Optimist, devoted grandma, self-educated, volunteer. Born Feb. 21, 1921, in Edmonton; died Sept. 27, 2013, in Calgary, in her sleep, aged 92.
For most 68-year-old grandmothers, the scooter ride might have been a little much. But for Marguerite Beckloff, willing to try almost anything once, the chance to join her grandsons on a vacation adventure was too tempting to resist.
Never having previously ridden a motor scooter – or a bicycle for that matter – didn’t discourage her. An adventuresome spirit was one of her traits. So was optimism, which came in handy when she hit the ground a few metres into the short-lived trip. Daughter Suzanne remembers Marguerite’s laughter as she lay on the ground, thankfully uninjured but with another experience to remember.
Whether it was trying eel sushi for the first time at 92, or making Suzanne’s wedding dress from a difficult Vogue pattern, Marguerite was always up for a challenge.
When her seniors residence, located on the shore of Calgary’s Bow River, was given 30 minutes to evacuate last June because of flooding, she turned a potentially stressful situation into a special time with grandson Chris and his wife, Devin. While glued to the television coverage of the devastating flood, they prepared their favourite foods and enjoyed grandma’s signature Crown Royal cocktail.
Soon after Marguerite Bijou was born in Edmonton in 1921, her father left; her mother, Clara, moved frequently in search of a better life. When Marguerite was in Grade 7, she had drop out of school to work as a maid. Though she always strove to learn new things, and read the daily newspaper until the day she died, she always regretted her lack of formal education.
Through a co-worker, she met Ralph Beckloff, whom she married in 1941. Their loving union lasted 45 years until his death in 1986. The wartime years were good for the young couple, because Ralph was in the army, stationed as an instructor in Red Deer, Alta. They had a large circle of friends, who were a blessing in times of hardship, none more difficult than the six miscarriages she suffered up to 1948, when their only child was born. Not wanting to take any chances with Suzanne, born two months premature, Marguerite insisted everyone wear a surgical mask before meeting her daughter.
While Ralph forged a career in the furniture business, Marguerite focused on raising her daughter and doing volunteer work. She loved being active in her community, whether as a Brown Owl leader of a Brownie pack, a skating co-ordinator, publishing the newsletter for Edmonton’s Crestwood community, or later serving on the residents’ committee at her Calgary residence. She enjoyed being a part of things, but behind the scenes, in a quiet way.
A favourite activity was golf. Although she rarely hit a drive longer than 50 yards, she much better at putting, often scoring better on a hole than longer hitters.
But her real passion was her family, very small and very close. Her two grandsons were her joy. She enjoyed a special relationship with her son-in-law Vic and was, in a real way, a mother to him. They particularly enjoyed cooking together and at Christmas had a tradition of sharing a dessert of blue cheese, Christmas cake and port.
She is dearly missed, never more so than at the weekly family dinner, where Marguerite, ever the diplomat, would quietly make peace when the political discussions heated up. Her ashes will be scattered in her favourite vacation spot – Waterton Park in Alberta, where she treasured family holidays over the years.
Suzanne Cabel is Marguerite’s daughter; Patrick Cabel is her grandson.