Animal lover, mother, grandmother, great-great-aunt. Born July 9, 1922, in Toronto; died April 12, 2013, in Toronto of complications from a fall, aged 90.
It was written in the stars that Edna Ward would be the object of men’s affection. A Toronto girl, she was one of three children born to George and Ada Bower, and their only daughter. Her older brothers, Raymond and Arthur, doted on her. She was the apple of her father’s eye. She had two adoring sons, two devoted grandsons and was the profound love of her late husband.
Edna’s lady-like ways made her magnetic. A beauty who would not be seen in public unless her hair was coiffed and nails freshly manicured, she was a brilliant dancer and believed proper manners were a must.
She met Comrie (Gerry) Ward at a dance in Port Perry, Ont., in 1944. She was a cottager and he a local Uxbridge farm boy. Because he was fairly capable on his feet, she agreed to a second date. Their marriage in 1946 was a case of city girl falling for country boy who moves her from a life of relative luxury to the farm.
She used to scoff at having to wash “turd” off hens’ eggs. Yet she delighted in learning to ride the tractor. What kept her happiest during their first 10 years of marriage on the farm was her passion for the dance school she ran in the Uxbridge Music Hall, teaching ballet, jazz and tap to students from 4 to 17 years old.
In 1956, they moved from Uxbridge to Toronto to start a family. Shortly thereafter Jeffrey was born, and six years later Greg followed when Edna was almost 40. She said the only regret she had was waiting too long to have her babies. But she was a pioneer for modern women. In the mid-fifties, most thirtysomething women had teenaged children. It was rare to see a woman of her vintage pushing a stroller. Today, it’s commonplace.
Tragedy struck in 1977 when her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 58 and, after a short battle, left her to continue as a single parent. Her heart never mended and she never kissed another man. Edna eventually found strength in her sons, her loyal friends and travels around the world. Her trip on the Concorde from Toronto to London was a highlight. Jeffrey took her around the world, with Egypt, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong among her favourite destinations. Then, in 1996, came an event that brought her the greatest joy – the arrival of her grandsons, twin boys.
Edna lived for 57 years in the same home, until the day she died. This spring, she slipped out of bed, causing considerable pain. Eight days later, she told her boys it was her turn to die. No nursing homes, no wheelchairs, no pity and certainly no regrets. Her sons were there when she took her last breath.
Just moments later, a nurse came to the front door and a gust of wind pulled the door wide open, stretching the hinges. Greg proclaimed, “There goes Mom, on her way to heaven.” She’s there now, dancing again with her beloved husband and smiling down upon us. That, too, is written in the stars.
Jeffrey Ward is Edna’s son.