Brenda Jean TROUT
Remembering Momma Brenda
Brenda Jean Trout was born in Calgary Alberta on May 24, 1945 to Stella Elizabeth and Lewis Leslie Gunn. The family soon moved to Vancouver where they lived until moving to Edmonton in 1953. In Edmonton, Brenda attended Coronation Elementary School, Westminster Junior High, and Ross Sheppard High School. Her best school girl chum throughout these years was Gail Pepper. Gail and Mom had lots of adventures together during junior high and high school but one in particular linked them together for the rest of their lives, Halloween.
Every Halloween Mom would deck us out in home sewn costumes that she made every year. After we had trick or treated in our neighborhood, Brenda would pack us up in the car and take us to visit Blanche and Harvey Mackenzie, and Gail with her kids, Valerie and Michelle, would meet us there. The tradition began when Mom and Gail each dated Jim Mac Kenzie and spent Halloween at their home. Mom and Gail had enjoyed going so much, they started going for Halloween every year. Even after Gail and husband Bob Hollingshead moved to Victoria, the friends never missed connecting every year at Halloween.
Brenda did not graduate from Ross Sheppard as the family moved to San Diego California for her father’s health in 1962. Brenda graduated grade 12 from Helix High School in 1963 wearing a fairy princess dress in pale pink, with shoes and hair dyed to match, care of her California bestie, Diane Steele. High school reunions were favorite memories for Mom. She missed California life and her friends there and was fortunate to attend her 10th, 20th AND 30TH year reunions to catch up.
Mom moved back to Edmonton in 1964 where she met John Emerson Trout, whom she would marry in March of 1965. After getting married, John and Brenda moved into Lendrum Apartments. It was there that Brenda met her life-long best friend, Bunny Gautier (Bourgeois) and her husband Mel who lived in the apartment next door. As Bunny and Brenda were young moms, the two couples would share many late evenings’ playing cards while their babies slept. Bunny and Brenda then both joined Beta Sigma Phi Sorority in Edmonton. For years, the two of them spent many an evening together at meetings, events and selling programs for the Eskimos and Oilers. Mom talked often of being asked to play Santa or Elvis at the Sorority parties. Mom cherished her friendship with Bunny and they remained the best of friends until Mom passed.
Brenda left behind working after marrying John to become a stay- at- home mom for the next 10 years. Terri-Lynn was born September 8, 1965, Donald Cameron on September 25, 1967 and John Jason on January 10, 1970. Brenda always loved kids and she made so many happy memories for us growing up. As the family grew, Brenda and John moved to Laurier Heights. While we were all very young, I remember lots of family barbeques, picnics and parties hosted by Mom at the Laurier house. John curled a lot and would often invite friends from Crestwood Curling rink over for cards and cocktails. Brenda loved entertaining and having people over and would always make a pot of chili or her famous party spaghetti for her guests.
After divorcing in 1975, Brenda moved to Willowdale village in Callingwood with her three kids. Times were tough and mom spent 2-3 years working as an office temp while juggling raising 3 kids, hockey practices and skating lessons, and being on her own. She was devastated when her two boys moved to the Yukon where they would live with their dad in Whitehorse. At such a distance, Mom did not often get to see Don and Jay. Although they did return to Edmonton three years later, they proved to be more than she could manage at that time and returned to the Yukon for the remainder of their youth. She was so thankful when both boys learned to drive and would make the trip to Edmonton to see her more often. There was always pure delight in her eyes whenever they came to town.
While Don and Jay lived in the Yukon, I continued to live with mom at our home in the west end. Those years Brenda devoted countless hours to my activities with the International Order of Job’s Daughters. Brenda was a Job’s Daughter while in high school in Edmonton and I remember how proud she was that I had joined Bethel #10, the very same Bethel that she had belonged to 20 years prior. Meetings, Drill team practice, Choir practice, church parades, kidnap breakfasts, chaperoning dances, sleep overs, and Grand Sessions, Mom was there every time. She helped me plan my 3 terms as Honored Queen and with her flower arranging talents, created corsages and floral arrangements for each one. She also spent two years traveling the province for my role as Jubilee Chapter Sweetheart and Alberta DeMolay Association Sweetheart.
Our house was the house on the block where all friends were welcome, and it was a revolving door of activity most days. Mom even took in my best friends, Tracey Anderson and Laurie Price to live with us during that time, when they needed a temporary home. She also rented out our extra room to other young woman in need of accommodation, at one time accepting a French horn for rent when money was not available. Mom worked as a Nanny for several families throughout these years and ran the Day cares during ladies curling at a couple rinks in the city.
It was also during this time that Brenda took up Bingo. She started going weekly with our next door neighbor, Cindy , while I babysat Cindy’s kids. It was very lucrative for me as they played often. She would go on playing bingo throughout her life, most often with her friends Flo and Chuck Mann. For years, I knew that if I could not find mom at home, she was more than likely over at Flo’s or with Flo at Allendale bingo. She was very lucky at Bingo, even when she moved into her home at Terra Lossa , where the Bonanza’s didn’t really amount to much, but a win was still a win.
While I was at University and busy becoming a teacher, Mom was living on her own at Surrey Gardens. It was very lonely for her so she spent a lot of time with her good friend Jackie Hebert, who she met through Grandma Stella and Grampa Bill. Jackie lived on an acreage in Ardrosson, east of Edmonton. It was a long drive for Mom so she often stayed there for two or three days at a time. Jackie raised Collies and horses and Mom loved to spend time with Jackie and all the animals. Mom also loved to listen and sing while Jackie played the piano. They shared a love of music and laughter and she cherished their friendship.
