The Contributions

Anna Joleen McLean

d. 2003 at 6 months and 3 weeks

When I see this pretty yellow dress, I remember my first daughter, Anna, and how lovely she looked when she wore it…We knew that it was unlikely that she would ever be able to celebrate her first birthday so my husband and I decided to have a six month birthday for her...In this dress, Anna was no longer the sick little girl who lived in a hospital, but a fairy princess about to enjoy a little birthday party just for her.

Rhys Hobbs

d. 2004 prenatal

Even as you grew inside me, I felt your fierce and passionate spirit…When you died inside me my world collapsed. Thank you for coming to me again in a dream. Thank you for offering what comfort you could from that dream space…This blanket was used by your brother when he was born. It should have been yours...I'm doing my best to reach out in the world to share what I know and what I've learned and what we all share in some ways. And that is what you leave for us.

Jackson Chester David Cornelisse

d. 2006 at 1 1/2 days old

How I miss you my baby boy. Always will. Trying to be strong, to live on…Saving you in my heart keeps me warm, the way your blue hats would have kept you warm.

Angelica Ruby Milo

d. 2003 stillborn

Angelica Ruby's term of endearment would have been "Bunny."...I bought this onesie early in my pregnancy, secretly hoping for a girl…My heart was torn from my body, and when, like Demeter, I returned to the land of the living, I dealt with my grief the only way I knew how; I made art…So, it is time to pass forward this onesie, smelling of hope and sorrow but never of a child, to again make art.

This world, my world, has an immense void in it…oh, how my soul misses you…I close my eyes and deep in the stillness I can hear you speak, "Mama, a breath away I am, close in your heart I am…I remember, Mama, how you cradled me in your arms, snuggled me close next to your heart. Our fingers intertwined." I open my eyes and I remember your sweet little fingers.

We welcome this chance to highlight the bravery of children and families with whom we have shared this passage…These items are representative of care, compassion and our passion for the peaceful closure at the battle's end…They also represent to us the love of the community through the charitable donations that are tenderly knitted. These are often the last things a child wears before they die and are what they wear when we place them in their parents' arms for the last time... All of these pieces have significant meaning in the lives of the children at Sick Kids... The children who have lost a life here are never forgotten. The love that we have for them can be felt in the walls of the hospital and in the smiles of the staff... We felt that contributing mementos of our precious little ones would be an excellent way to honour their memory and brave battles.

We welcome this chance to highlight the bravery of children and families with whom we have shared this passage…These items are representative of care, compassion and our passion for the peaceful closure at the battle's end…They also represent to us the love of the community through the charitable donations that are tenderly knitted. These are often the last things a child wears before they die and are what they wear when we place them in their parents' arms for the last time... All of these pieces have significant meaning in the lives of the children at Sick Kids... The children who have lost a life here are never forgotten. The love that we have for them can be felt in the walls of the hospital and in the smiles of the staff... We felt that contributing mementos of our precious little ones would be an excellent way to honour their memory and brave battles.

We welcome this chance to highlight the bravery of children and families with whom we have shared this passage…These items are representative of care, compassion and our passion for the peaceful closure at the battle's end…They also represent to us the love of the community through the charitable donations that are tenderly knitted. These are often the last things a child wears before they die and are what they wear when we place them in their parents' arms for the last time...All of these pieces have significant meaning in the lives of the children at Sick Kids...The children who have lost a life here are never forgotten. The love that we have for them can be felt in the walls of the hospital and in the smiles of the staff...We felt that contributing mementos of our precious little ones would be an excellent way to honour their memory and brave battles.

Laura Haffey

d. 1984 at 6 years old

Laura's strong affection for her Smurf pyjamas was instant. As soon as she opened the present on her 5th birthday, the love affair began...Laura's Smurf pyjamas were faded and lopsided from all the love and attention they received…They became a metaphor for the way Laura lived her life. Her life was lived on her loving, trusting and somewhat unconventional terms.

Olivia Carley Barron

d. 2006 at 7 years old

Found a picture of you, Olivia, so gleeful with gift of this pink cotton top, your 6th birthday gift. Butterflies…Prance, prance like Little Pony, remembering you wearing this pink cotton top. Forever with me.

Brody James Prebble-Cooper

d. 2006 at 9 years old

Brody loved the water. That's where he felt most at home. He was a child who could make you laugh with his wonderful sense of humour…To know Brody was to know joy, love and life. To have these swimming shorts is to have the largest part of my boy, my son, my Brody.

Robert Justin Winchester

d. 1996 at 12 years old

When I see this little outfit, it brings longing. Longing to hold you, Robert, to receive one of your strong hugs, to pick you up in my arms and never let you go…Remember the Easter when you were five? How dinosaurs were so exciting and fun…I had this little summer outfit made for you that year. I chose the material myself knowing you would love it...The tears are flowing and my heart is breaking, yet again, as I remember you in the hospital bed, how you squeezed my hand and the one tear rolled from your eye, though everyone told me it was impossible in your state of coma. How perfect and beautiful you looked, at peace.

Gregory Haffey

d. 1987 at 13 years old

Greg wore these pants with a pride that resembled that of a soldier in a moment of glory. The beloved pants became worn and faded but never discarded as he faced and endured and lost his greatest battle, his fight with a ravenous disease that ultimately took his life...Greg, our gentle warrior, had the makings of a great soldier. He show courage in the face of adversity...He left us all with a legacy of hope.

Sabrina Anne Shannon

d. 2003 at 13 years old

Butterflies are free and Sabrina can fly. My beautiful Sabrina, I remember the day you bought your pretty blue butterfly t-shirt…It was your favourite shirt. You wore it with your faded jeans and your red, wavy hair falling gently over your shoulders. Humid memories in the fabric Pale T-shirt Dark Blue Butterfly ... Long to hold her close again Felt Sabrina's ribs through Humid memories, blue fabric "I love you."

Paula Joanne Normore

d. 2001 at 14 years old

This was our last vacation together…Paula asked if we could stop in Freeport, Maine. She wanted to buy an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt…She wore it so proudly when school opened that fall…I just wish she could have worn it so much more…You have so many dreams and plans for your child.

