Archive for the ‘Trish Williams’ Category

We never told our families, but Trish and I had three weddings. After proposing to each other, we jumped a broom. Then there was the civic wedding and our medieval wedding – or, rather, the marriage of Ullr Eriksunu and Morag Nic Fingon, to use our medieval names. Of the three, the medieval wedding is the one we enjoyed the most and spent the most money on.

The festivities were at Coyote Creek Campground in Surrey, in the height of the summer heat. We had worked for weeks beforehand to prepare, sewing new costumes for ourselves and planning bits of theater to enliven the proceedings.

Shortly after sunset, we started the event with the bride barter. As a Hebridean widow, Morag claimed the right to barter for herself. She sat in her high seat by the fire, surrounded by female attendants, while I marched up with my attendants to announce my attentions and my gifts.

I had gone to some effort to keep the gifts secrets while I was making some of them. But, on presenting them, I downplayed them in a mimicry of modesty designed to draw laughs. For her part, Morag examined the goblets and rabbit skin purse, checking their construction and passing them to her attendants, many of whom made risque remarks. The final gift was what swayed her: phials of saffron, a luxury spice of fabulous price in our medieval period.  After consulting with her attendants, Morag rose and formally handsealed the agreement, making it a formal contract.

Surrounded by torches (and more remarks), we moved in procession to where the local bard, Daffyd ap Moran (aka Gary Wadham) was waiting in his green Druidical robes. Although not a practicing pagan, Daffyd took his role seriously, fasting for a day before the ceremony. We had a literal handfasting, with our hands tied loosely together by a leather chord, and a ceremony that included us grasping a wooden ring while exchanging vows and copper bracelets made by our friend Jaqueline and drinking at the same time from a marble cup full of mead.

After the mead came the gifts from friends, and singing late into the night. Finally, we retired, with our attendants guarding the tent to prevent the otherwise inevitable chivaree.

Then, just as everyone was falling asleep, a muttering cry of, “Grendel, grendel, grendel,.grendel!” went through the camp. It was Bolverk of Momchilavich, the foremost women fighter of the local medievalists, playing the monster from Beowulf.

Our attendants refused to let us stir from the tent, but we were told that she had wrapped some old furs around her, and had trundled through the camp bent nearly double. She was met at the pavilion by her husband Sir Seamus, who was playing the role of hero. I suspect that the actual Beowulf never greeted his victory with, “I got the mother!” but the next morning there was a giant arm pinned to the pavilion to mark his victory.

The next day, we slept late, and oversaw the final cleanup of the site.. At home, we seemed to require endless trips from the parking garage to our apartment. Most of the boxes we left in the spare room for later storage.

“So that’s marrying done with,” I said as we collapsed on our bed.

“It had better be,” Trish said, and before we fell asleep, I remember thinking that the last twenty four hours were a good memory to have.

And they still are, although the pictures are grainy and damaged, and  we haven’t seen most of the people who  were there for years.

Read Full Post »

My partner Trish loved miniature roses. At one point, she had over forty plants on the balcony of our townhouse and on the courtyard outside. On weekends, she would spend several hours in the morning caring for them. Then, when we did errands in the afternoon, she would take the flowers, wrap them in moist paper towels if it happened to be a hot day, and distribute them to the staff of the stores and services we visited. If any were left over, we put them on display in vases about as high as my thumb, mostly around the computer.

They were very much her concern. I appreciated them as little points of symmetry and color, as well as for their names – Pinstripe, Pandemonium, Cartwheel, Carousel, and Black Jade – but had little to do with them except when buying one occasionally for her.

At one point, Trish had over forty plants. However, by the time she died, the numbers had dwindled to half a dozen, partly through normal attrition, but largely because her final illness kept us busy with more basic concerns.

By the time I had steeled myself to clean out the remains, they were down to four, two of which were not looking overly healthy. Never having been a gardener, I didn’t mind too much. I had more basic things on my mind, and I gave them minimal care only because I associated them with Trish.

But about a month ago, I bought some basil, which I use in spanakopita and lasagna. Somehow, the splash of green made the living room more home-like.

Inspired by that realization, I decided to bring the surviving Black Jade inside. Far from its former glory, it is now a sprig barely twelve centimeters long, clinging to the original root structure, and I thought it needed some shelter in order to survive the winter. Like the basil, it seemed to make my surroundings more comfortable.

Then, last week, I was walking through New Westminster when I saw a half dozen miniature roses on a rack outside a dollar store. One, I was sure, was a Black Jade. On impulse, I picked it up as well as two more.

At home, I put the white and peach flowered plants on the television cabinet, and the Black Jade on the tea tray that I use for a coffee table. They seemed to crowd the living room a bit, but, considering their effect, I decided they belonged there.

