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Teresa Bendon.

Courtesy of family

Teresa Bendon: Astrologer. Teacher. Mother. Feminist. Born Oct. 13, 1919, in St. Georges, PEI; died Dec. 5, 2019, in Vancouver, of heart failure; aged 100.

To have known Teri Bendon was to be well acquainted with her personal mantra. Part affirmation, part explanation, part celebration and always exclaimed: “I’m a Leo!” described Teri to a T.

Born and raised on a farm in Prince Edward Island, Teresa MacKinnon began her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse. But the limited prospects available to a young woman in PEI at that time held little appeal and the bright lights of prewar Montreal beckoned.

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Extremely attractive, she soon secured a position as a hostess at the popular nightclub Mother Martin’s (where she became friends with a young Oscar Peterson) and there met Jack Bendon. Sparks flew. The Second World War intervened and, upon his return, they married in 1949. The union of a farm girl from PEI and an urbane city boy from Montreal made for some interesting adjustments – something like Lucy Maud Montgomery meets Mordecai Richler. Eventually, there was a parting of the ways. Teri didn’t speak French and felt that a move to Ontario would be a good idea after spending a whirlwind summer at Expo 67. She packed up her three teenage children and returned to teaching, spending the rest of her career teaching grade school in Stoney Creek, just outside Hamilton.

It was here that Teri fully embraced her inner Leo. Having spent the sixties raising Ena, Joan and John, the seventies saw her making up for lost time. Her interests were both esoteric (astrology, crystals, auras) and prescient (gym memberships, health food, vitamins). She was a one-woman example of counterculture, often to the loving bemusement of her offspring.

Retirement energized Teri, and she engaged in an extensive variety of pursuits, all the while finding time to happily chart the zodiacal courses of believers and non-believers alike. Her passions could at times get the better of her. Disappointed with the muted results of a self-administered aura test, she once asked her artistically inclined son-in-law to come up with something a little more colourful. The rainbow-like work he produced was the envy of her group. In the years to come, no one more than she enjoyed telling the story of how she “cheated” on her aura.

At the age of 88, Teri sold everything she couldn’t fit into her carry-on luggage and moved to Vancouver. “I hate the cold!” She spent her remaining years with her daughter Ena and her grandchildren, Faye and Aaron. She dated “younger men,” drank wine, conquered crossword puzzles and continued to provide detailed astrological prognostications for all and sundry.

The night my mother died I had a dream. My late brother appeared at our door accompanied by a lion. I related the dream to my husband who pointed out the obvious: The lion was Teri. A few hours later, we got the news she had passed. Being the designated agnostic in our family, I think she wanted to prove a point before she left. As she always said: “There are more things in heaven and Earth …”

Point taken Ma. It could be a daughter’s loving imagination, but I believe the constellation Leo has been shining a little brighter lately.

Joan Bendon is Teri’s daughter.

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To submit a Lives Lived: lives@globeandmail.com

Lives Lived celebrates the everyday, extraordinary, unheralded lives of Canadians who have recently passed. To learn how to share the story of a family member or friend, go to tgam.ca/livesguide

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