I would like to thank the Hardy and Steven families for giving me the privilege to say a few words on behalf of my Mom. Annie (Ann) Rose was the only child born to Richard and Dorothy (nee Redman) Smith on January 14, 1944, in Shell River which was part of the RM of Roblin, Manitoba, where they worked the Redman family farm. Even though Mom was an only child, she was fortunate enough to have been raised with Albert and Doreen, her uncle and aunt, as they were only a couple years apart, they were more like brothers and sisters going to the same school and sharing chores on the farm. Mom used to tell us about the lack of entertainment and how you had to create your own, so when they were little, they used to steal the little piglets and dress them up in doll clothing. The trick was to get them away from their mom without the sow taking offense to these little kids stealing her babies! She would tell us of the many times Grandpa had to rescue her from an angry sow mom.
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Mom moved to Yorkton and was working in a bridal shop where she met then married Wayne Hardy in December of 1962 and they had 4 children with the oldest Carolyne (Carol) then me Catherine (Cathy). We were living in Atikokan Ontario and Mom was expecting baby #3. In 1966, a baby reveal party was a few years off but Carol and I were obsessed with the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue” and it’s a good thing that Mom liked the name Susanne because we were calling that baby Sue regardless. Wayne Jr was only 2 when we moved to Flin Flon in 1972.
I think anyone who knew Mom knew she had a “competitive spirit” and I can tell you she came by that honestly! My grandparents were masters at card playing so we all grew up playing Hearts, Canasta, Whist, and a host of others but the most cutthroat was Crib. We played endless games of Crib with Grandpa but when you were counting your points and if you happened to miss a 15/2 or a single for the suited Jack, the shark would come out and he laughed about stealing your missed points! He instilled a love of cards and in Mom and she to all of us but you always knew there would be no quarter given – like him, she always played to win and expected no less from her competitors challenging us all to be at our best because you knew she would be!
Mom worked at a few jobs before she completed her secretarial course and got on at the Royal Bank and subsequently the School Division from where she retired as the School Administrator at Ruth Betts. She always had fond memories of working with Dennis Ballard and Al Mills and anywhere she went, there were always Ruth Betts students saying Hello Mrs. Hardy! She loved being part of the school and witnessing the growth of Flin Flon’s youth and was always eager to learn what the alumni were doing and excited at their successes. Her commitment to this community did not end there as she was always active in some supportive group holding executive participation in Kinettes, Phantom Lake Golf Club, the Curling Club, and several Seniors Clubs. She was a crafting machine and was always making something whether it was needlepoint, crochet or knitting and was unable to restrain herself when it came to collecting wool or patterns for various projects. We all remember getting a picture and maybe a sleeve wrapped up under the Christmas tree because she would get so excited about the next project, that she always had a couple on the go at any one time. I can tell you it was not so funny at the time but we have had many laughs about that since. I know everyone from oldest to the youngest in our extended families were anxious to get our knitted socks – can’t even imagine how many pairs she made!
Mom and Dad’s lives took separate paths in 1992 and Earl became part of our extended family. Mom’s family grew as Earl has four daughters Teresa, Colleen, Lisa and Charlene and between them, they have 11 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. During visits, the kids would run through the door looking for Grandma knowing that she would always have a box of hidden Smarties and time to play with them.
Mom and Earl loved to spend time on his sisters Eileen and Fred farm, visiting with Orest and Polly, hitting every golf course along their path and the winters were centered around the Legion Meat Draws (winning I am sure), curling and bonspieling - waiting for the Scotties! We all knew you never called during Rotary Radio Bingo or whenever there was a curling game on!
Mom was famous for her Nuts & Bolts – a family favorite for sure and the debate was always Shreddies or Chex and with or without peanuts! She made awesome cinnamon buns, shrimp dip (ripple chips only), hamburger casserole, her homemade Chinese food of sweet and sour meatballs, Hawaiian pork and fried rice was better than anything we have had in a restaurant and special holiday meals of turkey, cabbage rolls and the absolute ultimate, perogies, is already a tradition shared and embraced with their great-grandchildren.
Mom was a dog lover and even converted you Earl with all those weekends looking after our pets. She was known to all the Hardy Grandkids as “Flinty Grandma” as she had a white poodle she named Flint of Batty – funny story is his name was supposed to be Flintabaty after our towns beloved namesake but when the legal register came back, they had confused the name. I would like share a few words from her granddaughter Leanna:
“Flinty Grandma, you had your quirks, along with quick witt and some pretty top-notch sarcasm, which was something I truly enjoyed about you! Oh and grandma how you loved to win, at everything and anything!! I gotta hand it to you – you did win quite a bit in everything from curling & golfing to cards, and everything in-between. Working at the hockey rink concession during high school, I saw you many of times over the years on weekends when there was a ladies curling bonspiel. Anytime I saw those bonspiels on the schedule I would be pretty pumped knowing I was going to watch you curl and have fries and a chat with you between games. At one bonspiel in particular, I saw you come off the ice and up to the concession counter with a pretty big grin and I asked you if your team won the game; without even quietening your voice you scrunched up your nose and said “oh, you sure bet I did”! And with a laugh you took off up to the lounge! In that moment, I thought to myself, okay, well I know where my competitiveness comes from.
She continued with we will forever cherish the fun memories and many laughs, and weekends spent sleeping over at your house when you would bake us mars bars, rice krispy squares and cook our favourite meal with macaroni, ground beef, and tomato soup. I hope that one day I am fortunate enough to have grandchildren of my own, and if so, I hope I mean to them what you mean to me. I hope that when they are at school and forget their glasses they phone me to show up and come to the rescue – and I will be there in a second just as you were. Now, I may not be showing up to the school in a yellow convertible, haha, but hey you never know! Love you Grandma, and can’t thank you enough for the memories.”
I know everyone has their own special memories but some of the happiest memories I have are the summers spent camping at Bakers Narrows (I remember being amazed the first time Mom cooked pizza over an open fire), Rummolie games looking for the Ace, King and Queen, Fishmass Celebrations at Pawistic, the Hardy Olympics and marathon nights playing canasta.
I can’t say enough about the support and great friends Mom and Earl have, and a very special thanks go to Donna and Bonnie you have been our lifeline, everyone at the Legion housing, and their medical and homecare support system that allowed Mom to remain at home. The Walmart shopping excursions, the trips to fix the computer, deliveries for wings or the poutine runs (double cheese double meat) made by everyone were a high point and she loved all of it.
Lisa added this memory "as tough as times got at the end, they stuck by each other and when Dad was finally allowed to see Ann in the hospital, she reached for his hand right away. He took her hand and they smiled and chuckled like two school kids... it really struck me then what they had meant to each other". Earl, our hearts are with you and each of us feel her loss in our own way.
The one thing I do know is this winter, I’ll be wearing a red touque in your honour. We’ll miss you Mom.