Maureen Kelly (1938-2012)

Maureen died on May 17, 2012, after a valient battle with pulmonary fibrosis. She was the loving mother of Natalie and her husband Brent Pilon, and Steve Kelly. She was the very proud and doting grandmother of Chloe Pilon and Mark and Ashley Dempsey. She was the beloewd sister of Patricia McPoland and John McPoland, and was predeceased by her brother Peter and her sister Jacqueline.

Maureen and I worked together at a national cancer charity for 10 years. Although I was her boss, over time we became friends. This doesn’t happen often, but Maureen was special. She cared about her work, the people she worked with, and especially the people she worked for – people just diagnosed or living with cancer.

When I look back, I think of Maureen as the “face” of that charity. She was the first person you saw when you came in the door, and she always greeted everyone with a smile and a good morning, and asked how you were doing. Her cheerfulness soothed the nerves of students just starting on their placement, welcomed the many volunteers, and gave consistency to the day for the people who worked there.

She was also the cheerful, welcoming “voice” that callers first heard, whether they were calling for information about a cancer group in their city or town or whether they had just been diagnosed and were afraid and upset. When that happened, Maureen would put everything else aside and spend as long as needed listening and calming and reassuring them that someone cared, that someone was with them and that they could call back anytime. Many did.

Not that she was perfect: she had a liking for corny Internet jokes and cartoon, more than a few of which she circulated to friends. She had a big aversion to filling out government forms which resulted in a bit of bother with the Canada Revenue Agency and I don’t know to this day if she ever did get her Old Age Security.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the many men she made friends with: the postman, the postage meter repairman, the photocopy repairman, the phone system repairman, the guys who fixed our cranky server, the Fedex fellows, and so on. She was always pleasant and always patient with them even when equipment broke down often, so they always showed up promply when she called.

Most of all, Maureen cared about and was proud of her family, especially her grandchildren, and she told me many times how wonderful it was to be living these past years with her daughter Natalie, son-in-law Brent and granddaughter Chloe. She was a loving mother, grandmother, sister and mother-in-law through good times and  bad.

Maureen was also a true friend to many, and we will all miss her sunny personality and caring presence in our lives.

At her memorial service, a group of us who had worked with Maureen slowly congregated at one table. We drank coffee and ate sandwiches and sweets and caught up with each other’s lives and mostly we reminisced, with many a laugh and quiet moments filled with memories. It was the kind of coffee klatch Maureen would have loved.

God bless you, Maureen – may our prayers follow you to heaven.

Jackie Manthorne