Farewell to My Rosella

By Robin McCormick
West End Correspondent

My Rosella, my longest and oldest friend, passed away Monday, November 14, at 101 years old. She would have turned 102 of Dec 17. My chosen words “My Rosella” may sound a bit overpowering or possessive in today’s world, but that’s how my dear friend referred to everyone that she cared deeply for and she cared deeply for many people.

Whenever I would visit her, especially over the last 25 years, since I relocated to Devlin, she would always ask, “How’s my Robin?” and it felt good – really good. Of course I wasn’t the only one she inquired about. The conversation would also include, “How’s my Ralphy?” Rosella would always add a ‘y’ to the end of his name, and to many others she inquired about.

Our families grew up across the road from each other, and we spent time together, almost every day. Up to Rosella’s passing she spoke fondly of my Mom, and how they would talk on the phone every day.

And yes, just like a good old country song, us kids swam in the river on Rosella’s and Ab’s farm. We called it “the swimming hole” and we were there often in the summer.

My last visit with my Rosella at Rainycrest. So many memories to cherish, so many laughs, and words of wisdom from this special lady!

Life was good. Rosella was famous for her “whacky cake”, and I still have her “puff wheat” cake recipe which I will be pulling out as Christmas baking approaches.

Rosella had grown up in hard times, when food was sparse, so she had educated herself on “living off the land”. To this day when I see rose hips, I eat them as she taught me. “They are good for you and have a blood thickening agent,” she’d say. She was so ahead of her time, decorating her bathroom floor by dabbing thermal underwear in paint and blotting it on linoleum. I remember it being gold paint on turquoise flooring. Rosella was Martha Stewart before Martha was even cool!

Rosella saved scrapbooks for many, many years. She has clippings from the Fort Frances Times, dating back years. Rosella was truly on top of what was happening with people in the district.

That was Rosella’s most enduring quality – her genuine love for all people. And also, her positive attitude. I can truly say, over the past 25 years, when I would phone her, I would always be met by the most cheerful voice, saying, “It’s a beautiful day!” I could feel myself immediately being happier, and eager for the day, because of her. She would say, “Come for a visit Robin. Whenever is good for you. I know you’re busy.”

Rosella loved a good visit, as mentioned in her beautiful obituary. She enjoyed a good chin wag, and that’s definitely something I could help her with. Rosella had the gift of talking only the good things about people, and if ever a negative word came out of her mouth, she would add, “but they have good in them too.”

Rosella loved fashion, including pretty blouses, jewelry and bright lipstick. She would have her best blouse on, and be all “dolled up” when I visited. I would always make the effort to “doll up” when I visited because I could be sure she would be looking to see what I was wearing. I will always remember a beautiful red blouse and silver broach that made her look like a million dollars.

Her love was infectious. She loved her kids on the bus, calling them “her kids”. Adults throughout the district today that rode her bus still talk about her, and remember that if you were good on the bus, she would yodel.

Thankfully my granddaughter Makinnley and Emmiliou have had the privilege and treat to hear her yodel. But most importantly, they met the person who called me “my Robin”.

Rosella moved to Rainycrest in April and was immediately loved by all who knew and cared for her. As I visited I could see joy in staff’s faces, when entering her room. I was fortunate that the girls took a picture of the two of us together. Patti Labbe shared with me often, “She’s just a wonderful lady. And yes I did hear Rosella say, “My girls are so good to me, who work here.”

My last few visits with Rosella became more quiet, with less talking and more hand holding. She was always happy for a visit, but she was getting tired and with Rosella’s strong faith, she knew she had better things to come.

My life has been blessed by Rosella’s friendship. I have many memories to cherish and two phone messages on my answering machine to listen to when I need a reminder of her voice.

One thing I will never need a reminder of is her positive attitude, her sharp mind and the love that radiated from her.

The phone call from her loving daughter Velina, that Rosella had passed made me cry and made me sad, but most importantly made me feel so blessed to have had this friendship – truly my longest and oldest friendship – for over 66 years. Rest In Peace; you have made the world a better place, and you’ll always be “My Rosella”