John Sidney Brown

d. 1934 at 14 years old

I hope that by using this sweater of my uncle's, you can set the grief free as it never has been done before. My Uncle John died in 1934 and so I never met him. Because of the way my family responded to his death, I knew only his name and a few particulars of how he died...Some fifty years later, it became my task to go through the family possessions and this is when I found his sweater and a photograph of him, a handmade plane and some hockey cards. He was a handsome, bright and kindly looking boy. I know he played badminton with my mother and sadly for me, this is all I know, and so there is a hole in the fabric of my life. I know a little of the kind of grief that cannot bear scrutiny or expression but there should be a better way to carry on.

Laura Peddle

d. 2001 at 14 1/2 years old

Oh Laura…You were our beautiful, clever and funny baby, the dazzling centre of our little family. Your father and I never imagined how little time would pass between our holding you as a newborn, and again as you took your final breath...Although we've carefully given away most of your things to the people who knew and loved you, your favourite clothes still hang in your closet...the lucky #10 jersey...We will never forget the look on your oncologist's face when you told him that you had just played in a soccer game before entering palliative care! Typical Laura...We embrace your spirit with our hearts.

Rebecca Lynne Hardy

d. 2006 at 14 1/2 years old

Rebecca was our first child. We were told on her fifth day of life that she would not likely make it through the night. And while she stayed with us for 14½ years, we had to grieve the loss of the "normal child" from the start…I picked this set of clothing because it is soft like her; she had the softest hands (though a mean pinch when she wanted to get her point across). We had this game: I would say "kisses for Rebecca" and she would extend her hand so I could kiss it...Having a child with a disability is hard and isolating. You lose friends because they can't deal with it...Once the person with the disability is gone you have a really hard time adjusting to "normal life," but it's not normal because you are mourning, and again you lose friends because they can't deal with your loss. Rebecca taught us and so many others so much. She was a bright light and she will be forever missed.

Heather C. Neatt

d. 2003 at 15 years old

This little cover up was purchased for Heather on our first trip to St. Lucia when she was thirteen years old. Her happy and carefree personality shone there. She got up and did the limbo with other guests, most of them adults, the first night of our stay...She said wearing this skirt made her feel "all grown up like the ladies." She loved anything with flames or rainbows on it.

Nicholas David Reed (Nick)

d. 2003 at 15 years old

I just finished ironing the t-shirt…I gave this to Nick on his 15th birthday…Nick loved cartoons…He had grown into an amazing artist…He left behind books and books of his artwork. These pictures and the stories behind them help us on our way through this grief...Nick's brother, Jordan, wore this t-shirt briefly and I told him of this project and what I wanted to do with it. He gave me his okay. It was also okay with my wife...Death has a way of making you realize what is really important in life. Family and friendships are more important than they were before.

Matthew Rodney Churchill

d. 2005 at 15 1/2 years old

Matthew, the meaning of your name is Gift of God and you were truly that to us…His beautiful smile made of sunshine, his heart of pure gold. His personality a rare gem to behold. Matthew filled our hearts with so much love and joy. He touched our lives, our darling boy.

Yael Koren

d. 2000 at 15 1/2 years old

I look at that t-shirt with the cartoon guy, funny grin on his face and gesturing with his outstretched arms saying, "Whatever," and I laugh each time I see it. I think of you saying the same thing many times, Yael, in response to different situations…I remember with pain, with happiness, with sadness, but above all, I remember, and Yael's melody plays in the background of my mind all the time.

Lisa Judith Spitzer

d. 1981 at 15 3/4 years old

Our Lisa Judith was bright, intelligent, full of life. She was on the way to becoming my friend. She confided as much or even more than a teenager confides in a mother…Lisa wore this outfit to the last Bar Mitzvah she attended before her surgery. She was so thrilled with the outfit; she looked so beautiful, with baby's breath intertwined in her hair...There is no such thing as closure - one doesn't heal from the death of a child. The only thing that happens is that as each day passes into a month and a month becomes a year, there is a softening of the wound.

Chad Mercer

d. 2005 at 17 years old

Chad loved the outdoors, ATVs, ski-doos and motorcycles. I'm sending an OC Chopper t-shirt that he used to wear. He loved West Coast Choppers shirts the best but I've given them to his friends. Now when I see these t-shirts I think of Chad immediately. He was such a great kid. I guess he was an angel sent to me, for only a short while. I love him and miss him so much.

Kristina Penney

d. 2006 at 17 years old

This beautiful sweater was a gift from a relative. It kept Kristina warm as a newborn when we went outside that cold winter in 1989. It is a precious memento of that special time and that memory I will cherish forever.

Justin Jared Jason Braun

d. 1989 at 17 years old

This hoodie holds such strong memories for me, partly because it is a symbol of the kind of man my son was. You see, this hoodie was mine. I accepted it as payment for teaching a dance class…As soon as Jason saw the hoodie, featuring the rival school's logo, he said, "I hope you're not planning to wear that mom!"...A few days later I arrived home to find Jason wearing it. Surprised, I asked, "Surely you didn't wear that to school, did you?" "Yes, I did...They threw me up against the lockers and called me names," he replied. I said, "Oh Jason, I guess you won't be doing that again." "Yes I will," he said. "Why not mom, it builds character!"

Alexander (Sasha) Kalaba

d. 2000 at 17 years old

I saved all of Sasha's clothes but whenever I think about him this shirt always stands out…When he died I went to the basement and I saw his clothes ready to be washed. I picked up the clothing and there was still his scent on them but he was gone. I wanted to keep this smell forever so I didn't wash them. In the first weeks, I prayed to God just to let me see him once more...I could sit all day and night in one room on the floor; I didn't need anything. I felt I was totally apart, my whole body was aching...The pain was unbearable...I went to Bereaved Families until I felt I could survive on my own. When I asked how you survive this kind of tragedy, someone would respond, "You can't get over this but you learn to live with it." This is the truth...Sasha is always present with us.

John-Micheal Martin

d. 2006 at 18 years old

There he was looking smashing in a red wool jacket, a sharp contrast to his dark black hair. "You look so handsome in that jacket? Where did you get it?" I asked. "I got it at the Goodwill Store." "Where will you be wearing it?" I said, baffled but so proud of my son's independence. "Oh, it's for my interpretation of Elton John on the piano. That's not all. I also got a bright canary yellow one!"...At John-Micheal's last competition, the emcee noted that we would hear of this young man in the music world in the near future...The red jacket, he wears it into eternity. He never had the chance to wear the yellow one.

