Leona Lucille THEW
Leona Lucille Thew (Blackburn) was born in Chicoutimi Quebec on July 19, 1935 to Alva and George Blackburn. Leona was one of 12 children.
In 1946, when Leona was 11 years old, her parents decided to make the journey to McLennan Alberta, and they would reside there until 1950 when they would make there final move as a family to Jean Cote. At the time Leona was 15 and would work in a camp with her mother cooking and cleaning.
Leona would not live in Jean Cote for long as she would decide to move to Edmonton, where she would work in the maternity ward at the Misericordia Hospital. During this time, unbeknownst to Leona, she would meet her future brother in law, who was visiting a patient.
Sometime later Leona would meet and eventually marry Donald Edward Thew on June 14, 1958. They would have 4 children:
The first, her only son, Donny would be born later that year. The smallest of her babies, as she would tell her girls in later years, Donny was a handful. Always into something from getting in trouble at school, to drag racing, Donny would often do what he was told not to do! As a child he would wonder off while at the family cabin and fall into a wasp nest. Mom and Dad would gather all the kids into the car and rush to the hospital, it was a long car ride for his sister Maryann who was afraid of bees….
[Fun Fact: Mom didn’t understand our (MaryAnn and Barb’s) phobia of bees but she herself had an unconventional fear of caterpillars! Explain that.]
As a teenager Donny would find out the hard way that you never mess with Mom… he would come home one evening, drunk and demand that Mom remove his boots and cook his meals. Mom went into the kitchen and returned shortly deciding that he needed to sleep it off; and at this point instead of using the frying pan to cook she would wack him with it…. She didn’t hurt him, but Seriously you don’t mess with Mom!
Rose would be born in the spring 2 years later. Her first daughter, but Rose too would be a handful. From sneaking out to go hang out with friends, and getting lost at k-days. Rose would do what Rose wanted to do. Mom said she gave her the most worries, and so Rose would find herself on the end of Moms frustration and often be in trouble. Rose would always be there for Mom though, but still found herself in hot water for something (these are Roses words not mine…).
You would think after these two, they would just give up, but I guess they were hopeful because…
2 years later their 2nd daughter MaryAnn would be born. Mom used to laugh because while she was pregnant she couldn’t get enough lemons, and she would think to herself this baby is going to be a sourpuss when she’s born. Instead MaryAnn was an easy baby, but she had no hair… for 2 years, no hair; Mom thought she would be bald for ever…. But eventually MaryAnn’s hair came in and she had a ton of it, and it was curly. Mom never could get over how much and how curly MaryAnn’s hair was.
MaryAnn and Mom would share many good times and a love for one of Moms favourite movies “Rhinestone”. There is a scene where Sylvester Stallone is singing a country song on the porch and even the dogs are howling or running away. They laughed so hard we had to pause the movie.
[Fun Fact: Mom loved another movie, which no one would ever think she would watch, it was a trilogy and she watched it with Barb over the Christmas Break for many years… It was “Lord of the Rings”, and she loved Gollum. It was funny because first she would think he can’t be trusted, then she would sympathize with him and be angry about how he was treated, then by the end of the film she would hope he falls in the fire. The next time she watched it, knowing how it ends, she would once again go through all the emotions. I’m not sure she knew the rest of the story, but she knew Gollum’s!]
With MaryAnn, they must have thought finally, we have such a good baby! But… the best was yet to come. (Yes, Barb is authoring this story… hehehehe)
7 long years later their last daughter was born. Barb decided to enter this world on the coldest day possible, after first making her mom go to the hospital on January 1st (it was a false alarm). In the midst of one of the coldest winter on record, the pipes in our family home froze and burst leaving them without heat, and Mom goes into labour! All Dad could do was drop mom off at the hospital and return home to fix the pipes. All the other kids had to go to some family friends and they were not happy.
Barb was not a handful, but she was challenging and sarcastic… Mom blamed Dad for that and she was justified. After all when Barb was 5 years old she told the newspaper kid to “get his bike off the new lawn or she would “kick him in the ass with a frozen boot”. As Mom pointed out this was Dads saying as she shot him with eye daggers.
Barb and Mom shared many memories, as Mom would move in with Barb and her daughter after Mom retired.
Note: Mom and Dad had another daughter, Peggy Lynn, between the births of MaryAnn and Barb, but unfortunately Peggy Lynn would not survive 24 hours.
As we were growing up, we could always count on eating well. Mom was an amazing cook, making recipes she learned from her Mom. To this day, we have never had a better cinnamon bun then Moms. Her bread would rise so much that she started with these tiny buns and they would be a meal on there own by the time they came out of the oven. Neighbourhood kids would all come running when Mom was baking.
Mom, Dad, Uncle Rod and many other friends loved to dance and have fun. They were members of the Loyal Order of Moose. They would often venture out on a Friday or Saturday night, then come home where they would break out into song, and not well. With uncle playing the spoons, they would belt out their version of “Green Leaves”; I’m sure those were the only words they knew. Their “singing” would wake us up so that we too could enjoy their early version of Karaoke, without the music!
Mom loved to open her home to our friends, they all called her Mom or “ Mrs T”. And I can’t tell you how many neighbourhood kids referred to her as Aunty Lee. Mom tolerated a lot, many weekends turned into a party with Donny and MaryAnn’s friends, and Mom would be front and center telling stories, and calling BS. Eventually she would retire for the evening only to get up later and find many of the guests passed out on the floor; Mom would cover them with sheets and then cook them breakfast in the morning.