Mom was constantly lucky at cards and enjoyed playing a variety of card games. Often claiming not to remember how to play, Brenda always ended up with a rummy, a gin, or winning at crib or poker. Sunday dinners at Grandma’s always ended with a card game or two. After Stella passed, we continued to play cards after holiday dinners with Aunty Marge and Brenda’s nephews, Brent and Mark Dippie. It is surprising that she won given her complete lack of a poker face. Brent remembers her light up as she would raise her elbow up and announce “That’s a tucker” as she tucked the card into her hand.
Jay married Tricia Milward on October 10, 1998, which just happened to fall on Auntie’s birthday. That happened a lot for our family with births and anniversaries happening on the same day. This was the first time Mom got to witness one of her children get married and she was over- the- moon. It was so important for her to get a picture of our family after the ceremony, with her and Dad and their 3 children together.
Brenda waited a long time for grandchildren, even stating that as her hobby in the write up for her 30th High school reunion. She was blessed with two grandsons that she adored; Emerson and Everett Trout, sons of her “baby boy” Jay. First born son Don and daughter Terri only provided Mom with grand puppies; Luka, Penny, Trigger, Piper and Winston. She did not have dogs of her own and enjoyed coming over to spend time with the dogs, usually sipping on a “Screw-up” while sunning on our patio, or nursing an egg-nog with the dogs on the couch at Christmas.
Mom always loved Christmas and Christmas’ were her true joy while Emerson and Everett were young. We travelled to Maple Ridge and Seattle to Christmas with Jay and Trisha for Emerson’s first and second Christmas, and then to the “Ranch” in Grande Prairie after they moved there in 2005 when Everett was just 2 years old. Mom always wanted to give the boys gifts they would love, but sometimes her gifts were…odd. It was always a surprise when you were opening a gift from Brenda.
Having a car and being able to drive were very important to Mom. She named all of her cars “Betsy.” Brenda loved having a vehicle as it gave her the freedom to go places. She wasn’t always the best about car maintenance and had a couple memorable incidents. Losing her muffler in the middle of 87th avenue when driving me to work at Meadowlark , or spending New Year’s Eve with two young men who stopped to change her flat tire on the Whitemud Drive come to mind. She also lost her car a few times, under the snow at West Edmonton Mall and once misplacing her car Downtown. We got a call from whichever kind police officer she found letting us know that she was fine and was waiting for us to pick her up at the police station. Mom always knew to ask for help and I am so thankful for all the kind people that came to her rescue over the years.
Travel was something that Brenda always wanted to do more of. She travelled to Grand Cayman and Hawaii with John when they were married and we spent summers visiting Penticton, where the family rented a trailer on Okanagan Lake. She camped throughout Alberta and BC in the 80’s and in the early in the 90’s, was proud to have visited every province in Canada. Brenda finally got to the Yukon Territory to visit Don Trout and wife Kaya Van Wert after John had passed. Don remembers Mom with Kaya laughing and giggling as they took Sam Johnson and Douglas Dickson to the cleaners in Texas Hold Em.
Mom also made lots of family trips to see her sister Marge in Seattle. She was so proud of her sister and loved going sailing with her on Puget Sound. The sisters both loved the ocean and in 2008 Brenda, Marge and I embarked on a Hawaii cruise together. While Marge and I were touring and taking Mojitos making classes, Mom was sunning poolside, chatting with anyone who would listen to her stories. She was never too shy to strike up a conversation with anyone she encountered. She loved being in the sun and in the water, floating more than swimming, and was determined to one day live in a place that had a pool, like her apartment in San Diego.
There were two big vacations that were very special to Mom. Brenda took a girl trip to Seattle, La Conner and Orcas Island and Victoria with sister, Marge, and best friend Bunny in 2000. They had a lovely time and Mom came home feeling quite pampered.
The second was a gift for Mom’s 70th birthday when her kids all took her to Las Cabos Mexico for Christmas. The trip got extended to include Jay’s marriage to his second wife Eve in 2015. By that time, Brenda’s mobility was limited so we pushed her around the resort from room to pool to buffet in a wheelchair. One of Jay’s best memories of the trip was watching Mom do aqua fit, just the arm movements, pool side from her lounge chair, waving a cigarette in her hand. The class leader didn’t seem to mind that she wasn’t in the pool, cheering her on “You got it Mommasita!” In spite of her sore leg, she walked across the sand with son Don at her side to see the wedding ceremony.
Once Brenda’s mobility worsened, and several years of home care, she moved into supportive living at Lifestyle options at Terra Lossa. Brenda had a knee replacement in 2019 that she never quite recovered from. Her world became very small and quiet at Terra Lossa, especially when Co-vid put the building into isolation for almost a year. Our family is so grateful for the care and compassion provided to Brenda while she lived at Terra Lossa, especially when we were restricted to visiting with her over the balcony.
Once Brenda was able to leave the residence again, she spent many days with Darren and me at our home in the West end. She was extremely fond of Darren, some saying she liked him more than me. He made her laugh and would listen to her stories like it was always the first time. His favorite story was Brenda riding a horse during the opening ceremony for Groat Road in the 1950’s. Darren spent hours taking Mom to doctor appointments, helping to move her twice, and transporting her to and from our home for Sunday’s dinners. Dinners were most often Chinese food, as that was always her favorite.
I had the privilege of being the daughter of Brenda Trout for 56 years. She taught me to be kind, to have patience, and that obstacles were easier to overcome together. I will remember Momma Brenda, as she was known to most, for her love of family, her joy of being with the people she loved, and for her smile and laughter throughout my life. She will live in my heart always and will be missed every day. Go in peace Mom. Love you so much.
It will soon be one year since Brenda passed, but good memories don’t leave us and I’m fortunate to have so many of those. Old childhood memories, and recent phone calls prior to her passing. You are remembered my dear long time pal. Gail Hollingshead (and Bob too).