Blog Off, For Now

Ottawa was fun, for the most part. It was good meeting all of the aunts and uncles, and it was a nice, lazy Saturday in the Experimental Farm. We also got to tour around Parliament Hill, and I got to ride the O-Train. Unfortunately, then we received bad news which turned the whole visit sour.

I’m sorry to say that my sister-in-law Wendy drowned while on vacation in LaPaz, Mexico.

So, this blog is going on hiatus for a week or two. Erin and I will be going down to Omaha for the funeral, and it may take me a while before blogging about anything seems appropriate.

I’ll see you in about a week or two.

(Update: 21:57): The family has decided not to accept flowers for the memorial service, but instead to set up a scholarship in Wendy’s name at an art school somewhere. We haven’t yet settled on precisely where, but as soon as I find out, I’ll post the information here. Thank you for all the condolensces on this blog.

(Update: Monday, June 11, 20:01): The memorial service will lbe held in the Holy Family Shrine in Gretna, Nebraska, this Saturday at 1 p.m. Wendy will be cremated. In lieu of a gravestone, we will be donating Wendy’s painting Sunlit Pampas Grass to the shrine, and we’ll likely plant a memorial tree.

They’re still working out the details on the scholarship in Wendy’s name. As soon as I get that information, I’ll post it here.

(Update: Wednesday, June 13, 09:02): Erin and I are going to hit the road for Omaha this afternoon. The Mexican authorities released the body, a move which required a call from South Dakota senator Tim Johnson and Arizona senator John McCain and a word from the State Department to cut through some of the paperwork. The autopsy confirmed death by drowning. So all is set for the memorial service this Saturday at Gretna — a good place for it, from what I’ve heard. The wildflowers will be in bloom. Wendy would have liked that.

To my surprise, AP picked up the story.

We still have no details on the scholarship set up in Wendy’s name, but they’ll come. We appreciate the condolensces so many have sent; it is good to feel the support and love that’s out there. Our employers have been very understanding and most kind in allowing us this time off to attend.

Erin has further posts on Wendy in her blog.

My next post will probably be in Omaha, after the service and the wake, or it may be after we get back to Kitchener (Tuesday evening). Thanks again, everybody.

(Update: Thursday, July 14, 21:30 Central Time): Made it into Omaha in time for dinner. Driving was uneventful. Almost the whole family is here. Lars and his brother will be arriving close to midnight.

I finally have some information about the memorial scholarships/funds to be set up in Wendy’s name. One, an art scholarship fund set up in Wendy’s name, will be held by her husband, Lars Ewell, in trust until everything is organized. You can send money orders or cheques to him directly at his address:

Lars Ewell
2602 E. Lee Street
Tucson, AZ, 85716

Cheques or money orders should probably be in U.S. funds. All of the money will go into a scholarship fund that will provide assistance for underprivileged art students.

If you would rather, the family will also welcome donations made to Doctors Without Borders in Wendy Ewell’s name.

(Update: Saturday, June 16, 18:03): The memorial service was beautiful. We actually scattered Wendy’s ashes in a private and informal ceremony the day before, but in the same location as the memorial service. The Holy Family Shrine site just screams Wendy, with its replanted prairie, its wild flowers, standing atop a hill with the wind and miles of big sky. A perfect final resting place.

The service itself was also not very religious, which Wendy would have appreciated. It was long because a fair chunk of it was given over to the congregation to stand up and say individually what they remembered of Wendy, and a lot of people had stories. We had about two-hundred people in the church, easily.

I read Erin’s A Suffrage to Water. It was her father’s request, but Erin wasn’t sure she could get through it, so I stepped forward. Wendy’s favourite of Erin’s poems, While the Earth Remains finished us up. There were four Bach cello solos by Lars’ brother Phil, and the recessional was Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again.

I have pictures of the site and of the ash scattering ceremony, and I’ll be posting these later when I get home, along with some thoughts of my own about Wendy. This will be my last update until Tuesday night, I think. Erin and I will be starting back on Monday and travelling Monday and Tuesday. Then it’s back to work on Wednesday. And the task of coping begins.

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