AUGUST 1, 1933 - JULY 20, 2020
In loving memory of Margaret Mooibroek (née Grietje Bosma), who passed away on July 20, 2020 at the age of 86 years.
In keeping with Margaret's wishes, cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers, Margaret’s family kindly requests that all of her friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour her memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos and/or sharing your own memories and stories using the comment section on this page.
Margaret was born August 1, 1933 in the small village of Oostermeer, the Netherlands, the eldest of 10 children born to John and Susan Bosma. Margaret was a calm, quiet, mild-mannered child, intelligent and observant. Her father recalled being able to leave baby Grietje patiently strapped to his bicycle for hours while he tended their small farm. Even as a child, Margaret liked to be neat and tidy, never a hair out of place, the bed made as soon as she got out of it, chores done without a fuss. She excelled at school, achieving top marks and near perfect attendance.
In the strict, conservative environment in which she was raised, Margaret neither sought nor received much praise or recognition; she did what was expected because that was simply her nature. While not openly rebelling, she sympathized with the siblings who had a tougher time conforming. Her closest friends and playmates were her sister Sharon and her mother’s youngest sisters, who were about the same age.
When Margaret was 16, the family emigrated to Canada, sponsored by a farm family near Macdonald, Manitoba. Margaret adapted quickly, adopting an anglicized name and becoming fluent in English. Soon after landing she worked as a maid in Winnipeg, then later at the Royal Bank. At church she met Fred, a young engineer who had similarly emigrated from the Netherlands in hopes of better opportunities in Canada. The couple married in 1954. They had two sons then three daughters in quick succession, the eldest of which were born in the same years as Margaret’s youngest two brothers.
In the ensuing years, Margaret raised the children, cleaned, cooked, laundered and gardened. She did it all in a calm efficient way, using her intelligence and organizational skills to achieve the home and life she aspired to.
With her children, Margaret was firm but much less restrictive than what she had experienced as a girl. While still insisting her children be well mannered and behaved, dressed appropriately and attend church every Sunday, they had relatively few chores and had time to play with friends, listen to top 40 radio, watch the 2 channel black and white TV, talk on the phone, play sports, attend dances and parties and even read in bed (except when visiting Oma and Opa!). In contrast to the norms of her youth, adult Margaret made her own choices, keeping her hair short, wearing pants, growing flowers instead of vegetables, allowing pets in the house and enjoying a wide variety of music and reading material all days of the week.
Unobtrusively and respectively, Margaret paid close attention to everything around her, noticing whatever needed to be done and taking care of it immediately if she could. Her home was always tidy, because Margaret would reflexively pick up and put away anything out of place. She made lists and kept records, remembering and retrieving items stored away for years. Groceries were bought from a list prepared in advance, so as to buy everything needed and avoid impulse purchases. Always conscientious, she thought carefully how she would handle whatever issue came up, rarely asking for help if it was something she could do herself, but always available if friends or family turned to her.
In an era where living well within limited means was greatly respected and admired, there was no one more talented than Margaret. She managed the household finances, using cash deposited monthly in labeled envelopes to teach her children to save up for what they really wanted and to make do otherwise. For years, government baby bonus cheques became the $10 per child monthly clothing budget, which had to cover Sunday church outfits, winter coats, boots and shoes.
Margaret reduced, reused and recycled long before it was fashionable. In pre-blue box days, multiple bins under the kitchen sink were used to conveniently store root vegetables, recyclables and compostables. Her first composter was an old washing machine hull, neatly placed next to the garbage bin in a corner of the back yard. The neighborhood kids thought that was pretty strange.
Margaret had innate good taste and put considerable thought and creativity into the clothing her family wore and the home in which they lived. She was often slow to form an opinion, but once formed she stood by it. If Margaret could come up with a use for an item, she’d collect, clean, repair, label and store it in an organized fashion. Almost anything could be creatively turned into a home décor item, especially if it could display plants. When she purchased new, she selected understated, elegant clothes and furnishings of appropriate scale or occasion, always of excellent fit or finish. Renowned for keeping everything in pristine condition, she took the teasing with good grace.
Gardening was Margaret’s avocation and point of connection with siblings, neighbours and friends. Conversations always included a discussion of what the weather was like and how the garden was faring. Plants were grown from seed or slips and thrived because Margaret ensured they always had the right amount of light and water. For years, she nurtured a row of bright red canna lilies alongside the driveway, overwintering the bulbs in the basement and replanting each spring. More than once, passersby would stop the car to remark on the incredible sight of those tall gorgeous canna lilies in zone three Winnipeg.
After the children were grown and out of the house, Margaret’s interests continued to expand, and life transitioned to new rhythms. Relationships with church friends were deepened by hosting regular dinners together. Annual visits with family became monthly phone calls. There was less work and more laughter, less coffee and more rye and coke. The house was remodeled, and the garden expanded to a landscaped marvel. Margaret had the fountain placed precisely where she and Fred could best enjoy it from their seats in the breezeway.