They’re not a shrine to Trish. Thirty months after her death, that would be desperate, and more than a little pathetic. But they are a memory of happy times, and they relax my eye as much as the art on the walls.

Read Full Post »

The text for my partner’s memorial service, held 23 July, 2010:

(A memorial service is supposed to be a serious occasion. And, of course, it is. However, in re­membering Trish’s life, it is impossible for me to omit her own quips. I hope that no one will be of­fended by my inclusion of these quips, and instead look at them as a reminder of her personality).

Patricia Louise McKinnon Williams was known by many names through her life, including Louie, Pat, and, in medieval recreationist circles, Morag Nic Fhingon. But she preferred to be known through most of her busy life as Trish. The last name she was less careful about, since nobody except strangers ever used it – and even most of them were calling her Trish after the first ten minutes.

Trish was the youngest of the six children of Francis and Doris McKinnon of Cloverdale in Surrey. The age gap between them was so wide that the eldest had left home before she was old enough for school. It was only in middle age that she got to know most of her sib­lings, although she was always close to her sister Marion Crook.

She attended the Cloverdale Catholic School and the Convent of the Sacred Heart, experiences that made her what she called a “recovering Catholic,” meaning one who no longer considered herself Catholic, but would fulminate against the misbehaviour of priests or the pope’s pro­clamations. Later, she attended school in Switzerland, where she ob­tained a knowledge of French that she later claimed was just good enough for her to read Asterix and Obelix books in the original.

Returning home, Trish studied drama at Douglas College, then trans­ferred to Simon Fraser University. At the drop-in center, she met David “Corky” Williams, whom she married in 1977.

A year later, Corky died of an epileptic seizure. A month after he died, Trish attended an SFU Medieval Club meeting, where we met and started dating. Afterwards, she would inevitably tell people that she had picked me up in a bar. Her mother tried to encourage her to find a law­yer or doctor to marry, but within months it was too late – we had already decided to marry.

Delaying only until Trish found work in the SFU Accounts Payable Department, we married on May 17, 1980. We honeymooned briefly at my parent’s cabin at Whistler, driving there in a car loaned by her brother Ron, and the journey was much delayed by us pulling over every five or ten miles to open another wedding present.

In our early life together, much of Trish’s interest was in various medieval groups and science fiction conventions, where we became friends with a number of writers. However, Trish – who was always proud of her charter Greenpeace membership card – soon found her political conscience awakening. Together, we served several years on the executive committee of the Burnaby North NDP, and for a nearly a dec­ade Trish was active in her union local, serving as Treasurer for several years, and for a month as Acting President.

Later, Trish was to become involved in countless other groups: The Coquitlam Needleart Guild, The New Westminster Historical Society, the Pacific Rose Society, and, of course, her anonymous Monday night stitchery group are only the ones that come immediately to mind. She also became known in local exotic bird circles, as we quickly established a reputation for people who could take on Nanday conures, one of the noisiest and most demanding of parrot species. Eventually, our living room housed four: Ningabuble, his mate Sophy, their sons Rambunctious and Jabberwock and, later – after Jabberwock died – a rescue bird called Beaudin.

Just about the time we were thinking of having children, our lives changed drastically when a routine gall bladder operation in 1995 resulted in Trish spending most of the summer going in and out of hospital. She continued getting sicker, and, in the next fifteen years, was in hospital at least twenty times. In 2000, she had to quit to work. However, it took another three years before she was diagnosed and obtained her pen­sion: She had carcinoid syndrome, a rare cancer-like condition untreatable by chemotherapy or radiation.

In the last five years, her healthy and activities declined steadily. Even so, she managed to assist her sister Margaret Pedersen with the care of their widowed mother, and (when travel became impossible), to be­come an avid collector of Northwest Coast art. Her medical support team, all of whom inevitably became personal friends, remember her for her determination and cheerfulness as her condition left her prematurely aged.

By 2010, Trish had survived so many illnesses and operations that we assumed she had years left to come. But she caught pneumonia at New Years, and five courses of antibiotics were not enough to cure it. In June, she spent three weeks in the hospital, and returned home on oxy­gen for a week. Her nephew David Crook and his family visited her twice at home, the first time worrying about her condition, and the second time reassured that she would pull through.

But two days later, her condition worsened, and I took her to hospital in the early hours of the morning. She died at 2:55PM, surrounded by me and her sisters Margaret and Marion, and her brother Ron.

Right up to the end, Trish kept her determination to fight and her good nature, reassuring those around her and making friends while in hospital. For thirty years, she was not only my spouse, but also my best friend and an example to me – and everyone else. I miss her more than I can say, and I am sure that I am not the only one. – Bruce Byfield

Read Full Post »