A remembrance for Lucia Ann Hunt by Rev. Diane Rollert, May 5, 2008
Ann was born Lucia Ann Gilbertson. When she married Hugh she joked that it was a marriage of convenience, since Hunt would be a much shorter name to spell. And so she became Ann Hunt.
Ann came from a long line of Lucia’s dating back more than 200 hundred years – all history that she carefully uncovered, researching and reading through family letters. Ann could trace her family history back not only through the long list of Lucias, but also back to a woman named Rebecca Nurse, well-known in US history for having been condemned at the Salem witch trials. Her family history was rich and that was important to Ann.
Ann was the youngest of four children, born and raised in Maryland. She was the towheaded little sister to brothers Lowell and Allen, and the rugrat who tagged after big sister Karen and Karen’s best friend Mary, who were both a lofty-nine years older.
There’s a beautiful black and white photo of Ann as a teen in a fanciful hat, laughing and turning as a cat sits on one of her shoulders, while another cat is leaping from her other shoulder.
The picture leaves no doubt that Ann always loved cats. In that image you can also see the girl who danced for her sister and her future brother-in-law. You can see the lovely young woman who left her college and university studies in Maryland to cross the border into Canada to complete her nursing degree at McGill.
There she found Hugh – and it was definitely Ann who found Hugh – and she loved him for life.
She married, she traveled, she worked as a nurse. She had two sons, Paul and then Daniel. She was a great mom, and that is what Paul and Daniel want you to know.
The words to the Crosby, Stills and Nash song Our House are what came to mind to Paul:
Our house is a very, very fine house
with two cats in the yard
life used to be so hard, now everything is lovely because of you.
Ann was a great mom who sang to her sons. She read to them, wrote loving, if embarrassing things about them, planned picnics, birthday parties and Halloween celebrations. In fact, she could celebrate anything at the drop of a hat.
She got active in a babysitting exchange and remained close to those friendships throughout her life.
She became active in dragonboating, those big boats with 20 paddlers and a drummer.
She became part of the first Breast Cancer Survivor dragonboat team here in Montreal, and inspired Paul and Daniel to become dragonboaters as well.
Ann always loved to travel and she took each of her sons on trips alone, Paul to Greece, Daniel to Vancouver, among other places. The whole family shared many trips together.
Paul and Daniel remember her studying, and this was something that Hugh truly admired about Ann. Going back to school was one of her greatest joys in life, and this she did several times: First taking a course in Family Life Education so that she could teach courses to new parents. Later she returned to school to study biology at Concordia.
She was proudly American, and although she arrived in Canada in 1980, she didn’t become a Canadian citizen until 2003. But she was very proud of that accomplishment.
Ann was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. She was a survivor, and had lived well through her remission, but the cancer came back in a rare recurrence in 2004. It was equally rare that she managed to survive her particular diagnosis as long and as well as she did. In those last four years of her life, she dedicated herself to treatment.
She wanted to last as long as she could to see her sons grow. And she was blessed to see them mature into independent young men. She was blessed to know the bittersweet pride that mothers often feel as their sons grow and venture out on their own. Proudly and wistfully, she let her sons go to pursue their passions, Daniel off to ride the rapids, and Paul to pursue his love of politics far away in Virginia.
I remember how pleased she was when she got to see Paul for an instant on TV during a caucus televised from the States.
Ann was a cherished sister, aunt and great-aunt as well, calling her sister every Saturday, encouraging her niece to study to become a nurse, giving books to her grandniece, and inspiring them all with her courage. As her niece recently wrote to Ann:
“I want to get a tattoo of the breast cancer pink ribbon so I’ll never forget such a brave person in my life.”
Ann was a dear friend, witnessed by all the friends who have stood by her in these hardest last months. Hugh wants everyone to know how grateful he and his entire family are for the loving support he they have received from so many people, from the many dear friends, the doctors and the nurses, the support staff, and this entire community.
The rides, the food, the calls, the cards, the visits, and all the caring Ann and they have received have been deeply appreciated.
A year ago, Ann wrote a list of 100 things that made her happy. These are just of some of the items on the list that Hugh asked me to highlight.
Things that I enjoy, that make me happy and glad:
My cat Sam sleeping with me
Feeding the squirrels off my back porch
Watching the cats attempt to catch the squirrels
Singing with my sister
Family stories and family history
Remembering things my father said
Seeing the birth of a baby
Daniel lanky and smart
Paul, smart and handsome
Dragon boat races
Going back to school
Those are things that Hugh highlighted, and I would add just a few others that especially struck me from the list:
The low light at dusk that hits the tops of the trees
Hugh looking at me with a fond expression
Just being alive
We all thought we had more time to plan for this day. But Ann slipped away, faster than anyone expected. She left this world with the greatest blessings there are, seeing her both her sons home safe, and surrounded by family and friends.