Aaron Glenn Yantzi

d. 2006 at 18 years and 11 months years old

Aaron's smile would light up the room…He had the opportunity to travel 400km in Northern Ontario with his friends and family on a very memorable winter adventure doing what he loved to do best: enjoying the great outdoors on his sled. This jacket is one that he wore proudly when out sledding. The colours are vibrant, just as he was and will always remain in our hearts forever. We are honoured to have enjoyed and shared his love of life for almost 19 years...taken too soon...ride on Aaron...ride on!

Margaret Louise McWilliam

d. 1987 at 21 years old

Can I collect my loss in a neatly typed page? Can I bring my daughter back by washing and ironing and mailing away? I can't. Nonetheless, this project appeals to me. For close to twenty years, giving away my daughter's things has been a sort of ritual…Still, some things remain...There are the dresses she made herself...There is the pink dress she wore for her first job interview...I shall not dwell on the nightmare of horror that happened less than a year later. I shall hang on to the happiness of the day I associate with the pink dress as we drove to my mother's apartment to celebrate Margaret's first full-time job.

Bruce Mallory

d. 1990 at 21 years old

As he approached his high school years, my brother, Bruce, discovered a fascination and aptitude for chess…When he was invited to Philadelphia to participate in a prestigious tournament, his passion could not distract him from a focused resolve…For what felt like an eternity after we lost my brother, we were unable to escape the plight and pain of his last days. The path of our healing pressed onward and ever so gradually became less encumbered, as our memory of his wondrous spirit and joyful exuberance so graciously returned the smile to our faces.

Leah Ryan Eisenberg

d. 2006 at 21 years old

I chose these jeans from a basket of fifteen or so. I like that this pair is frayed; it tells me that Leah must have liked these too. She bought jeans like some people buy shoes…The bra and panties are my adult girl who liked lacy, pretty things…I bought this coat for Leah at The Gap. One of my favourite things to do was to shop together...After they'd taken Leah's body, I found a pair of her jeans on the bathroom floor. When my friend saw these she smiled and softly said, "They still have her shape to them."

Spencer Death

d. 2004 at 21 years old

I fell in love with Spencer the moment I knew he was growing inside me. After he was born, I didn't think I could love anyone more…Spencer prided himself with his fashion sense. This red shirt was one of his favourites...At times, I need to spend time with his scent, found on clothing and bedding that has not been washed since he left...Although there are still days where my grief is overwhelming, I am living a new life, knowing that I cannot ever own the life I had on the day before he left. My only solace is my profound awareness that Spencer died knowing how much I loved him.

Joshua Joseph Hughes

d. 1994 at 22 years old

I can't keep your possessions in that trunk anymore…Till this day, you are reflected in my mind as the most exciting, charming, charismatic, funny and clever person I ever knew…This sweatshirt is the one you wore that night. The one I gave you for Christmas that year. Your body was in it just hours before you left this earth. I slept with this sweatshirt for months after your death...I want you to know I am trying to say good-bye to you and find a safe place for our story...I carry you with me. We are attached.

Findlay Paterson Bergstra

d. 2006 at 23 years old

This sweatshirt was a gift from Findlay's friends, David and Allison, and one of his favourite items of clothing. As I write this, I am sitting in Findlay's room and thinking of all the memories, associations and attachments that being part of this project has aroused...My son's physical disabilities limited many of his activities. One of the things he could not do was his own laundry...As a consequence, his clothes continued to be as familiar to me as my own. After his death, I simply did his laundry, put away his clothes as I always had, and left them in their accustomed place...Letting go of this object, letting it become part of a renewal and a recreation, will perhaps help me to do the same.

Shanna (Shan) Larsen

d. 2005 at 24 years old

Shanna loved life. She lived each day to the fullest…It was difficult to decide what to send…something from her childhood…her youth…or something more recent to represent the sophistication she was developing in her choice of clothing to go out with friends, a special part of her few, precious years as a young adult. The pants represent this last choice...pants she would wear with a simple, but elegant top, enhanced with appropriate accessories, jewelry and shoes. Her friends would comment on how Shan could put things together and it would just work...look great on her. Friends were the sunshine of her life and Shan the sunshine of theirs. Goodbye sunshine.

Matthew William Boyer

d. 2004 at 25 years old

Matthew was a Métis youth who had huge dreams…He had applied and been accepted into the fire fighter/paramedic program at Seneca College…Since he was a little boy, he had wanted to be a fireman…Matthew truly felt that this was his calling. He would be able to help people, which is what he wanted to do...Just a few weeks from graduation, Matthew passed away. It isn't totally understood why his heart gave out, but it did...Soar with the Eagles, Matthew!

Leslie Elizabeth Bruce

d. 2006 at 26 years old

Leslie, I remember taking you to Camp Glenburn for the first time; you cried when I left because you didn't want to stay at summer camp. Two weeks later, when I arrived to take you home, you cried again; this time because you didn't want to leave camp and your new friends...For several summers you insisted on going to Camp Glenburn as a camper, then as a Counselor-in-Training, and working as a Junior and then as a Senior Counselor. You became Director of the Counselor-in-Training program and later the Environmental Director...You loved wearing this t-shirt. I'm glad I have it to hold. It reminds me of your activism. I remember you telling me that it was Camp Glenburn that ignited the spark within you...Like the shirt I am holding, you held true to your convictions throughout your life, living it to the fullest.

Gavin Carton

d. 1998 at 27 years old

Gavin always wore ties, from the age of one. In every school picture from kindergarten to university graduation he has a tie on. At work he was noted for his smile and his many, many ties…We talk about him daily and our grandchildren talk about Uncle Gavin, even though two of them never met him. We miss him dearly.

Sarah Elizabeth Giroux

d. 2006 at 27 years old

Like a ribbon, you held us all together, softly weaving through our lives. The photo of you wearing your blue turtleneck sweater, while hugging your books and wearing that big warm Sarah smile, is vivid for all of us. This is the piece of clothing that we'll think of you wearing and we wish to share with others. Yes, it was practical but it was also warm and stylish just like you.

