Doris Anne Cooper (nee Magladry) was born on August 24, 1943, in Ottawa to parents Gordon and Ida. Mom’s first memories were of their move from her Grandfather’s farm at Bearbrook to the rambling brick house at North Russell. The farm consisted of 150 acres, the house with an attached summer kitchen and drive-shed, three barns, and a three bent garage. She was the third child in a family of 9; one boy followed by eight girls…the Magladry Girls.
Her childhood was that typical of any kid growing up on a dairy farm. She fondly recalled getting water for young cattle at the lower windmills, going to skate on Saturday nights, jumping into loose hay on the barn floor and one embarrassing incident of driving the tractor off the windrow because she was reading a comic book. She reveled in playing dress up in the loft or sneaking into the off-limit pig house.
There were traumatic times like losing sister Elva in the New Land and the day Elleda broke her arm sliding on Ross’ hill. She managed to convince the North Russell school teacher to allow her to start school a year early by walking to the end of the lane each day to show her how well she was progressing with her printing. Mom excelled in school, attending Russell Continuation School, earning high marks and awards for track and field. She became a member of 4-H and Junior Farmers.
A graduate at age 16, Mom headed to Ottawa to live in an apartment on O’Connor St. with friends Sheila, Betty and later, sister Lois. Although at one point she fleeted with the idea of becoming a stewardess she took a position in the Metropolitan Life Company. She was a proud member of their choir which made both television and radio broadcasts and produced a record.
Mom met Dad at a house party at her cousins’. There’s a rumour that Dad was struck by her red hair, great figure and sense of humour. She was a “looker” and a fine looking couple they made. They married on August 24, 1963 at the Anglican Church in Russell. Their first of countless “Cooper Construction” projects was the building of a home on Cooper Hill Road, North of Metcalfe. It was there that they raised a family.
She was welcomed into the Cooper and Morrison Clan with open arms. She embraced Dad’s interests as her own; music, cottaging, sport and the outdoors. She learned to play piano, watched every fastball and hockey game and took her Hunter’s Safety Course to join Dad and later Cory in the bush. Mom left the Met Life in 1970 when I was born and took on her role of stay-at-home Mom with fervour.She was a founding member of the Metcalfe RA working to rebuild the arena lost to fire.
She was an accomplished seamstress; her work including countless designs and repairs such as deer skin coat for Dad and a thousand pillow cases for Cooper Physio. Like her own Mom, her work was meticulous and needed to be right. She could re-upholster a couch, make a wedding cake, cut and perm hair, or shoot a groundhog out of the kitchen window. In 1975 we worked together to build an A-frame cottage on Centennial Lake. Two years later, despite being pregnant she continued to work like a trooper, fetching,
carrying and making meals.
In 1977 our family was completed with the birth of Cory whom she always referred to as her #1 SON. Life became busier, driving us to sports, joining daytime curling, volunteering as secretary of Metcalfe United and a Family Division Member of Metcalfe Fair. Despite all of these commitments her family always came first. She maintained traditions decorating for every season, designing Hallowe’en costumes and writing her annual Christmas letter. She took time to catch balls, go for walks and tucked us in every night with a bedtime story- even if she had read “The Fat Cat” a million times. She would be the first one up and the last one to bed making sure that we were all looked after. She taught both Cory
and I to use “good words”, dress well, be good cooks and the importance in the details.
She mentioned often how proud she was that we both chose professions in which we were helping others; as a firefighter and a physiotherapist. Once both Cory and I were established in school she decided to re-enter the work force. She joined McVey Insurance Service as a Client Service Rep, but soon aimed higher. She went to Night School at
Algonquin to earn her Registered Insurance Brokers’ License. Though she worried about meeting the 75% pass mark…she earned 97% on her licensing exam. She perhaps could have earned a pension if she had returned to work in Ottawa but wanted to be close to her kids and serve the people of Metcalfe.
For the next 20+ years, at both Hicks and McVey Insurance she set a high standard in customer care, going above and beyond the call of duty. Mom was a team player, a competitive athlete and a good curler; earning countless trophies and the sacred Broder cup 5 times. Fall was not fall without abandoning our homes for Metcalfe Fair week; yet she managed to get the guys organized for moose hunting, make the Friday soup and model like a pro in the Fashion Show for over 30 years.
