Monday 3 June 2024

The love of my life has passed away!

 Some folks reading my blog may wonder why I have not been as active posting things in this normally busy time of year. Life has taken some heart-rending directions these past few weeks especially. My dear wife and best friend for almost 48 years, Marie, has passed away, as of May 26.

Marie had been dealing with an increasing number of health issues over the past few years, which she was trying to get ahead of via naturopathic doctors, traditional doctors and her own research. However that all came to the unfortunate conclusion a week ago yesterday. Fortunately she was able to spend the final few days of her earthly life at the Four Counties Health Services hospital at Newbury, a small community about half way between Chatham and London.

The purpose of this post is to honour Marie, for the incredible person she was, and to share some highlights along her life's journey, primarily as my wife.

I have long thought that this next photo, when she was about two, was a perfect example of cute, and if a dictionary was wanting a photo to accompany that definition, this photo would be a prime candidate.

I met Marie when we were both attending the University of Guelph in the early 1970s, and we were married in October, 1976. In the years that followed, we enjoyed traveling around Canada and the USA, especially the west. We did not ignore the east, but since we both had many relatives in the west, that determined our direction for the most part. 

One of our first trips included some time at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Here is a photo of Marie coming down a trail, in her 'super woman' pose.

A few other trips early in our years included the following. The first one shows her walking along a quiet trail at Zion National Park, in Utah.

In Colorado, we came across Great Sand Dunes National Park. Sand and dunes had always been an interest for both of us, and to find this incredible place in the middle of the continent rather than along a coast, was fascinating. We usually made sure we stopped in and camped there on various trips, to enjoy this exceptionally intriguing natural area.
The sand dunes are impressive, with some of them reaching more than 700' above the floor. Here Marie pretends she is an exhausted traveler making her way along the lower dune area.
Nearby are the Sangre de Christos Mountains rising from the arid landscape.
Another fascinating area is Arches National Park, in Utah. The arches are an incredible display of nature in action, where wind and water has formed these arches over thousands of years. As you can see, using Marie as a scale model at the bottom, some of them are huge.
Delicate Arch

We traveled to 46 of the lower 48 states in the USA, and all of the Canadian provinces except for Newfoundland and Labrador, and of course took thousands of photos of those areas.

Life wasn't all about traveling beyond our home area, but we tried to get in as many trips as we could. But even around southern Ontario, and in particular Chatham-Kent, we got out and explored quite often. Rondeau was, of course, one of the regular places, partly because in some of the early years of our life together, we even lived in the park for 5 and a half years. The Tulip Tree Trail was a regular hiking spot....

...and Marie posed in tree-hugger style on one occasion.
Marie loved the beach and shoreline. Our home when living there, looked out over the grassy beach dunes and then out over Lake Erie. Sunrises were often exceptional, which we could enjoy from our bedroom window. Anytime Marie accompanied me to the park, we almost always included a bit of time walking along the beach.....
...even in winter.
And sometimes it would serve as a location just to lie down, rest and enjoy the gentle sounds of the surf.
On one occasion, at the Group Campground, one could stand in the middle of it and call out, and this Ruffed Grouse would emerge from the woods, and come right up. Ruffed Grouse are known for their autumn crazy flight at times, and this was an example of their strange (to us) behaviour.
St. Clair National Wildlife Area had a pleasant trail system, overlooking the ~240 ha of wetland.
And southern Ontario waterfalls were of interest as well. This first one is of Rock Glen falls, in northern Lambton Co.
Next is Marie at the Eau Claire Falls, between North Bay and Mattawa. She is on a rock photographing Kristin and I, who had our cameras pointed at the water tumbling down the falls.

This next one shows Marie near the base of Webster's Falls, in the greater Hamilton area.

On the home front, Marie was busy with various things, of course. Gardening was a priority, and she was always active tending various flowers or fruits and veggies.

This next one shows her surveying a bumper crop of crab apples, and wondering how best to tackle the numerous fruits!




 And there were times when she could just relax in the yard, reading and enjoying a snack of something or other.

