My mother-in-law passed away Monday morning from a catastrophic stroke that occured the morning before. She was a remarkable woman in many ways in how she transcended her circumstances and I wanted to pay tribute to her today.
Margaret Peddle was raised in various remote communities in Northern Ontario, the largest of which was Englehart, a small community halfway between North Bay and Timmins. Her father was a Hydro Power worker, and his job took them across the North.
They had several family difficulties, Margaret’s sister Kay ran away from home and had a child who was raised by Margaret’s parents. Margaret’s brother Calvin died during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
The family did move down to Southern Ontario, to the town of St. Catharines. At age 16 Margaret snuck into a bar with a date, and emerged with another date, a dashing Air Force airman named Gord whom she would eventually marry.
Pain was a frequent companion. Marg suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as Crohn’s disease, which almost took her life when her children were very young. Still in spite of the Arthritis, one of her pleasures was knitting sweaters for the extended family.
She was a tiny lady. Just 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds. But she was fiercely protective of her children (and later grandchildren), and wouldn’t be afraid to stand up for them no matter the situation.
Gord’s air force career took the family to Cold Lake Alberta, another out of the way place in the Canadian North. She viewed the isolation as a blessing. Because of the air force base she was able to get quick access to a major center for her health, and she also saw it as a great place to raise a family free from many of the big city concerns.
Marg worked a number of entry level jobs to help support the family: As a server at a coffee shop or as a clerk at a drugstore. While she only completed high school herself later in life, she had the vision that education would be important for her three children. Each completed professional degrees in the Management or Healthcare fields.
Margaret was not the first in the family to become a Jesus follower. It was in fact her daughter Carrie who came to faith first through a Nicky Cruz crusade in the town of Edmonton, Alberta. (Those who have seen the movie The Cross and the Switchblade will know the reference.) Margaret, and my wife Kim soon took that same step.
Margaret became a devoted reader of her Bible, and grew spiritually as the family moved from place to place. In Ottawa she became the church Librarian, and a key component to the church’s prayer team. Marg was also a listening ear for those who phoned into a regional crisis line. Her faithful witness was a key factor in her husband Gord becoming a Christian about 20 years after her decision.
By 1993 the extended family had all ended up in Hamilton, Ontario. Marg and Gord started attending a local Alliance church. In the early 1990s the denomination in Canada had a prohibition against women elders (It still does in the United States). When the opportunity for women to serve as elders began to crack open, Margaret was among the first few to be asked to serve. For a number of years she was one of handful of women elders in the entire denomination.
Margaret had a servant’s heart. “She was a tiny woman with a huge heart that always sought to console a hurting soul and protect those she loved.” Margaret’s greatest joy was being a mother to Carrie, Mike, and Kim, and a grandmother to Josh, Matt, Amy, and Kaitlyn, and she was very proud of all their accomplishments.
Three years ago she moved into a retirement home. She was still active, and enjoyed weekly meals with her family. She especially enjoyed visiting with her grandson Matt in September, and spending Christmas with her daughters, and my children this year. She will be greatly missed.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:12-13