Daughter, sister, world traveller, poet. Born on May 11, 1980, in Toronto; died suddenly on Jan. 14, 2014, of undetermined causes, aged 33.
Amy arrived in unusual circumstances on Mother’s Day, 1980. Her dad, Bob, and I had spent the greater part of that day selling garishly decorated potted plants on a Toronto street corner, which explains how I ended up in hospital on Mother’s Day evening with blue and pink floral spray decorating my hands, and a few raised eyebrows from the delivery room staff.
Amy grew into a beautiful child with big blue eyes and golden curls, the kind of cherubic look that belied a determined nature and a convincing communicator. She adored her sister, Erin, who was 20 months older.
Amy and Erin were raised in Toronto, and our family often shared summer and winter holidays with other families on cottage and ski vacations. Amy especially loved cottages, and the family times at Inverhuron, Ont., were favourites. Later, her Dad remarried and a loved little sister, Katie, was born on Amy’s 15th birthday, to great delight. Winter vacations in Naples, Florida, were added to her growing list of favourite places.
When she was 6, Amy and Erin went with us to Expo 86 in Vancouver. This was the beginning of Amy’s love affair with Canada. Other trips to the Maritimes reinforced that feeling, and I especially remember one road trip to PEI when she and Erin read Anne of Green Gables aloud the whole way there. Later, they each attended universities in Quebec, Erin at Bishop’s and Amy at Concordia, studying social sciences. Her stepfather, Brad Jones, was thrilled to share his hometown of Montreal with her.
Amy was a quick learner. As she grew older, she became an information junkie and a Google guru, always searching for answers to supplement the learning that came from extensive reading and an inquisitive mind. No question was too trivial to research, and no answer was too small to be shared.
If you were lucky enough to have Amy at your dinner party, you could count on intelligent conversation and gales of laughter. If she were the host, you knew you were in for a treat, with a beautifully decorated table and fantastic food. She was very proud of her skills with the barbeque. She loved to plan social events and her 29th birthday “Amazing Race” through the streets of Toronto will never be forgotten. She began an online blog, Elegant Everyday Events, to share her decorating and food ideas.
Amy was an extrovert in every sense of the word, and thrived in the company of friends and family. She loved sharing holidays with relatives, especially her cousins. Christmas (her favourite holiday) always included a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit and thoughtfully chosen gifts, accompanied by one of her well-crafted poems.
Amy had an especially compassionate manner with older people, a skill honed in her relationship with her Grandma Sue who lived in Stratford, Ont., and from whom she inherited a love of live theatre, picnics in the park and travel.
The girls and I travelled to the United Kingdom and Ireland three times together, and Erin and Amy’s expeditions included Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. For a year, they lived in London; Erin taught, and Amy worked as an office manager. Their flat became a focal point for visitors and a steppingstone for them to explore Europe.
Amy’s friends meant the world to her. No week was complete without a visit over a bottle of wine and a few good stories. She stayed well connected with all her friends, even as their lives diverged with spouses, babies and careers. Her own career included working as an assistant to an accountant, a lawyer and an investment adviser.
Amy filled her life with learning, love and laughter. She left us far too early, and with broken hearts. Two trees have been planted in her memory in Stratford and Toronto parks by friends and family. They will provide beauty and comfort as they grow and spread, reminding us always of Amy’s unforgettable place in our lives.
Beth Jones is Amy’s mother.