Spring or fall was often spent crisscrossing North America by car, stopping to visit family but always exploring new routes and enjoy cultural attractions, local restaurants and hotels. During the long car trips, Margaret knitted and crocheted squares which she stitched together to form beautiful queen size bedspreads for each of her children. Later afghans were made for each of the seven grandchildren, who were remembered with special cards every year on their birthdays and at Christmas.
Other transitions were a move from the house in St. Vital to an apartment in Osbourne Village, and from the Christian Reformed Church to the Unitarian church, freeing up more time to spend with friends and pursue the activities Margaret most enjoyed. In wintertime, Margaret and Fred participated fully in church life and discussion groups, and had season tickets to the symphony, opera and theatre. Summers brought time spent on their cabin cruiser at Winnipeg Beach, where they made new friends in the boating community and attended the Unitarian church in Gimli.
Margaret blossomed under the admiration and respect of a wide circle of friends, who valued her not just for what she did, but her thoughts and opinions too. In the words of one of her closest friends, Gini: Margaret was a special friend to many. She was loyal and caring, thoughtful and kind. She was witty and fun to be with. She made incisive observations on events. She was always gracious, welcoming and friendly. She knew how to put people at ease and was a joy to spend time with.
Gifting her lifelong skills of hospitality, organization and stewardship, Margaret contributed greatly to the wellbeing of her church community, organizing, stocking and maintaining the kitchen, collecting matching dishes and towels, doing the laundry, baking for coffee hour and taking care of the plants. She also collected candle stubs and wax, from which she made lovely candles to donate towards church fundraising and give to friends and family.
For years, Fred and Margaret volunteered at the Harvest food bank every week, made coffee for everyone and welcomed clients and volunteers. When illness forced Margaret to ‘retire’ in 2019, the church published a full page bulletin insert acknowledging her work. She was flattered to read the new coordinator was looking for multiple volunteers to replace her.
Less well known was another role that Margaret fulfilled over the years for many close family and friends. When terminal illness was diagnosed or old age took its toll, Margaret was the calm and pragmatic visitor who’d contribute whatever help or comfort was needed, steadfast to the end. When the end inevitably came, it would often be Margaret who did the final sort, retrieving mementoes and collectibles for survivors, bagging and distributing the rest between thrift stores and garbage collection.
To her, this work was no burden but rather a way to express her deep love, compassion and wisdom. Through it, she acted out a practical life philosophy, dwelling neither on goals for the future nor regrets or sorrows of the past. Those anxious or depressive moments were to be kept private. Instead, she took each day as it came, never putting off to tomorrow what could be accomplished today.
Margaret maintained a rare openness to new experiences and made every effort to be present at every get together or event, to make it special and to cherish the memory. She and Fred were proud to attend every child and grandchild wedding and graduation to date. Even closest family though, was surprised when Margaret trusted Cindy to take her on a Jet Ski ride on her 80th birthday!
When Margaret herself was diagnosed with cancer, she met the challenges with characteristic courage, fortitude and grace. She undertook experimental immunoboosting treatment without complaint and carefully tracked her medications, complying with subscribed advice as best she could, fully appreciative of the care provided.
Her strongest desire was to continue her life at home with Fred, carrying out her daily tasks for as long as possible. Fred and Margaret ‘leaned in’ their mutual love and support for each other, making each day as beautiful and special as they could. As Margaret weakened, Fred gradually took over more and more household tasks, so Margaret could devote her energy to a dwindling list of core activities, her phone visits with family and weekly glass of wine with neighbor Gini. Mornings were spent together, Margaret sitting up with Fred beside her watching TV, reading or just chatting together over tea and coffee. Dinners were re-heated foil trays, but transferred to the best china and eaten at the dining room table, elegantly set. They played rummy together daily, as was their habit. The day ended in candlelight and quiet music, sharing a drink and deeply felt gratitude for every precious moment.
When the end came, it came quickly and peaceably. Margaret was transferred to hospice when it became impossible to care for her at home, even with palliative care support. Daughters Marilyn and Cindy were sequentially by Margaret’s side for her last four weeks, with Fred and son John close by, providing the love, comfort and reassurance for Margaret that she had provided for so many others.
Margaret Mooibroek passed away peacefully at Grace Hospice in Winnipeg on July 20, 2020. She is survived by her husband Fred; children Maynard (Marilyn), John (Anna), Cindy (Bob), Marilyn (David), and Sandra; grandchildren Brandon (Kelsey), Ben (Brittany), Eric, Anneka (Robert), Nick, and Luke, great-grandson Gus; siblings Klaas (Gerda), Sadie, Peter (Darlene), Teena (Albert), Bob (Janice), Liz (John), Louis (Penny), and Jerry (Joyce), as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and good friends. She was predeceased by her parents John (2007) and Susan (1994); sister Sharon (2011); granddaughter Maren (2019) and numerous brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
Margaret was born and raised in the Netherlands but lived in Winnipeg for seventy years, mostly in old St. Vital and the last number of years in Osbourne Village. She lived an exemplary life and will be lovingly remembered by all who knew her. In lieu of flowers, please share photos or memories of Margaret at this site or donate to a charity of your choice.
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