Obituary of Betty Duncan
(written by her Jolene, her oldest daughter)
Betty Duncan (born Elizabeth Marie Hyshka) was born March 2nd, 1947 in Cudworth, Sk. Betty passed away in the pre-dawn hours of March 19th, 2021 in the arms of both of her daughters, Jolene and Leanne. After Betty passed, the most beautiful sunrise appeared. The sky was painted beautiful shades of pink and orange. That sunrise will forever be ingrained in our memory because it was a perfect send off to the strongest woman we have ever known. Mom fought a very courageous battle against a rare and aggressive cancer. It was finally time for her to live without pain and suffering and be with the Lord. Leanne and I sung Catholic hymns to her as she took her last breaths, just as we had done growing up in the Cut Knife Catholic church years ago. “Be not afraid, I go before you always, come follow me and I will give you rest…..”
Betty married Bob on October 25th, 1975 and began a life on the farm outside Rockhaven raising us two girls, Jolene and Leanne. Betty was the consummate farm wife; maintaining a large garden and helping with Bob’s horses, often when they needed some type of veterinary help. Her nursing experience helped care for many a horse and colt when nicks and cuts happened out in the pasture. Bob and Betty had a Jack Russell Terrier named Kate who Betty loved more than she ever let on. Kate was allowed in the house to help “clean the kitchen” enjoying little crumbs on the floor before they got swept up. I remember Mom bathing Kate outside and always remarking on how white her fur was after. Kate had a wonderful life on the farm with Bob and Betty.
Betty loved to garden and pickled and canned her gardening treasures all throughout the summer. Cucumbers, lettuce, beans, and zucchini were favourites of hers. Her son-in-law, Ryan and grand-daughter, Reese, will greatly miss her homemade pickles. Leanne was so happy to have made pickles with Mom and to have learned her recipe to then share with her family.
Betty was an avid baker and always had a freezer full of treats to bring out for coffee time and dessert. When the girls came home to visit, there were always fresh cinnamon buns and cupcakes to enjoy. She would usually wait and let the grandkids ice the cupcakes knowing full well they would eat more icing straight from the spoon than would ever actually coat the cupcakes. Leanne helped Mom with her last batch of cinnamon buns, again memorizing every detail to know exactly how Mom made them. Mom knew what each family favourite was and made sure everyone had their fill. For Pete, it was her Christmas time poppycock and Lemon Meringue Pie. He knew he would leave Betty’s house a good 5lbs heavier than when he arrived. For the grandkids, it was cupcakes and all the hidden chocolates, candies, and gum she would magically appear with. I am sure the grandkids thought she was a magician with how she always came out with some magical treat in her hands.
Betty worked as a LPN in Cut Knife for over 30 years; first at the Cut Knife Health Complex later transitioning to the Cut Knife Special Care Home. She was hard working and dependable, never taking a sick day. I am quite sure Mom never knew the effect she had on me as I was so proud of my Mom being a nurse; being the one people called in an emergency. I thought this was the most wonderful calling ever! She greatly influenced my life as I also chose a career in nursing and, 21 years later, still work as a nurse taking great pride in the profession. Mom was a good nurse; logical, practical, strong stomach, and stepped in when there was a task to be done.
Betty loved to play cards, especially crib whether it be with her friends or with Bob after dinner. Each grandkid learned to play cards at Mom’s table. She always helped them and let them “cheat” because that is just what Grammas do. During the last few months when Mom lost the use of her left arm, Bob “woodshopped” a card holder so Mom could still play, but without having to hold the cards herself. She would say it certainly did not help her win more games though as Bob always seemed to come up with all kinds of card playing luck!
Betty loved her grandchildren. Kenzie, Reese, Jade, Pierce, and Jace always brought a smile and laugh to her face. Gramma Betty was famous for the packages she mailed to each household at every special occasion and, also “just because”. These packages were highlights when the kids came home from school and saw the mailman had left a ‘Gramma Betty Package’ at the front door, knowing they would be filled with all kinds of chocolate, goodies, games, crafts, jewelry, and toys. Jace asked me if Papa Bob would be sending the packages now…he is only 4 yet he has this memory ingrained in his heart.
Betty is survived by her husband of 46 years, Bob, her daughters Jolene (Pete) Jade, Pierce, and Jace and Leanne (Ryan) Kenzie and Reese.
Betty will be deeply missed by her family and friends. She was a special lady and I truly wish she knew the love we had for her in life as we are showing her in death with the endless supply of tears running down our face. Her girls will sorely miss their Mom. Our life will be empty and lonely without her. How does one get over the loss of their Mom? Mom gave us so many things that in death we are not only seeing, but seeing the true value of. Mom loved to read and passed this on to Leanne and me at an early age. Our Thursday trips to the bookmobile in Rockhaven were highlights of our week, for us and her! Leanne and I can finish a book in a day if we are allowed the time. My daughter Jade is always immersed in a book; Mom would say “What is Jade doing? Reading I bet.” Mom loved crafts and working with her hands; it came so easy to her. Leanne is the same. Mom and Leanne can sew, knit and crochet anything with only the pattern in their head. They would sit at night while watching tv and beautiful items would be born out of their handiwork. Mom would put John Deere patches on Pierce’s jeans when he was little. She would sew Barbie clothes for Leanne and I when we were little. The girls always had cozy, fleece housecoats, scarves, shawls, and toques. I love to garden, just like Mom; we loved to stroll nurseries together and imagine where we could plant beautiful flowers and shrubs. Leanne and I snuck crystal glasses and a bottle of wine into Mom’s room and had one last glass of wine with Mom while we told stories, laughed, and cried. Mom was sleeping by then, but she would have absolutely loved this conversation. She would have been both appalled and proud that we snuck wine into the hospital. She would have said “oh good for you, life is too short”.
The town of Cut Knife is a little quieter without her. She was a presence in town, a constant. She was a doer and a helper. She was someone you could count on to not only show up to fall suppers, but to bring 4 pies as well. She cared for her community and was an active face around town. She sure enjoyed her last years learning to bowl at the bowling center. She always said she never thought she would become a bowler and she had a knack for it too! She was very proud when Leanne gifted her a pair of new bowling shoes for Christmas! A special memory for Leanne was watching Mom teach Kenzie and Reese how to bowl….they had such fun.
Life is so very short so hug and love those around you as much as you can. Count not things, but memories. In memory of Betty, please make cinnamon buns and enjoy one with a hot coffee while ‘Be Not Afraid’ (a Catholic hymn) plays in the background. Think of a special memory you had with her and then go on with your day and be happy. Betty would be very satisfied with that. She was a practical woman who would not want us being sad and dwelling in grief, but I hope she knows there is a reason we are crying all these tears. We loved her. We really loved her. Rest in peace Mom, you earned it.
A Funeral Service for Mrs. Betty Duncan will be held at a later date. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Trevor Watts of Eternal Memories Funeral Service & Crematorium.
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