Sheelagh Shea

d. 1982 at 27 years old

Sisterly duty Alone in room Closet emptying Fast discarding Stuffing bags … Panties pretty Unlike the sisters An unbroken trilogy Still together Often worn Reminders of a time Before wrist tracings Darkened memories Took your laughter Away from me

Andrew Thomas Elliott Ryall

d. 2006 at 28 years old

Andrew's shirt is a strong visceral, physical and symbolic reminder of our precious son. It is symbolic of his growth into the working world, taking on responsibility and earning a living. This shirt is from his first real job, which he held for five years until his death. Andrew loved his job. He was a courtesy clerk at Sobey's in Acton, ON, but we called him "buggy boy!"...I can still see his distinct gait, the result of cerebral palsy, a condition that made a physical job even more of a challenge...In their last ad for the year, Sobey's published this: "Andrew was truly an inspiration to us all. It has been our privilege to have been part of his life and we hope that Andrew knew what a profound impact he has had on all our lives."

Lori Ella Bursey

d. 2005 at 31 years old

Just nine days after giving birth, Lori suffered a devastating stroke in her sleep…I keep a picture of her close to my heart at all times in a pendant. Her son is only two but every time I see him, he opens the pendant, looks at me with his beautiful brown eyes and his adoring smile and says "mama," and then he kisses and hugs her picture.

David Cornfield

d. 2005 at 32 years old

Last night somewhere between darkness and dawn, I awoke with the overwhelming need to check my husband's pockets…In the left pocket of his favourite blue blazer was a card. The card was simple with a heart on the outside and no inscription inside…I know he wore this blazer on his birthday...the last day he could pretend that somehow he would make it through this terrible challenge...I am amazed as I receive his final gift to me...At the time that I needed it most, David found a way to once again show me his heart.

Donna Lee Zampieron (née Stahls)

d. 1999 at 33 years old

The pink outfit is from a skating show Donna participated in during her teens and is what brings back the most precious time of her short, but much loved, life...No matter how ill Donna was, she always seemed to find peace on the ice…A parent's biggest fear when a child is lost is that they will be forgotten, not by the parent but by other people. Normally you live on by your children's memories...Now Donna can only live on by us talking about her, remembering her, mentioning her...She did exist and still does to us and the people that loved her.

Lisa Bissett

d. 2007 at 37 years old

This is the skirt my sister, Lisa, wore for my 30th birthday celebration with family. I have very fond memories of that evening…I remember thinking she looked really great that night…Living without Lisa: It's still new and since she and I haven't lived in the same city in about twenty years, in some ways it doesn't feel very different. Except that it is...It feels weird to be two now instead of three Bissett kids...I'm the middle child, and at some level I guess I have this image of the three of us, with Todd on one side of me and Lisa on the other. I have this hard-to-describe feeling that something is not at my shoulder that should be. I don't actually look around to see what's missing, but it is almost like a physical feeling.

Philip Andrew Bean

d. 2007 at 40 years old

Philip, you were the world's biggest McDonald's fan and to prove it, you had a McKid's sweatshirt that you loved…The first sign of morning or evening chill and on went the white sweatshirt with the big golden arches…I was so used to hugging you while you wore it that in the weeks after you died, I wore it a lot because it felt like you...That sweatshirt was a part of you and I will miss it, but not nearly as much as I miss you.

Diana Mackereth

d. 1983 at 41 years old

Most people, when they think of the loved one they lost, remember all the times and life events they shared. Since I lost my mother when I was five, I tend to think more along the lines of what I've missed. I wish my mother could have held my hand and walked me to the first day of school...I wish my mother could have consoled me when I got that perm...I wish my mother could have traveled the world with me, even if it was through my photos...The thing is, this list will get longer and longer...I already wish she could be here to see the children I will one day have.

Edward T. Milbourne, Jr.

d. 1997 at 42 years old

Edward T. Milbourne, Jr. wore this shirt. Ed always loved the outdoors. Ed lived to fulfill his dream of owning a home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Another of Ed's dreams was to own a Harley Davidson motorcycle…Unfortunately, he died before this dream came true. He did own a Honda motorcycle (but it just wasn't the same as a Harley). He loved to go riding with his friends...Ed is loved and missed very much by everyone who knew him.

Cheryl Ann Barnes

d. 2004 at 43 years old

What comes to mind when I see my Mum's uniform shirt is strength. My Mum was full of it. Though a single mother of two, starting at a very young age, nothing kept her down…I saved this item because I wasn't really ready to let go of it until now. Giving it away now to a good cause where the world has the opportunity to see my Mum's strength through a piece of her clothing means the world to me. It is really hard living without my Mum. She was my #1 fan. She was my best friend and my world.

James S. Drew

d. 2001 at 43 years old

Dear Jim...Right after you died, I found the strength to cut up many of your old clothes...for print shop rags - I think it was a sort of catharsis...a way of dealing with my anger at your unexpected loss...I saved many of your good shirts...I am giving this olive-green striped shirt…because it definitely reminds me of you. I remember you wearing this shirt while sitting in your studio and reading, waiting for me to get ready to go out somewhere…I know you would think this is a cool thing to do.

Janice (Lander) Mainland

d. 1991 at 43 years old

My Mother wore this evening coat to a ball that she was invited to back in the late 1960s. At the time, she was going to the University of Waterloo…My Grandmother purchased the velvet fabric and got her seamstress in Bowmanville to start making the coat. She made it according to my Mother's size. Then my Grandmother sent the coat to Waterloo. My Mother would pin it where it wasn't fitting and mail it back...The postage must have cost a fortune, because they sent it back and forth quite a few times. Finally, it was a perfect fit!

Peter Masak

d. 2004 at 46 years old

My brother, Peter, wasn't the sort of guy who cared what he wore. In his spare time, he would most often be dressed in a wrinkled old t-shirt from a gliding competition and a pair of jeans covered in glue and paint from making winglets for gliders. But his big smile, twinkling eyes and generous heart eclipsed his sometimes shabby appearance...He was not interested in talking about himself. He was interested in you. That's why he didn't care what he wore. He didn't look at clothes. He looked at you and saw the beauty in your soul.