After 35+ years north of Metcalfe, Mom and Dad moved to the 9th Line in 1998. Their dream property included a sugar bush and a bluehouse. Mom celebrated the addition of both of our spouses, Hugh and Amanda to our family; these new two new kids were loved as her own. She was invaluable to wedding planning. When we built Braeview next door and Amanda & Cory bought their house around the corner she thrilled in every project; be it siding, decks, landscaping or painting she was always ready with gloves and boots….the first to arrive and last to leave. She was everyone’s “go to person”… in fact only yesterday when two of Hugh’s cows jumped the pasture fence his first thought was to call Mom for help.
Perhaps her final role was her most treasured- that of Grandma C. She felt blessed to have her grandchildren nearby and visiting daily. When Kate, Ashlyn, Stuart, or Seamus were around, her face lit up like for no others and they would have her undivided attention. In fact, Dad said that the house could burn down and she wouldn’t notice. She diverted tantrums, took them to see Mr. Little’s cows, babysat at a moment’s notice, built dirt bikes out of cardboard boxes, stitched holes in knees and always had one of them in her arms talking or dancing.
She lived a full life: travelling in their fifth wheel, competing, creating, loving and helping others. She described herself as “verbose”. There wasn’t anyone that she was afraid to approach or talk to; whether lending a compassionate ear, making a newcomer feel at home or offering a cheery “Good Morning”. Mom’s short-lived retirement was full of music, trips, maple syrup, cottaging and most importantly time with friends and family. I believe she had no regrets.
Our world stopped last August long weekend when we heard the words, “You have a brain Tumour”. Mom showed minimal, subtle signs that there was anything wrong with her in the few weeks leading up to her visit to emergency at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Slight mix ups, apathy and headaches initially progressed to lethargy and episodes of “getting stuck”. A CT scan showed a tumour and she was diagnosed with a left frontal lobe glioblastoma multiforme tumour.
Amanda and I were told that the tumour was big, bad and ugly; measuring 7cm x 5cm x 3cm. Despite this horrific diagnosis one of her first comments lightened our mood by telling us all that when her sister Elva was diagnosed with cancer she lost her Favourite Breast. Pointing at her head she said….”This is my favourite Little Brain. Then she
seemed to accept.
Together we all moved forward through surgery, rehab, radiation, and chemo. As Stu said…”We were going to love her through it.” Three days after diagnosis Mom underwent a craniotomy and de-bulking of the tumour. When she awoke she had no use of her dominant right side, but quickly gained it back with constant exercise. She was discharged from hospital one week after surgery and shortly after began radiation treatments. We then moved on to monthly chemo; Temodal taken nightly for five days per month. Her December MRI showed that the treatments had shrunk the tumour 1cm in all directions; a better than average response to treatment. Although Mom was not quite the same, we were thrilled to have her with us and adjusted to the new “normal”.
We knew her prognosis, but were encouraged and did our best to continue to create memories. As her illness progressed she continued to teach us how to be a family, to grab each other’s hand, to roll up our sleeves and get to work…..’cause that’s what she would have done. In March we noticed that Mom didn’t bounce back from her chemo treatment.
She grew increasingly short of breath and experienced weak spells with falls. We returned to the General Hospital to learn that she had two pulmonary emboli and two dvts. She started daily blood thinner injections. At this point a hurry-up MRI was ordered. A week later we were back at emergency with a urinary tract infection and blood sugar issues. Her
medical care was becoming increasingly complex but we were able to care for her at home. The results from the MRI showed that the tumour had re-grown and that there was no further treatment options available to her. We were very fortunate to have a family physician who provided Palliative Care.
We prepared for end of life care with medications, increased nursing visits and round the clock family care. Mom’s mobility declined; from assisted walking, to exhaustion with transfers for toileting. We arranged for a equipment to ease her care (hospital bed, commode and wheelchair). The dining room was transformed into a care room…with chairs for visitors and her favourite music. In her final days she showed us how one could face death with grace….. surrounded by love. In those last hours she waited for her siblings to come, her friends to visit, the birds to hold court outside her window, one more Bluehouse Sunday night dinner, the full moon to shine, the trilliums to bloom and the farmers to start planting corn. At 3:43am on May 7th, 2012 Mom took a final, peaceful
A new season has begun; one in which we will hold her memory tight, know that she watches and guides us from above and will attempt every day to be the spouse, neighbour, aunt, friend, parent, athlete, volunteer, grandparent and sibling that she was!
We Love You Mom….Until we meet again.
May 10, 2012
Doris A. Cooper: Aug 24, 1943 – May 7, 2012