For the last year Karen Blackburn Chenier has been a rock for me, as both her Mother Doris Blackburn, and my Mother-in-law have shared the same horrible disease-Dementia. My mother-in-law was nowhere near what Doris was having to endure- but I cannot explain how hard is to accept this disease.
I sadly knew this day would come with Doris as her eating habits were declining. There was a sad inevitability about it all. When someone has dementia, as a caretaker, you have to prove to yourself that you can put your needs above your own emotions. Every time you see them, you grieve a little bit more, but you never, ever show it—and her daughter Karen Blackburn Chenier helped me understand this. Thank you Karen for all you have done for me otherwise I could never do this.
Doris and I had been friends for years. I met her first at St. James Anglican Church and then at Caldwell Elementary School when I volunteered there. To tell you the truth Doris Blackburn scared the crap out of me. She was a no nonsense lady, and you didn’t muck around with her-trust me. I was never known for fitting in anywhere in town, but Doris accepted me– and she laughed and rolled her eyes at me when she disapproved of what I wore– which was frequent. But Doris had a heart of gold, and she never failed to show it. She cared about her students and made sure they got a good education.
She told me one day that being a teacher was a privilege for her. Doris reminded me that parents were not only sending their children for a few hours a day to learn– that they were also entrusting their hearts to her. No matter how many things went on, or the daily pressures, she did not forget that her voice, insight, knowledge and respect for each child was not only important; it was necessary to give each child the best learning experience they could have.
Last night I sat with lots of Doris’s historical memories in my kitchen, and my stairwell, and then I sat down on the stairs and had a good cry. You don’t realize how much someone has done for our community, and how you are going to miss them, until they are gone. Every day that Doris was on earth was a blessing. Everything that her daughter Karen brought me to record is being done and then I will pass it on the museum. Doris will always live on in this community, I will make sure of that.
Doris Blackburn in front of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum
I have never been one for goodbyes. Never really saw the point. But someone having Dementia is different. Because of the disease we feel robbed of the ‘goodbye’ we somehow believed ourselves entitled to. In the end Doris had little quality of life, and regardless of whether or not we were ready, she died with the dignity she deserved. Her family and friends made sure of that.
When a loved one passes away, we feel we have lost something precious. We are left with a gaping hole in our heart, and we often wonder why they were taken away from us. But at the same time we can be grateful for the very fact that they were given to us in the first place. We were blessed to have such a beautiful soul like Doris Blackburn in our lives. In time all souls will be reunited. In the meantime, let us be thankful for the gift of each day we had with her.
One day I remember her shaking her head and saying, “Linda I swear they only made one of you!” You were probably right Doris, but I never changed and neither did you– we both stood our ground and tried to do our best. It takes a big heart to teach little minds, and today we all grieve because we lost you Doris, and your heart. I miss you already.
Doris Ethel Blackburn | 2018 | Obituary please click
Deirdre Gillespie and Doris Blackburn Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Awards program
Mindy Merkley One of the best teachers I ever had.
Donna Timmins Lovely pic,Karen! A dedicated teacher! Her students were so lucky to have her.
Beth Sweeney Lovely lady and great teacher
Bill Crawford One of my favourite teachers & a family friend…I had her two years in a row (grades 4 & 5 ) in two different schools. Say hi to her for me Karen.
Craig Wilson I had her for both grades 3 and 4…she taught me all about yellow rulers and cleaning chalkboards. I still give her credit for giving me sheer will and desire to make something of my life.
Wendy Healey I had her for a Grade 5/6 split and learned so much. Very memorable!
Allison Kirkpatrick A lovely lady, soft spoken and kind just like the rest of her family.
Christi Barry She had to deal with all four Barry kids!
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.