Marie had an interest in some of the wildlife that occurred in our yard, and regularly reported to me seeing a butterfly so I could photograph it.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Tawny Emperor

 Beginning in the mid 1980s, kids were a significant addition to our family. Here Marie is watching a rugby game where our eldest, Tim, was playing, in the early 2000s.

We did some family camping, shown here in the mid 1990s, at Algonquin.

Marie and Kristin, Aug '07
A bit earlier, in Aug '06 while I was attending a North American Prairie Conference, we managed to travel around some other areas, such as this next photo showing Marie and Kristin overlooking an area at the Niobrara Wildlife Management area in Nebraska.
And in October '07, the three of us took a trip west, and here they are standing in the wet and blustery conditions at Yellowstone NP.

In retirement, Marie and I spent a month traveling to the southwest, with a focus on Arizona where we spent two weeks in the middle of the Sonoran Desert just south of Tuscon.

Saguaro National Park

Enjoying the cactus

On the trail at San Bernadino Nat'l Wildlife Refuge

Saguaro National Park sunset

On the return, we stopped at Great Sand Dunes NP again; it is always special.

Photographing the photographer

Photographing the water patterns

Back home, we also took on some butterfly surveys in some planted prairie sites.

Giant Swallowtail


There were still some trips, such as one to Grande Prairie and Edmonton, AB, to be present at a niece's wedding. We stopped at the Serpent River in northern Ontario on the return, a quiet river through the wooded and rocky landscape.

And her final trip, to the east coast with Kristin, where she spent a bit of time along a coastal beach.

Marie had been an incredible support to me in so many ways. She was kind, thoughtful, non-judgemental, loving, smart, considerate, practical, fun to be with etc., etc. She was a valuable editor for both of my books, Life on a Sandspit and Natural Treasures of Chatham-Kent, as well as to some of my blog posts.

So many memories to cherish! We love you and miss you, Marie!


  1. I just settled in after completing a swiftwatch count and read your post Alan. I am so very sorry for your loss, and sorry I never met Marie. Your words are beautiful and honour her memory.
    What a full life you shared together ❤️

  2. Dear Allen, Kristin, and Tim: I was saddened and shocked to hear
    of Marie's passing -- -gone too soon ! I know how dearly she will
    be missed by each of you ! I first met Marie many years ago at
    your family's farm. I believe it was before the children came along. Thank you for sharing the lovely Blog dedicated to her.
    The photos will be a Blessing to you in the years to come.
    Sincerely--Irene Woods

  3. A beautiful post about a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing. God's blessings to you.

  4. My condolences to you. Did not know your wife but she sounded very nice

  5. Dear Allen, Im sorry to about the loss of your dear wife. It looks like she had an amazing life with you at her side. There is so much to say but I will leave it with this - Im sending my deepest and sincere condolences to you and your family. May she rest in peace. - Dwayne

  6. Allen, thank you for sharing those truly wonderful excerpts of your lives together - it is a wonderful testament to you both as staunch individuals and your enduring love for one another and gives us a special insight into you both and your family as well. Our love and thoughts go to you at this difficult time, but also a time when you are celebrating a special life and to your family as well.

  7. Thank-you to all who commented and shared their thoughts on this post, as well as the many, many messages I got directly to my email. Marie was an amazing person, and it certainly was a privilege to be her husband for these many years. It has been quite a blur over the past few weeks. One day at a time, however. Again, thanks to all for your kind words, prayers and support in various ways.

  8. Allen, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Marie, sending my deepest condolences to you and your family

  9. A lovely post honouring a lovely person, Allen

  10. Hi Allen ,
    Sorry to hear of the passing of Marie . Just wanted to compliment you on putting together an amazing post with stories and photos of Marie throughout her life span .
    With Sympathy ,
    Richard Carr

  11. I am so sorry to hear about Marie’s passing. I enjoyed the times she and I spent together and think of them often. When she came to visit her mom we often had visits together. My condolences to you and the family.

  12. Again, my heartfelt thanks to so many readers of this blog, the comments provided here, as well as the many comments sent to me separately on my email, or via cards sent to me and my family. It greatly helps us through our grieving process!

  13. I am so sorry for your loss, Allen. Thinking of you and your family.

  14. Sincerest condolences Allen and family.