Later while living with Barb and her daughter Cassie, Mom would enjoy watching Cassie and her friends play rock band, I think she wanted to play, but she struggled with video games… but Cassie and her friends loved her just the same!
Speaking of Grandkids, Mom sure loved hers and they loved her. She was in the delivery room with almost all of them. She had to be with Donny’s three kids because he was a big chicken (Trudi’s words not mine…) and She was in the room with Barb and Maryann, because well they were both single and wanted their Mom!
Jessica, the 1st grandchild was born early and a blessing to her parents and Mom (now referred to as Grandma). She enjoyed spending time with Jessica, and often wished she could see her more often. Jessica would eventually live closer to Grandma and would spend more time visiting. Later on Jessica would have 4 children, making her a Great Grandma! Jessica’s only daughter Savannah recently said she would miss spending time with Great Grandma, especially the shopping trips and teasing grandma (Rose) together.
Mellisa the 2nd grandchild spent weekends with Grandma! Mellisa was always worried, asking grandma not to smoke, because she wanted grandma to always be there. She lovingly referred to grandma as Frenchie. Mellisa loved grandmas cooking, especially her meatballs and steak pie.
Robert the 3rd grandchild is very sensitive and protective. Robert often checked in on grandma and if he couldn’t find her would call Aunt Barb. He was always worried and protective. Robert would always stay close to grandma at family events, and would tend to her needs. Robert would have two children, Novella who wants to learn to Crochet, one of Moms many skills; and Dresden who is the spitting image of Robert in many ways; something Mom couldn’t get over.
David the 4th grandchild just loves to laugh and have fun, he too referred to grandma as Frenchie and they enjoyed teasing each other. David could always make grandma laugh and she adored him with all her heart. Grandma would say he is so creative and witty, just like grandpa. David also gave her 2 beautiful great grandchildren.
Cassandra the 5th grandchild had a very special bond with Grandma. Mom moved in with us after she retired and was a prominent figure in Cassie’s life. Through thick and thin Cassie could always go to her grandma for anything.
One of Grandmas favourite memories with Cassie was one supper Mom made up a plate for Cassie, who was 2 years old, and gave it to her… Within seconds Cassie was crying and gagging. I rushed over to her and asked her what was wrong. Cassie looked up at me and said “Grandma put Poop in my plate” this was her first time seeing meatballs…. Moms jaw literally fell to the floor, while MaryAnn and I laughed super hard!!!
Kayla, the 6th grandchild known as “baby K” as she was the last grandchild and a handful. She was running before she crawled and constantly into something. Creating structures to climb onto the fridge or disappearing like magic. Kayla would often scare grandma. Grandma and Kayla would bake together, but like her Mom and Aunt Barb, Kayla was more about eating the batter than baking.
Mom also had many fury babies, and grandbabies, that she spoiled so much. She would often visit us just to spend time with the animals. In mid conversation, she would just ignore you and start playing with the animals.
[Fun Fact: one of Mom’s quirks was never getting her kids name right; she would pick a name and go down the list until she managed to get your attention. We cannot tell you how often we were called Snoopy. For some, she knew there name but came up with her own version of it while claiming she was saying them right… Kayla’s husband Rex, was known as “Reck”, and Kurtis, a long time family friend was “the boy”. ]
Outside of the family Mom was blessed with amazing and supportive friends, they would stand by her through thick and thin. Nothing broke her bond with her friends, even when Mom was cheating at cards… Yes she would say “I don’t cheat, I’m just smart at cards”. Trust us, she was cheating.
Mom, MaryAnn, and I would often stay up till the wee morning hours, playing cards with one of her best friends Annette, who Mom met while working at Dickensfield Extended Care Centre as a Nurses Aide in OT. And it was never a nice quiet get together. Mom would even trump her partner MaryAnn, and then MaryAnn would stare her down leaving Annette and I to fall to the floor laughing. Seriously you should see the look MaryAnn would give her; only to have mom come back and crinkle her nose and say, “You be quiet you. You don’t know, I know what I’m doing. I thought I would bust a gut!
Mom and Annette were like Thelma and Louise, you never knew what they were up to, or going to do next. Thankfully Annette had 5 children, and we all worked together to keep them out of trouble…
Speaking of trouble another of Moms dearest and longest friends, Baba Ryski, called us one day because she had lost her Mother-in-Law, who we will refer to as Old Baba. She was hoping we knew where mom and Old Baba might be, as she had been calling all day looking for them. MaryAnn and I had just returned home from the lake, and had no idea where the two could have gone. Turns out they went for lunch, then decided to go play bingo; they were having such a good time, they got supper there and then played evening bingo as well. After bingo they called Baba Ryski for a ride. This lovely woman who never judged anyone and was the kindest person I know to this day lectured the two woman all the way home. Mom never did that again.
Mom and the Baba Ryski met every Saturday for breakfast for well over 20 years. It was so amazing, people often wanted to join them, and sometimes were lucky enough too. It was always a treat when Mrs. Osbak joined as well; Mom would come home exhilarated from the laughter.
Family, Friends and People in general, loved Leona. She opened her home and kitchen to them and loved to be the host. Leona will be missed.
We welcome you to share your memories with Leona below in the comments.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Leona on March 19, 2022 between 1 and 4 PM at the residence of MaryAnn Thew. Please RSVP to Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend. A lunch will be available; we are cooking up Moms favourite recipes. We hope you can make it.