LINDA GAIL PIPPY
May 13, 1950 – March 29, 2021
On March 29, 2021, Linda passed away after a very lengthy battle with cancer. She is survived by her daughter Rhonda Hayden (Randy); son Mark Hindmarsh; daughter Carmen Doucette (Eric); and son Richard Pippy; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Donations can be made to Cancer Care Manitoba or to Hands of Hope.
In accordance with her wishes, cremation has taken place and no formal service will be held. Interment to take place at a later date. Linda’s family kindly requests that her friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour her memory by visiting her tribute page at EthicalDeathCare.com. A photo-biography, as well as memories and stories published by those who knew her, are available there.
What a weird world we live in. Hi! My name is Carmen, and I am Linda’s third-born child. I am writing this informal-style tribute to my Mom, as COVID-19 has decimated public gatherings and social rituals of all kinds. Normally, we’d publish a factual biography-style writeup of Mom’s life and share a more personal oral eulogy at a funeral. Normally, we’d all congregate at a funeral home for a service and tell anecdotes about Mom. We’d laugh and cry and – gasp – hug each other! We’d sign a guest book with a pen that someone else had touched!
In lieu of all that, I’d like to invite you along as I stroll down memory lane with my Mom. I’d love to hear your stories, so please share your own memories in the comments. I advise you to get your favourite beverage of choice, as I’m fairly wordy – I get that from Mom! There’s fresh tea in the teapot, so help yourself.
My Mother was one of the nicest people around. She was hard to get to know, I’ll be the first to admit, but she loved people. She was one of the most introspective and thoughtful people I knew.
She was born in Winnipeg in May 1950, during a large spring flood at “the Forks” where the Assiniboine River meets the Red River. She spent all of her childhood in the neighbourhood of St. Vital. She grew up in the house that her father, Gus Tonn, a carpenter, had built himself. She lived there with her father Gus, mom Alice (Overwater) Tonn, and her younger brother, Roy. They often had at least one dog and one cat.
She was “quiet and shy” when she was young. Those were her words. I think she always felt a lot of social anxiety. Her first job was as a waitress for a local restaurant, and she loved it because she could interact with her high school peers. She took up baton twirling, and was often the best in the class. Once, she led the Winnipeg Santa Clause Parade.
She was an average student, and she loved biology and English best. She wanted to be a draftsperson, drawing blueprints, but didn’t have the courage to go to trade school immediately after high school. There were few women in the industry at the time, and she probably felt she didn’t have the grades to pursue post-secondary education.
She married young – when she was just 20 years old. She often said that she married too young, but she caught the attention of a guy named Robert, and they got married. They had two children together – Rhonda and Mark. They divorced after a number of years of marriage.
I often admired her for her choice to separate, as that was in the late-70’s, and it wasn’t socially acceptable in her church at the time. She loved being a Mother, and every choice she made was the one that she thought was best for her children. She put aside her friendships and her hobbies during the years when her children were young (She often said, “No, I don’t remember Star Wars [or any other pop culture reference from the 70’s/80’s/90’s]. I was busy raising kids!”). When she was a single mother, she earned a bookkeeping diploma and went to work to support her family. When it was feasible, she chose to stay home. She focused on healthy, nutrient-dense, homemade foods long before it was a popular trend. When she felt it was best, she homeschooled her children. All four of us were homeschooled at different parts of our education, though never at the same time!
In the early 1980’s, she met my Dad, Rick, and they married shortly after. They had Carmen (me) and Richard. There’s a sixteen-year difference in age between Mom’s oldest and youngest children. Rhonda and Mark grew up and started their adult lives. Mom and Dad moved to Newfoundland in 1994, when Richard and myself were 6 and 11 years old respectively.
She took secondary education seriously. When Richard was a teenager, she began taking classes at the local community college. She earned a diploma in Architecture Engineering Technology at the College of the North Atlantic. She never did give up that dream of being a draftsperson. She knew “what she wanted to be when she grew up”, and I think that’s pretty rare. She started school when I was in grade 10, and she really struggled with those first few years when she was learning how to study after being out of school for almost 40 years. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Once she graduated, she then went to Memorial University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in German and English. She graduated when she was 66 years old. She worked many interesting jobs over the years: writer for small-town publications, at an architect firm, for an interior designer, Tim Horton’s, H & R Block, even running her own tour business just before the economy crash of 2008. Even though she was often the stay-at-home partner, she still taught me that circumstances change over time, and sometimes it’s fun to “sharpen one’s skills” and try something new. “That’s too difficult” was never part of her vocabulary, ever, in my entire life.
She loved to travel. Every year when we were young, we’d spend time camping. If we had the money, we would go on a road trip in the autumn. Every vacation was spent in a vehicle. Rhonda and Mark travelled to a few places including Niagara Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota. Carmen and Richard went on road trips to Yellowstone National Park; Victoria, B.C.; and to Newfoundland, during an epic 3-week vacation in 1991, camping in the back of our Chevy Suburban. Mom loved Newfoundland so much, that Dad put in a transfer request, which was accepted three years later.
When the kids were older, Rick and Linda took trips to San Diego, California; Mexico; New York; among others. She did three solo trips to Europe – two to study at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, as part of her studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The third was just for fun, and she went to as many different countries as she could – France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland. Mom and Dad separated amicably after 32 years of marriage. I suspect that both of them believed that the marriage had been very successful and had run its’ course.
She was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011. Treatments appeared to keep it in check, but there was always a 20-25% chance that they never got it all. She was healthy for a few years, then learned it came back in 2016. She was doing a Masters of Journalism at the time, but never did complete it due to her health and stress. Manitoba was still “home” to her, even after living in Newfoundland for 20+ years. She made arrangements to have her remains sent back to Manitoba, then decided that she’d rather spend her last years cultivating friendships from decades prior. She got clearance from her doctor to fly and booked a flight to Winnipeg for the very next day. She got an apartment and lived independently until the day she died. I can only hope to be so independent in my 70’s.
All in all, my Mom lived a full and healthy, happy life. She was a realist, which balanced my optimistic nature quite nicely. Nothing ever stopped her from pursuing her dreams, and that’s one of the things I admire most about her. She was organized and detail-oriented, and she passed those traits onto us children (I think all four of us children inherited the “label boxes” gene!). Thanks for sticking around to hear her story. I’m off to get more tea, as the teapot was a gift from her when I got my first apartment when I was 20.
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