Obituaries

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Catherine ( Cathie ) Mary MUSGREAVE

August 31, 1951 - June 5, 2013

She was always known as Cathie, with a C not a K and and not a “y.”

Born: 31 August 1951 in Pincher Creek, Alberta

Cathie was the third of six children.

Beloved daughter of the late Bill and June Musgreave, predeceased by her sister Jean Elizabeth Barry (Jeanie).

She was a daughter, sister, niece, aunt to 4 nieces and 4 nephews as well as great aunt to 6 great nieces and one (1) great nephew.

Cathie was born with Down’s Syndrome at a time when people with Down’s were hidden away from mainstream society in large Institutions. People with Down’s at this time were called “Retarded. Our parents refused this “Ideal” bringing Cathie home. When Cathie was born “expectations for her life were limited to say the least.” Our parents were told that Cathie would never be able to walk, talk or do any of the “normal” developmental things that children do. Cathie went on to defy the supposed experts with the loving support of our parents. Cathie remained at home until my parents learned of a School in Edmonton that specialized in educating children with Down’s.

Cathie was 8 years old in 1959 she left the family to live with our maternal grandparents in Edmonton, where she attended the Winifred Stuart School for The Mentally Retarded Children. Our mother would catch the Greyhound to Edmonton when school was out and bring Cathie home. In 1963 our parents relocated to Edmonton where we were a complete family once again.

Cathie was a VERY special person who enriched the lives of those around her. She had a smile for everyone she met and a warm “Hi how are you?”

Not only did Cathie attend School, she learned to read, write and do basic arithmetic. She printed very precisely and loved to make lists of the books she read. She also learned to swim and was very good at it.

Cathie had the patience of a Saint and could work at a task for hours on end and never complain. Later in her life this lead to her “training” at the Industrial Research and Training Centre in Edmonton. She would solder circuit boards for AGT, now Telus and of the thousands that were corrected at this facility none were returned. One of her favourite pastimes was listening to records and singing along. Unfortunately Cathie was tone deaf and try as she might, she was badly off key.

Cathie also loved to dance and enjoyed attending the monthly dance night at the School she previously attended. I often took her once I learned to drive and can remember how much she enjoyed not only the dancing, but the social aspect. No one ever judged your ability to keep rhythm.

Our parents retired to Victoria in November 1977 and Cathie began to attend a Program that is known today as CAP (Community Access Program). She began to work on ceramics and work on “contracts” for various businesses in the community that required patience as they were repetitive. Bowling was a sport she loved and looked forward too.

Cathie was taught to use the “Regular” bus system and would walk to the CAP Program up hill from Shelbourne Street. This activity kept her slim and trim. At first our parents did not believe Cathie was capable of learning such a task. In the early 1980’s she began to do Contract work through CAP for The Ministry of Finance at their office building on Fort and Cook. Cathie would sit in a cubicle and painstakingly check envelopes (by the Postal Bag full) for any forms, cheques or papers that had been missed. This job gave her a sense of belonging and purpose. This position lasted over 11 years and was ended when the NDP formed the government. Cathie did not understand why she was no longer needed and had to return to the regular program. It was about this time that we lost our mother whom Cathie was very close too. She next worked at a Daycare cleaning toys and other things. This contract placement was not a good fit for Cathie through no fault of hers.

Cathie continued to live with our father who did his best for her, until he passed away in 2000. Cathie then had to transition into a family home. It was our parents wish and desire that Cathie should never be placed in a “group home.” She had lived with her family solely for 49 years.

The years since have been challenging for Cathie. She had lost the two people she loved and was loved by most of all in the world. Cathie is what I like to think of as a survivor. She maintained a happy demeanor generally; however, there was a point when nothing could move Cathie once she decided she was not going to do something.

A number of years ago it became noticeable that something was changing for Cathie. She was moved once again and had to change programs. Cathie was voicing strongly she wanted to retire.

In 2010 Cathie had declined to the point that she required 24 hour care and thus moved to Sentinel House. She finally became that lady of leisure she wanted to be. She took many trips to the Museum, Butchart Gardens, Butterfly World just to name a few. It became apparent that she was no longer able to carry on the multitude of crafts she had previously done. This was indeed a sad day for her and her family.

The one pleasure Cathie maintained until just recently was her love of coffee and donuts. Cathie was a hoarder that easily could have made the television series. This must be a trait that runs through the family as I can assure you Cathie was not the only one. She collected wool for corking (by the bin full), pens, pencils, erasers, stickers, pins, little note books and who knows what. Cathie loved to enter craft fairs and sell her various crafts. She loved garage sales and collected books. Each time she has moved we have been forced to downsize her collections. This was a point of frustration for everyone involved.

Today we celebrate Cathie’s life. She was a loving woman who genuinely loved and cared for her family. She faced challenges that most of never will, simply because she looked different. People would sit and just stare at her. Cathie’s reaction was to smile and say “Hi how are you?” She was a great role model for me and a mentor. I had the honour and privilege to be her sibling and knew her on a level different to her other siblings. We were normal siblings and fought at times, but Cathie never held a grudge. In my opinion she was an extremely brave lady who enriched our lives over the past 61 plus years.

Cathie spent her last days at Sentinel where the staff cared for her in a loving way that words alone will never truly capture. Clearly this is more than just a job to them.

In closing I know Cathie would want me to thank the Sentinel staff for their kindness and caring that was evident up until the end. Cathie left this life as she lived; she did things her way.

Just know Cathie was a very caring and compassionate person. She was loved and will be missed!