June 4, 1928 - August 28, 2017
We are so very sad to announce the passing of our beloved Aunt Hilda Mickelson (Henkel). Hilda passed away at the Parkview Place Personal Care Home in Winnipeg on August 28, 2017.
Hilda was born on June 4, 1928 in Ashern, Manitoba. She was one of 18 children born to John and Julia Henkel, who emigrated from Russia in 1909. Hilda was predeceased by all but three of her siblings, and leaves to mourn her much loved sisters Christine and Esther, along with her beloved brother, Herman (Deanna). Hilda also leaves to mourn her many nieces, grand-nieces, nephews, and grand-nephews.
Life was not easy growing up on the Henkel farm, with a lot of hard work done by everyone just to ensure the necessities of life. We heard stories of Hilda and her siblings picking endless amounts of rocks from the fields, riding on horseback to round up the cows for milking, and weeding the garden so that they could feed the pigs the weeds for supper. Those were also the days of making chewing gum from the sap of trees! Hilda and her siblings attended the one room schoolhouse, Beatty School. Her favourite poem that she learned in school was E. Pauline Johnson’s The Song my Paddle Sings.
Hilda left home at 18 years and went to Winnipeg to work at a variety of jobs including at the Health Sciences Centre and Fairfield Woolen Mills with her sister, Esther. In the early 1950s, Hilda joined many of her siblings, who had relocated to British Columbia. Hilda met her husband, Mike Mickelson, and they were married on November 23, 1966 in Vancouver. Hilda and Mike lived in a variety of places, where Mike practiced dentistry and Hilda assisted him. Following their time in Vancouver, Hilda and Mike lived in Norway House and Swan River and settled in Winnipeg. Sadly, Mike passed away just before their 11th wedding anniversary in 1977.
Hilda and her brother, Walter, shared a home after Mike’s passing. Hilda looked after Walter until his death in 1998.
Although Hilda was quite shy, she made friends wherever she went. Those who took the time to get to know her, found her to be an intelligent, warm, caring, witty, and exasperatingly stubborn lady! She would never call herself a feminist, but she was my role model in many ways for being a strong, independent woman with opinions.
Although Hilda had no children, she was very fond of her many nieces and nephews, as we were of her. She adored animals, and her last cat, Tiger, was very special to her. Hilda was such a feisty, independent woman, who was very determined until the very end not to be a burden on anyone. She loved puzzles, walking, and following current events, but one of her all-time favourite past times was the casino. Hilda would think nothing of taking the bus downtown to hang out at the Shark Club and gamble the afternoon away in her 80s!
Hilda was especially close to her niece, Mary Goodman, and Mary’s daughter, Diane Goodman. Diane faithfully visited Hilda every week during the last 15 months of her life and always made our “crazy old lady” laugh with her stories.
Hilda was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, and bravely went through radiation treatments. The oncologist said that she had six months, maybe a year at the most to live. Boy, did our tough old lady show them! However, the last year of Hilda’s life was not easy. She suffered a bad fall in spring 2016 and she had to relocate to a personal care home. Having to give up her apartment and losing her independence was not easy for our Aunt. The strength of character that she showed during this time and the last year was incredible. She never complained (well, ok, maybe she complained about the food a few times). She charmed the nurses and other residents at the care home in her understated way, and found a clique with her smoking buddies.
Diane and I want to thank the staff of Parkview Place Personal Care Home. In particular, Evie and Val, along with others, who went the extra mile in ensuring that Hilda was comfortable and cared for.
We love you, Auntie Hilda. We will miss you very much, but we know that it was time for you to go. As E. Pauline Jackson said:
By your mountains steep,
Or down where the prairie grasses sweep,
Now fold in slumber your laggard wings,
For soft is the song my paddle sings.
Tribute submitted by Hilda's niece, Dayna Van Caeyzeele
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