Nancy Diane Hoffman

d. 2006 at 50 years old

Nancy had a mastectomy at the tender age of 32 and was cancer free for fourteen years. It returned with a vengeance…She continued on like the brave little thing she was…cheering me up when I was sad because of what she was going through…Nancy left this scarf at our home the last time she and her husband stayed for a few days. I said, "Don't worry, honey, I'll bring it when we come to see you." Two of her sisters, her Dad and I would all be there on her birthday. She died the day before we arrived.

Sharon Beckford

d. 2007 at 50 years old

This skirt was worn by my mother the day the Lord called her home. My mother was an amazing person who was there for others, something I admired most about her. Not only was she an amazing person but an amazing mother. On the day she died, she was attending a funeral wearing this skirt and looking beautiful, as always. If I had known it was the last day I was going to see her I never would have let her go. Rest in peace, my beautiful mother. You are forever in my heart.

Nathan Gesser

d. 1978 at 53 years old

On the bus ride returning from your funeral and visit with our family, I awoke from a nap and saw you standing in the aisle smiling down at me. I remember you were wearing your brown shirt and brown pants…I thought of your apparition often, it was my anchor, as I struggled through my grieving period...You will always be remembered with love.

Linda (Lin) Ward

d. 2007 at 53 years old

My wife Lin wore this dress almost constantly the month leading up to her death. She had a very painful tumor protruding from her belly, so she liked to wear things that weren't too tight. The colour of this dress looked so pretty on her...Such a soft, restful shade of blue. Lin died peacefully...wearing this dress...She gave me the gift of allowing me to care for her and just be with her through her dying process. Daily I rubbed her back. I will never forget the smell of that lovely gardenia cream and the soft, loose feel of her skin...My last memories of her are of birds singing quietly out the window, the smell of gardenia, and blue.

Elyse Ann Schultz

d. 2007 at 54 years old

The best reminder I have of Elyse wearing this blouse is at a "slow food" celebration at a nearby organic farm…As always, she looked as vibrant and radiant as the clothes she wore. My wife had great taste for the best things in life. The blouse is blue and so am I...After over 30 years of marriage, you are a team that works together...Ouch, my team has a huge gap in it and it's almost like we have to cancel the game. But we won't...We'll honour her every way we can.

Bob Cochrane

d. 2002 at 54 years old

This jacket was a fixture in Bob's wardrobe. I can picture him wearing it while raking leaves on a cool fall day or taking our son, Ben, for a walk in his carriage. When Bob started having problems with mobility…he required clothing that was easier to maneuver in...The jacket remained in the closet, a reminder of easier times...It is now time to part with Bob's Queen's jacket. I am glad that it will take on a new life.

Terry Walker

d. 2002 at 54 years old

My Aunt Terry was the original second hand shopper…She would take my mom, my sisters and me on Saturday morning excursions to the original clothing recyclers in the 1970s and 80s…After she died, my sisters and I helped my mother to go through Aunt Ter's apartment. I remember walking into her closets, burrowing into her clothes, surrounding myself with her scent, and the many colours and textures of her life...These flowing polka-dotted shorts remind me of Aunt Ter's flair for fashion, the beauty that she contributed to the world around her and the many ways that she has influenced my life.

James John Rose

d. 1993 at 55 years old

As I smell your parka, there are many hints of you that linger, Dad, after fourteen years. Holding your parka close, I smell the coffee that you drank, the bacon that you loved to eat, the cigarettes that you smoked, and the ever sweet cologne that went on every dawn. The smell takes me into your arms and into the comforts of deep love. As I touch your parka I feel your pain, the constrictions preventing your warm heart from an expanded life. I recall your dreams...I remember your hope and endurance. As I touch your parka I touch what is possible in my own life; I hold fast to my dreams and even tighter to hope.

Christina Sabat

d. 1998 at 56 years old

I remember my mother wearing this scarf with her black winter coat. She would tie the scarf in one fold, flattening it forward, then stretching it sideways, a technique which maximized its visibility. The scarf looked beautiful around my mother's neck. It radiated the same vitality, brightness and originality that was my mother.

Marie-Claire Gravier-Euvrard

d. 2004 at 57 years old

My lovely and sweet MC, since your sudden departure not a day has gone by when I don't think of your wonderful smile and your soothing voice…I sometimes wish I could go back in time and change the course of things by giving birth sooner so your wish of being a grandmother could have been fulfilled...Even though you cannot physically be here, I will try my best to convey all the wonderful things you would have bestowed upon your adoring granddaughter. Your spirit will live on forevermore.

Donny Glasser

d. 2005 at 57 years old

Dear Donny...I remember how you used to love wearing your blue jeans…Two years have passed…I hold your jeans close to me and can still smell your scent and am still able to see you wearing them. I often wear your sweaters and feel your strength…I have a garden of beautiful memories, sprayed with a million tears.

Frank Bussey

d. 2006 at 59 years old

Frank and I were married for 35 years and during our time together we did a tremendous amount of walking. So it seems appropriate that I send you something he wore on his feet (and that I've worn on my own feet since he died)…They carry many memories for me…like the Toronto Film Festival...For at least a dozen years we bought daytime passes and each picked our own movies. Over dinner we talked about what we'd seen that day. I bought these socks for Frank while browsing through a store between movies.

To our one and only Peggy, Margeurite, Mommy, Gran…Maggie, your namesake, loves this shirt, in particular. She has insisted that the safety pin you placed on it remain there over these last fourteen years since you left us. Your loss came at a time when Maggie was also losing the home life she had known to pursue her dream of dancing...For her, this shirt has been a way of holding on to you and to that part of her childhood...I have to be honest though. Looking at this shirt causes me some pain...I can see you unhappy and ill in it and I do so wish I could have made things better but...It is time to give it away. It is time to think about how much joy you had...How you saw happiness in such little things.

Leah Cohen

d. 2007 at 62 years old

What could possibly represent my mama's sense of humour, her loyalty, her dedication to social justice, and her love for my father and me? In the end, I've settled on her so-called "biker jacket." Initially, the jacket was intended for me. I not only rejected it, I scoffed at it...My mother declared that if I didn't like it, well then she would wear it, and wear it with pizzazz!...I never told her how cool I thought it was that she wore the jacket...I only wish I could do so now. Instead, this biker jacket shall stand as a testament to my love and respect for my mother, the fabulous and oh-so-stylish Leah Cohen.

