or thanks. She gave herself tirelessly to her family and friends and to causes she believed in. One of those causes was McNally House Hospice where she volunteered for a number of years before her husband Peter was diagnosed with early onset dementia and she turned all her energy to caring for him. Sadly, after almost thirty years of marriage, Peter died in January of 2016.

Kathie felt that McNally House was a wonderful place; it gave her the ideal opportunity to give back to the community. She loved meeting the residents, staff and fellow volunteers, and making their lives all the better with her heartfelt interest in everyone. That said, while Kathie respected and admired the work the hospice did, she quietly told her children that there was no way she would ever want to be a resident there. Everything changed in the fall of 2016, however, when Kathie was diagnosed with Soft Tissue Sarcoma. It had spread through her entire body and while she continued to live the best life possible, things became more and more challenging. Her feelings about the hospice were similarly challenged, but after gentle discussion with Dr. Marshall and her team, she hesitantly agreed to be admitted.

Jennifer and Chris echo each other in their expression of gratitude to McNally House Hospice. They saw their mother settle in amid the staff and volunteers who went out of their way to make the family comfortable. Nothing was too much to ask for, no request was disregarded. They felt that Kathie was genuinely being taken care of and that she was being given the opportunity to truly continue living her life. One of the highlights was the Girl’s High Tea. For years, Kathie and the women in her life would meet annually for a fancy high tea, and the staff and volunteers at the hospice helped to continue the tradition. Complete with pearls and Grandmother’s china, Kathie, Jennifer, Kathie’s sister and other friends and family sat in the sun-room with an array of delicious delicacies, chatting, laughing and reminiscing.

It was during her time at McNally House that Kathie’s truly selfless nature became evident. She loved to sit outside in the milder weather, sipping coffee and enjoying the fresh air. It was during these times that Kathie almost like she was getting away from it all, perhaps at the cottage or on one of her hiking trips, surrounded by nature. Even as she was dying, Kathie wanted to make others happy. She decided to create a garden for McNally House as her legacy, one filled with colour and beauty, a place of peace and comfort where residents and their families could escape to even for just a short time.
The next while was just plain fun for Kathie as she and McNally House staff began to plan. Coles Florist and Garden Centre in Grimsby joined the project to bring Kathie’s vision of a garden, full of colour and as natural as possible to life. Among the plants would be plenty of space for quiet contemplation. True to form, Kathie did not want it to be named after her, but wanted it to simply be part of McNally House. Chris agreed, but said, “In our minds, it will always be Mom’s garden, but at McNally, it will be there for everyone to enjoy.” The garden will be built in spring of 2018, and will be a very special addition to a very special place.

McNally House’s mission is to bring compassionate care to families like the Wedeles. McNally provides free of charge, 24-hour specialized end-of-life care to people living with a terminal illness, as well as those in their life circle.
But they can’t do it without you.

To continue to provide Niagara West the gold standard in end-of-life care and bereavement services, McNally House relies on the generosity of our community to help us raise more than $600,000 each year to cover operating expenses.