Perfect Partner, leader of the pack, tireless traveler, serial adventurer, corporate dropout, gardener, tax babe, ski bum, control freak and love of my life, finally ran out of energy from repeatedly kicking the crap out of the cancer that snuck into her lungs 17 months ago.
Though she never completely believed it, Marlene lit up a room like a giant sparkler and infused everyone around her with her boundless energy. Her relentless questioning and penetrating gaze never intimidated but always left you feeling like you were the most important person in the world and someone whose opinions were way more insightful and meaningful than even you believed they were.
She leaves behind a lifetime of brokenhearted friends, enlightened tax clients, saddened family, a thousand challenges she never got time to master, a bewildered Zippy the Dog and lost husband who desperately wishes he had the words to describe how grateful he was to have tricked her into loving him.
She made me promise to thank the many docs whose ministrations gave her the time she needed to visit a few more places, enjoy a few more gatherings of friends, read a few more books and have a few more laughs. Thanks to Drs. Wilcox, Laskin, Sun, Spring and Shaipanich of St. Paul‚s and the BC Cancer Agency, and the wonderful nurses, Levy and Chow; you did your best against long odds. Thanks to the caring nurses at Squamish hospice who made her last hours tender. And special thanks to Dr. Kausky who helped so much along the way and especially at the end; your compassion, warmth, professionalism and determination exemplify what the profession strives for.
So many friends made the journey easier. Sue, who came to the house and accepted the Herculean challenge of making the bane of her existence - her hair - look better than it ever has; Jay, who enabled her to bite me right up to the end; the tireless pharmacy crew at Rexall Marketplace who must have wondered whether she was getting into competition with them, so many were her drugs; special friends Bea, Susan, Linda, Fiona and those I'm insulting with my porous memory, who made sure she never felt alone and abandoned; Kim, who cared for Zippy when we couldn't and countless others who sent flowers, cards, words of encouragement and tender love... thank you all.
Being her mother's daughter and not wanting to inconvenience people with a short notice ceremony, a celebration of Marlene's life will be held sometime around the middle of July. In keeping with her wishes and Whistler's traditions, it will be a joyous occasion.
Marlene was especially grateful to the Callanish Society, a non-profit group of the most talented and compassionate healthcare professionals. At a time when she was struggling to find the strength to carry on, they did what they do best, offer ways to cope and live with a disease that's likely to win in the end. Their retreat and ongoing love, caring and support helped in ways she couldn't find the words to describe. To help them help others, she established the Marlene Siemens Callanish Society Endowment Fund, administered by the Community Foundation of Whistler. It is her heartfelt hope that those of you who wish to honour her and help others fighting their own monster, channel your love and contributions to either the Endowment Fund or to Callanish directly. You can start here:
www.whistlerfoundation.com or (604) 935-8080
www.callanish.org or (604) 732-0633
Rest in peace, my love.