Lucia Iacono

d. 2007 at 63 years old

This is the dress you were wearing when you went from being my boyfriend's mom to becoming my mother-in-law. I remember you looking so beautiful and elegant. I always remember my mom saying "Being a mother-in-law is a very hard job, you are either too involved or not involved enough. It's a job you always lose at, so always be nice to your mother-in-law." Being nice to you was never a job I had to work at. I lucked out in that department...I look at this dress and I am so glad that you came into my life.

Eppo and Frieda Boelman

d. 1996 at age 64 (Frieda) and age 72 (Eppo) years old

When I think of my mom and dad, I think of the unconditional love they would give us. Their souls were very innocent. Whatever they did, they did with a full heart. They knew to live within themselves, and to make that a happy place.

Terry Donaldson

d. 2007 at 64 years old

This shirt belonged to my dear husband, Terry, who was diagnosed with ALS…Together we tried to find joy in every day, whether it was a sunset, great cup of coffee or a visit from friends and family. He never forgot to thank me for my care or tell me how much he loved me.

George Scott

d. 2007 at 67 years old

Dear George...I'm looking at the sweatshirt your kindergarten children gave you when you retired as principal. It was the only article of clothing I didn't give away…I know how much you enjoyed wearing it - a reminder of your many years working with children. This piece of clothing is such an appropriate memorial for you.

A. Jean (Stagnolia) Pierce

d. 2005 at 67 years old

The first prism I glimpsed of your nature came in giggles that echo in the depths of my memory…Thank you Mom…You Danced. And sang with the radio. While we sang with Dad. And you would recall those times in the mountains In between As the World Turned…

Earl C. Allaway

d. 1998 at 69 years old

This is about the man that wore the championship Blue Jays t-shirt. Earl was a widower and father of two when he came into my life and stayed. Remarkable! Why, you ask - I was the single mother of five…How many men would have the capacity to raise two of his own children and take on the job of raising five more...We were together for 18 years when he passed away. We can't feel saddened over the loss of those we love without first remembering the joy of loving them. The real sadness would have been never having had them in our lives at all.

Jack Campbell

d. 2002 at 69 years old

As you can see, this shirt is old and worn. That is because for quite a number of years, my husband, Jack, wore it when working around our home…Jack would hang this shirt in our pantry. It was hanging there the day he suddenly passed away with a massive heart attack and has been hanging there until now. It was difficult for me to part with this shirt as it has been a daily reminder that for over 51 years I was happily married to the man whom I grew up with in Toronto...I tell myself that I am not parting with this shirt but sharing my memories of Jack with others.

Robert Rourke

d. 1999 at 70 years old

Dad wasn't a big man and in his last years, he seemed to shrink more. With having Alzheimer's, routine was important, and he wore this jacket every day, all day long...I will always imagine him wearing it and when we meet again in spirit, I hope he is wearing it still, although the actual precious fabric is incorporated into this lovely memorial...I kept a button!

Mary Jeanne Taylor (née Steart)

d. 1992 at 71 years old

My mother was very skilled at needlework - embroidery, knitting, dressmaking…This needlework picture is dated 1942, when mother was 21 or 22. It was done in the middle of the war in England…During war years people planted victory gardens, growing their own vegetables to free more food supplies for the war effort. Mother's picture, "Dig for Victory," is a humorous view of two women working in their garden. When you look at the picture closely, you see an amazing amount of detail - done with just a needle and thread.

Angela Kokolakis

d. 2007 at 73 years old

The day before her surgery, my mother was in her garden from morning 'til early evening. It was like she knew that she would not see her garden again. She spent her last full day on this earth doing what she loved to do best and what gave her so much joy and tranquility...This is the shirt she often wore gardening. I found it in her bedroom on a chair, just as she had placed it after her last happy day of gardening. I share this shirt in memory of my wonderful mother, who gave so much to me as a daughter and to everyone and everything around her.

Albert “Cecil” MacDougall

d. 2006 at 73 years old

I remember the day you told me you had purchased a race horse. You were 50 years old and I was amazed that you were taking up this new direction at an age when most people would be thinking about slowing down…I remember getting the phone call that something had happened and guessing that it had to do with the horses. I could not believe you were gone...I remember going through your clothing...Your driving suit represents the part of you that was always bigger than life to me. Your driving suit must continue on in some way.

Earl D. Smith

d. 2007 at 75 years old

What was important was having the kind of birthday my father wanted. So we had the small get together with our immediate family…I look at this beautiful pink shirt he wore and know it served as a reminder of the kind of man he was. This shirt, like his smile, showed his joy...He wanted to be a beacon that was an example of God's love.

Marjorie De Silva

d. 2005 at 76 years old

This galabia belonged to our Mother, Marjorie, and represents her elegant style. She was a kind, warm and generous woman…Her presence influenced all our lives greatly.

Professor G. Ralph Albert

d. 2005 at 76 years old

Just two months before his death, Professor Albert was declared an Artist. His work…and his biography are displayed to this day along the Artist Walk at Sunnybrook Veterans facility. On that day…he wore his favourite fleece sweater…My husband comes to me in my dreams...I know he is with me when I hear the words "Hello My Love."

Olga De Simone

d. 2004 at 78 years old

My mother was only 18 in 1943 when she designed, sewed, and embroidered five nightdresses that would become the first pieces in her hope chest…She could have become so many things. But she chose to become a wife and mother, a seamstress, an immigrant, an embroider of lives...She was a lover of poetry and song and beauty and, in my eyes, that essence is captured in this handmade garment of her youth.

I am sharing the crazy quilt you made me from leftover scraps of my and your dresses, blouses, skirts and pants, which you sewed…The pale blue metallic pieces are my surprise grade 12 graduation dress…the bright green scraps are my bell bottom pants…I see your long remembered house dresses in the flowered cotton scraps...Store bought clothes, like store bought cookies, just weren't the same as homemade ones...Thank you for always loving me and for still being in my memories so I can always talk to you.

