Jenny Williams

''Our Jenny'' 25th November 1935 - 31st January 2005 ''Forever in our hearts''


Jenny Williams
1935 –2005

A Mother’s Walk

The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?" she asked. And the guide said: "Yes: The way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them and the young Mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."

Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew
weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children," A little
patience and we are there." So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you."

And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength."

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light." And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the Mother said, "This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God."

And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them."

And the children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."

A Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she's the smell of fresh laundry; she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every teardrop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you… Not time, not space...not even death!

Jenny McLean Williams

There is so much I can tell you about this woman, a daughter, sister, a friend, a wife, a mother, an aunt and a granny. But if you are here today then you already know what I would tell you, for Jenny touched many lives and we each have our memories of her that we will cherish.

Jessie McLean Williams was born on November 25th, 1935 in Dundee Scotland. Mum preferred to be called Jenny. Jenny was the second of 4 daughters born to Robert and Jemina Stevens. Mum had three sisters, the oldest Mina passed away here in Canada and her two younger sisters Jean and Betty remain living in Dundee.

Her dad was a shipbuilder at the Dundee docks and a Sergeant Major in the infamous Black Watch. I recall mum’s stories of her dad’s exploits in India and the tales of the monkey that he brought back to Dundee when she was a lass. Mum used to tell me that her dad was a bit of a swine and spent too long in the pubs. In the same breath she would remark how much I was like him. Mum’s subtle way of giving me a warning.

An avid swimmer, mum cherished the medal she won in a Dundee swim meet. Mum was a student of Stobswell School. Later she married dad when she was 20 on January 28th 1956. A year to the day later my sister Gail was born. They remained married for almost 50 years.

Mum used to tell us of the early days of her marriage living in a “single end” with an outside toilet, but she never complained. She always had a sense of gratitude. In fact mum never complained even through hard times. Mum was a working woman. Never afraid of a hard days work she would walk to her job at Timex and then walk back and make supper.

Even on days off or holidays mum would work hard. Some of my earliest memories of my mum are watching her in lush green rows or drials of raspberry bushes with a bucket tied to her waist picking berries. I used to get to help since I was wee enough to get the berries at the bottom. We would empty our wee buckets into our big bucket at the end of the row then get the farmer to weigh the big bucket. Mum wouldn’t let me pee in the bucket even after I pointed out that it would increase the weight and therefore the payout from the farmer. We used to make raspberry sandwiches and sip cups of tea from flasks.

Looking back our house was a loving home. Mum made sure of that. We never had much but we never wanted for anything. Both she and dad used to work long hours and any overtime going especially near the Christmas period. We have great memories camping at Pitlochery; trips to Butlins and Blackpool were favourite holidays.

Mum’s sister Mina and her husband Mick had emigrated to Canada and after mum and dad visited Canada on holiday in 1972 they came back with news that we were all going to live there.

In summer 1973 dad moved to Canada to work for a few months before we came and
find a place to live. In October mum, Gail and I came over to join him. We had a 4x4 box of belongings sent by boat.

In a strange country where everything was so too far to walk to, no bus service and temperatures were unheard of; our first winter in Canada was cold, bleak and very sad. The homesickness was horrific that winter but Mum continued to sacrifice for she believed that Canada had more to offer her children for the future.

It didn’t take mum long to find work and again she walked in the harsh cold. I was so proud of my mum getting her driver licence at 39.

Mum made friends wherever she went. Be it Longines Wittauer or Litton Systems. Testimony to this was all her friends from work over the years, and from decades ago who paid respect to her at the funeral home. Mum was a woman like that. She was genuine, open and honest. She was a true friend to those who knew her as such.

Mum had no heirs or graces and she asked nothing in return. She liked the simple things in life. She grew to love Canada and was especially fond of the east coast and the people from it. She talked fondly of her trips to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and the many friends she had from there.

Often in life we hear “if you need help just ask”. With mum you didn’t even need to ask. She just helped – it was what she did. During the visitation at mum’s viewing a gent approached me to offer his condolences. He told me about how he had met my mum. He had come down from the east coast seeking work and hadn’t found anything. Mum gave him a job building her & dad a new deck. Not stopping there, she went around all the neighbours convincing them to also get a deck built to help out this young man. At the funeral home Barry said to me, I’ll never forget her; she was the kindest woman I ever met.

Jenny was a proud Scot. She read many books about Scottish history and if you ever brought up the subject of the rightful throne to Scotland you could be assured of an entertaining afternoon.

Mum was a textbook Granny. She should’ve been a writer. I’ve never known anyone who could take a drab story and embellish it with the sort of excitement and slight exaggerations as mum could. She would tell the kids stories about when she was young and was always there whenever any of them needed a shoulder to cry on or just someone to share a kind word with. Actually mum was there for anyone who needed a shoulder to cry on. A cup of tea and a bowl of “granny’s soup” could fix anything in the world.

Mum had five grandkids Brian, Victoria, Chelsea, Ceilidh and Callon. She had a special relationship with each of them and she is missed terribly. Mum never forgot a birthday or an anniversary or other day that might be important to someone she loved. These things were equally important to her. Mum wanted her family to stay close and support one another. I recall a day last summer before she became ill where dad, Gail, mum and I found ourselves sitting in the garden reminiscing and just having a good laugh. Mum remarked that it was one of the best days of her life. Nothing fancy, just her family talking and laughing and loving. I guess the best things in life are free – mum knew this.

I never knew my mum to speak ill of anyone, perform anything in spite, to hold a grudge or carry resentment. Mum didn’t react, she responded with love. She was forgiving. We continue to learn from her.

Mum was a fighter. When she became ill it seemed so sudden but this woman had been carrying on life for many years in continual pain, never complaining or seeking sympathy. When she was transferred to Etobicoke Hospital she continued to fight. For months mum tried to overcome her ailments but to no avail.

Mum loved many things in life. Music, history, dancing, bowling but none more than her love of her family. She sacrificed so much for us. Right up to her last breath she was still thinking of us. When mum was told that the prognosis for getting out of the hospital was bleak and that the next few months could be agonizing she made the decision to spare us and asked us to let her go.

Did I mention courage? Right to the end mum continued to teach us the strengths that we need to get through life. She truly was a brave heart.

It is so unfortunate that we wait till someone passes to offer them the praise that they deserve. In my mum’s death I have learned so much more about her. The kind of woman she was, her acts of kindness and generosity, and how she was loved so much by others. Her unwavering love for family, her devotion and most of her courage and strength.

We are told that our time on this earth is but a brief moment in the great architect’s grand plan. That the best we can hope for is to enter this world and leave it a better place from whence we came. Jenny accomplished that, and the world is a better place because she was. Thanks mum.