CLARA (FRIESEN) EPP
August 25, 1921 - December 11, 2009
Clara Epp was the 5th of eleven children born to Peter & Eva Friesen on August 25, 1921 on their farm near Springfield, Saskatchewan in the Wymark area. She loved school and was always sorry that classes beyond grade 9 were not available in their area. She prided herself in participating in penmanship contests. She remained a patriotic Saskatchewaner all her life - whether just to tease us - we’re not sure.
In 1937 the Friesen family moved to Starbuck, MB, where they farmed near the La Salle River. This ample water source resulted in a lush garden - such a welcome after the dusty depression years of southern Saskatchewan. Relatives came from Saskatchewan that first fall to get straw & hay. Mom & her sisters packed sacks of potatoes, carrots and onions to send to Saskatchewan, burying them in the straw to keep them from freezing on the trip.
The Friesen family made the Homewood Mennonite Church their home church, attending as possible in spite of the distance. Clara was baptized there.
Clara married Peter Epp on April 4th, 1943, a muddy spring day. They put down a carpet of flax straw to keep her (the bride’s) feet clean and dry as she walked from the car to the church. This was just the first of many ways Dad showed his life-long love and devotion to Mom - especially precious after having lost his first wife ten years earlier.
Mom moved into Dad’s house on the farm that he had begun to homestead in 1936 near Homewood. Together they built up the farm, working as a team in all aspects of life. Mom helped Dad become proficient in speaking & reading English. She kept records of what was seeded on which field, did the bookkeeping, doing the math - sometimes on the back of the plastic table cloth and being involved with the banking & financial stresses of farming. Together they gardened, even after they retired and no longer needed to grow the vegetables for the entire year. Regardless of financial hardships, a beautiful flower garden always graced their yard. All of the six children were born in Carman and grew up on the farm.
Mom had many interests and loved to learn new things. She sewed our clothes all through our growing up years, guiding her daughters when we were old enough to learn to sew - always insisting on careful, quality work. She took Home Ec. courses when they were offered in Carman. She learned cake decorating in 1972 when 3 daughters married within half a year. She learned whatever she could about diabetes and nutrition after Ed was diagnosed with diabetes. She was fussy with his diet - and any other diabetic’s diet in those early years and right up to last month.
Mother loved reading. She loved words, especially playing Scrabble with her sisters, daughters, friends and sometimes even against herself. She entered writing contests winning roses for her mother for Mothers’ Day. Sometimes her words were short. and sometimes her words were sharp; never intending to hurt and always ready to take her words back if they offended. Mother’s choice of words was always impressive - even in her last days she was concerned about "adequate arrangements" for our hospitality.
All her married life Mom was involved in church activities, teaching Grade 4 Sunday School for years. She was part of the Ladies Group, sometimes sewing MCC baby layettes along with dresses for herself or her daughters.
In 1974 Mom & Dad moved to Carman. With the stresses and challenges of farming in their past, they enjoyed lots of visits with their siblings and friends. In Carman she got involved in the MCC Thrift Shop, being President for a term which once meant a trip to Akron, PA. The retirement years also allowed Mom & Dad to do some traveling - to the East Coast, to Alaska and a trip to Paraguay when Martha & Isbrand lived there.
In 1989 Mom & Dad moved to Winkler, living on Sun Valley Bay until their apartment in Lion’s Court was completed. Less than a year later Dad’s deteriorating health due to Parkinson’s Disease necessitated his move to Salem Home. Mom spent most afternoons and supper hours with him, feeding him when it became necessary and ending their day with devotions & prayer. Shortly after Dad moved to Salem Mom moved from Lion’s Court to a small apartment in Crocus Village.
When Dad passed away in October, 2001, her life changed dramatically - she keenly missed the support of the Salem Staff and other wives who visited their husbands. She had to find new connections with fellow residents. She valued the comfort, conveniences and beauty of her apartment.
In September, 2008, Mother was admitted to Boundary Trails Health Centre with spinal fractures. Last December she was very ill and not expected celebrate Christmas 2008 with us. God had a different plan and in a couple of months she was walking with her walker and able to talk again, always recognizing her children by name. She remained in hospital until July 29th, 2009, when there was a room for her at Salem Home in Winker. She voiced appreciation of not having to cook, sew or clean, but never allowed herself to become fully at home there - often asking to go home; not always knowing herself which "home" she meant - at times it was the home in Carman, her apartment in Winkler, the farm at Homewood, her home in Heaven, or her parental home at Starbuck, MB. (At one point one of the H.C. Aides mentioned to fellow staff that Mrs. Epp must have been taken out to Starbucks for coffee a lot because she kept asking her to take her to Starbuck. Another care giver concurred. A fellow worker corrected them by explaining there is a place called Starbuck and Mrs. Epp had lived there as a teenager with her parents.) We are most appreciative of the care Mom received at B.T.H.C. and Salem Personal Care Home.
Mom shaped and positively impacted our lives in many ways:
She cared for others - Mom was always a caregiver - When we were young she often kept nieces & nephews when their parents needed to go somewhere without them; she cared for us, putting our needs ahead of her own, hearing our prayers as kids, "Mude by ich geh zur Ruh..." ; she cared for her mother - be it drop in visits or extended care; She physically cared for Dad after he could not care for himself.
She believed in us - expecting us to do and be our best in every setting; letting us parent our kids in our own way; encouraging us to follow our own hearts while trusting us to stay true to her faith in God.
She taught us to enjoy that which is beautiful; showing us the stars on a clear winter’s night; enjoying a bouquet of dandelions; wearing a new hat... Beauty was an inner virtue to be valued, never a superficial facade.
She inspired us to love the Lord in all you do - Dad was the spiritual leader in our home, but when the language of Christmas gatherings changed to English she read scriptures and prayed. When Dad was no longer with us in a quiet sincere manner she mirrored God’s love and challenged us all to live for the Lord.
On Friday, December 11, 2009, Clara Epp, aged 88, passed away peacefully at Salem Home, Winkler, MB. She leaves to mourn her passing 5 daughters, Viola (Marvin Mirochnick), Eva (Ken Loewen), Irene (Frank Goertzen), Esther, (Wayne Guenther), Martha (Isbrand Hiebert); 1 son, Edwin (Donna), 17 grandchildren and their families - including 12 great grandchildren. She is also survived by 3 sisters, Eva Shirtliff, Mabel Larson, Eileen Wiebe (Walter), 2 brothers, Edwin Friesen ( Rita), and Clifford (Anne), 1 brother-in-law, John Thiessen and 3 sisters-in-law, Susie Epp, Aneta Epp, and Dorothy Epp. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Peter J. Epp, her parents Peter & Eva Friesen, 4 sisters and 1 brother.
We thank God for the full life she lived, for her peaceful passing and the gift of eternal peace.
In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Canadian Food Grains Bank or the Canadian Diabetes Association both available in the church foyer.