Harry Stimson

d. 1996 at 78 years old

My family have contributed the navy blue Legion jacket - a cherished item for my dad, Harry Stimson. He was a simple man with simple pleasures. He was a dedicated member of Branch 22 of the Royal Canadian Legion. Many evenings were spent there with his friends, playing cards and snooker. Harry served in the Royal Canadian Air Force...He is sadly missed.

Katherine (Lix) Lynch

d. 2007 at 79 years old

My mother's was the life of a first generation Canadian, born to immigrant parents on the eve of the Depression…Here is the coat, bright red and merry, that she chose for herself…Her mother once told her you must always have a dark coat: "What if someone died?" But she defied her mother and chose only because she wanted and liked it - something special, frivolous, just for her...Robust and vibrant, almost to the end. This coat is all of that to me, it reflects her spirit...These fibres reflect for me the memory of one who encircled my life. She lives inside of me, integral to my bones. She was my mother.

Frank Masak

d. 1999 at 79 years old

My father was many things - a WW2 survivor, a husband, a father to three children, an engineer, a pilot, an athlete, an accomplished cook, a gardener, a builder - but a natty dresser he was not. He really took little interest in clothes or what people looked like. He cared more about what was on the inside. He once lectured me about selecting boyfriends and gave an example of a friend who had married "a homely woman with a good heart." ...At his memorial service, my mother said, "If you can measure the wealth of a man by the love that he left behind, then Frank was a very wealthy man."

David Novick

d. 1989 at 80 years old

My father, in summertime, wore this undershirt…After his death, I wore it as a camisole. He was my last close relative, the last relative who genuinely loved me…When I wore this undershirt I felt a closeness, a connectedness...This undershirt is worn, threadbare and much loved. In giving it to you, I am giving you something of me...I start fresh. I am joyful, ecstatic, excited about new beginnings...I feel "zaftig" (abundant in Yiddish)...Unlike the undershirt, I am not worn, threadbare. However, like the undershirt, in loving, I have become much loved.

Dr. Harry Wilcke III

d. 2007 at 81 years old

My father's death leaves a large empty place...He was always there. Now he is not. It is a hard adjustment…He told us the afternoon of his death that he was leaving us soon…The hat was one he wore the last few years of his life. He wore it when we worked together on the last project - a large shelving unit for the storage of my framed work. He wore it on the last outing we took to the Peace Gardens on the border between the USA and Manitoba. He wore it whenever he went out in the sun.

Earl and Mary Redmond

d. Earl (age 79) and Mary (age 82) years old

The caressing waves of time can soften the sharpest edges of grief and transform it into treasured memories. Thank you Mom and Dad for all the love and memories. Loves it! Loves it! Loves it!

Beulah (Arseneau) Barrett

d. 2007 at 83 years old

This is the story of two women who were friends for 65 years, and a red suit - only one of the many things these women shared…Beulah had a two-piece suit, a tailored jacket and knee length skirt. Marty loved it. "I think she thought I liked it so much that she gave it to me. And I kept it for years." When asked what happened to the red suit, Marty replies, "I guess I wore it out." The red suit may have worn out but the friendship never did. Beulah was "the sweetest, nicest person I ever met...I'll always think of her and miss her."

Betty Cosby Stevens

d. 2007 at 83 years old

It smells of your perfume…As I sit here now, I can recall so many times when you were wearing this shirt as we visited - out on the screened porch looking at the lake, you with a glass of your favourite red in your hand, the sun setting across the water, the water causing our laughter to bounce back on us so that it seemed everything around was laughing, rejoicing. How I loved you then and how good it felt to be wrapped in your sisterly love for me...I still love you, Betty, and truly believe that your unconditional love continues to surround me even as I grieve the loss of your physical presence. Until we meet again...

Gerald Vernon Dryden

d. 2007 at 83 years old

These grey corduroy pants were Dad's favourite pair, worn and comfortable, really an extension of his genuine and relaxed nature. The red golf shirt has special meaning for me as it was the shirt I helped him to put on the afternoon we brought him to hospital. In my mind's eye, I see my lovely Dad being held gently by my husband as I slipped this shirt over his head....It was the last piece of clothing of his own he ever wore. The final piece is a raggedy old hoodie...It still smells like his pipe and you can see the burns on the sleeves from when the wind took the ashes from the pipe pot and scattered them about. My father loved to sit outside and smoke his pipe. It was in returning inside that he slipped and fell, starting in motion the events that led to his death...Dad lived a life without judgment, without prejudice, seeking to do right by another and ultimately touching the lives of many...These are the gifts that were Dad's and they live on for us who remember.

Hili Lindberg

d. 2005 at 84 years old

My mother loved colourful silk scarves and collected them. She thought of herself as an extremely practical person and mostly she was…This is a way for me to honour her pleasure in things that are not strictly necessary or practical. Life should be about more than survival.

Thelma Kelly

d. 1997 at in her 80's years old

This scarf of my grandma's came to me at Christmas 2007, a decade after her death...I always think of my Grandma Kelly in purple or pink, the colours of this scarf. Not anything frilly or lacey or even flowery, just blushing colour. In one of my favourite later-life photos of her, she is in pink from head to toe, sitting outdoors in a wheelchair with flowers across her lap.

Phil Thomas

d. 2007 at 85 years old

My memories of my friend Phil date back to when I was probably six or seven, at my family's Christmas party…He was curious about everything and everyone…At Phil's Celebration of Life, a silent auction was held to help raise funds for a memorial bench...I bought his collection of caps. Phil designed and sewed them all himself, to wear when he visited the UBC Library, which was air conditioned. Phil's head was decidedly lacking any natural protection from the cold. The caps strike me as so whimsical, yet utterly practical for their purpose. That's Phil.

Charles Hounsell

d. 1998 at 86 years old

My grandfather always had a story to tell, a song to sing and an idea to share. He'd been a woodsman, a fisherman and a carpenter, but to hear him speak, you'd swear that he was a statesman…Whenever there was trouble at home, I was sent to visit him…We watched Haystack Calhoun wrestle the Valiant Brothers and drank tea with sugar and Carnation evaporated milk. During commercials, I would stare into the painted eyes of deckhands on the model schooners my grandpa built, or the alpine meadows in the landscapes he painted.

