Wife, mother, grammy, doctor, chef, fierce competitor. Born June 5, 1946, in Canora, Sask., died Oct. 14, 2012, in Calgary of a prion disease, aged 66.
To say Cynthia was remarkable would be an understatement. To say she was exceptional would only begin to describe her life of success.
She was born Cynthia Anaka in Canora, Sask. Three years later, her family moved to Creighton, Sask. Cynthia and her older brother were close. They played mainly with his friends as Cynthia was a “tomboy,” earning the nickname Sam (short for Samson) for her strength, toughness and courage. Her favourite game was to hang on a broomstick while her dad swung her round in a circle, faster and faster. She would never let go.
Cynthia attended school in Creighton, and from the start was keen to excel at every subject. When adults asked, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” she would reply, “a doctor.” And a doctor she became, graduating from the University of Alberta medical school in 1970 at the age of 23.
That same year, she married Andy Farvolden, with whom she shared 42 wonderful years of marriage and three children.
As a young physician and mother, Cynthia managed her career and growing family with considerable skill and balance. She would get up early to go running, then prepare dinner before heading to the office. Her busy schedule was often thrown for a loop when she was called to deliver a baby, her favourite part of being a physician. Over the years, she delivered more than 400.
Cynthia was a fast-thinking and sharp-minded diagnostician. She was highly respected by specialists, who knew that if she had concerns about a patient’s condition they were well founded.
She was full of boundless energy and happiness. Her vitality was infectious, as was her wonderful laugh and sense of humour.
She was an accomplished cook, a skill she learned from her mom. She often spent Saturday mornings making six dozen buns and eight dozen cookies. Her children say they never had a store-bought cookie until they left for college.
Cynthia loved to entertain friends and gave legendary dinner parties where the food was outstanding and the theme was fun. She taught her children, her husband and many of their friends to master the kitchen. When she was not in the kitchen, she was on the ski hill or at the lake with her family.
Cynthia was competitive: She wanted to win the round of golf, swim across the lake or triumph at a game of Trivial Pursuit.
When her grandchildren came along, she spent hours playing with and nurturing them. She was there for the birth of each one, and there was no limit to the number of times she would crisscross North America to be with them.
Cynthia died at home with her family. A postmortem concluded the cause was prion disease, a condition found in one in a million people in Canada each year.
She accomplished much in her 66 years, leaving the world much better than she found it. She was an exceptionally gifted person who gave unselfishly to others for much of her life.
Andy Farvolden is Cynthia’s husband.