Margaret Mossip

d. 2006 at 86 years old

This two-piece blue-grey dress was bought by our mom for her 80th birthday party…The colour looked lovely on her and she was radiant that day…Our mom was a premature baby and they say she weighed around two pounds at birth. She was little (4 ft., 8 in.) but she was a strong and courageous woman in many ways. She wore a button at one time that said "Small but Mighty," and she was...She left us with a profound feeling of being loved. Her death has left a hole that only a mother can fill...We miss her, but her love for us is very much part of who we are as women today.

Donald Scott Richardson

d. 1997 at 86 years old

I remember that my grandfather loved teaching…The most important lesson we learned was the importance of family. I remember that he loved to read…enjoyed the outdoors…was a musician…was an inventor…All of these memories are pictured with him wearing one of many plaid shirts...There were plaid shirts for working in his shop, going to town, going in the boat and special plaid shirts only worn for fiddle contests...I remember being a little girl and watching the back of the plaid shirt as he worked in his shop...I miss him.

Florence Vigod

d. 2007 at 87 years old

In 1994, I moved to Victoria, BC where I lived for 6½ years. My mother came to visit me twice. Both times we went to Seattle…This piece of clothing was purchased at the store of a local designer…This top always makes me think of the good times we had in Seattle. I still remember going to the restaurant called Flying Fish and my mother, who had a real sweet tooth, ordering her favourite dessert...She was in heaven...After she died, we returned to Flying Fish on Mother's Day...We toasted my mother and all the good times we shared together.

Hazel Valentine Rawlinson

d. 1999 at 87 years old

This dress belonged to my Gran…She gave it to me about twenty years ago. Although I never saw her wear it, this dress sums her up: vibrant, extroverted, outspoken, beautiful…This dress also represents the love (and loss) I feel for all my grandparents…They taught me so much. I have many good memories of them and they are always with me.

Adele Mazza McGovern

d. 2004 at 87 years old

Nothing was more important to Adele than her family. Her other great passion was her love of dance…Her long teaching career touched and enriched the lives of countless people…Adele has, in fact, left a legacy of love for dance for her children, her siblings (many of whom danced with her), her many students, and all those who came to know her...She remains in our hearts despite the fact that we no longer have the pleasure of her warmth and smile...When Adele lived, she danced like an angel. Now she dances with the angels.

Hazel Yale Loughridge

d. 2007 at 90 years old

My dear sweet mother-in-law, Hazel…red, her favourite colour to wear…She was a beautiful woman inside and out…As a tribute at her funeral, most family and friends wore red. And you see, red will always make me think of her, because red means love. And love is the biggest gift she gave everyone who knew her.

Catherine (Kay) Irving

d. 2006 at 93 years old

For almost a year and a half, I visited Kay nearly every week to give her a relaxing foot massage…It was a joy, a privilege, and the unfolding of a beautiful friendship... I loved when she wore this bright turquoise sweater. For a woman her age, I think she felt it was a little risqué, yet it reflected her vibrancy like nothing else she wore. The little row of beads at the neck sparkled like her personality and she stood out like the bright light she was in my life, like the bright light she still is. Kay helped me to see more clearly the light I carry. She taught me a lot about living and loving, and about letting go...because, eventually, there was a last foot massage, a final look from her to me, the passing of her spirit into another light.

The lovely light green knit wedding suit was a classy outfit for a classy, well-educated, beautiful young lady…It seems very special as it was not the usual white long gown. The earth green, the colour of new leaves, perhaps a symbol of the abundant life. The knit texture points to the woven, interconnectedness of all of life...Mom's wedding dress, her writings, and all the fond memories are like hidden treasures.

Evelyn Blondin

d. 2007 at 94 years old

Each day was something to look forward to; mom had a way about her that lit up the entire room and the people in it. Some of her favourite things were the young kids, pets, flower gardens and plants, playing cards, and her favourite colourful housecoats...She was always the cornerstone of the Blondin family...She will always be remembered and loved.

Bencion Kampos

d. 2006 at 96 years old

My Great Uncle Bencion's three-piece brown suit represents an era, where gentlemen walked down the street, respected members of society, wearing suit and hat and speaking polite conversation to one another…He wrote books at the age of 93...He delighted himself in using ink that was not just regular blue, but azure like the sea in Italy. As he explained, his name looked more dignified signed in azure...His suit was his persona. It was the bridge from his rich, but lonely, inner world which connected him to others...His death is the death of the three-piece suit worn daily, even to the corner store.

Goldie Davidow

d. 2006 at 97 years old

From as early on as I can remember, I thought my grandma was super-cool…Grandma's walk-in closet! Oh, the colours! The beautiful, shiny dresses each hanging in its own special spot…Many years later, when my grandmother moved into a fulltime care facility, I was sent...a gold silk, beaded gown that I never remembered seeing. After a little research in the family albums, we discovered that she had worn this dress for her son's wedding right around the time I was born...Even though she has passed on, I don't really miss her because I feel her with me all the time.

Hilda Smith

d. 1998 at 98 years old

Hilda's death came peacefully and the division of her belongings was seriously considered among her family, with the belief that her spirit lives on in these things. Aina-Nia, one of her granddaughters, received her pink housedress…This dress, while loved by Hilda, has probably been even more cherished and loved by her granddaughter. Aina-Nia wore this housedress whenever she was sad, saying as she put it on, "Cover me, Hilda. Cover me."...She was comforted by the feeling of the fabric against her skin and the silent knowing that her grandmother's arms wrapped around her. Her grandmother walks with her through every sadness.

Judith Barslovsky Oberman

d. 2000 at 98 years old

I remember how you patiently taught me to embroider when I was a young girl…I have cherished your yellow crocheted sweater as it was one of your favourites. Your mastery of these crafts began this family chain that has flowed from you through the generations.

Rose (Axelrod) Albert

d. 1988 at 93 years old

Rose was always elegant and well-dressed…She smelled like bath powder and vanilla…She wanted the black cashmere sweater for her 91st birthday…As we cleaned out the drawers, my mother asked if I wanted it. The sweater looked almost new but had my grandmother's warm, powdery, sweet smell...The wool, living, alive, has taken on my scent as well and is threadbare from my wearing it so often, thinking of her with love...It is ready to go to the ocean of the whole, not to be passed on to another individual, but to join with many other people's clothing in this collective collage, this project of grief and love and memory.