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"OWR" 2008 Obituary


OWRAM 2008-07-07 published
Pictures of dead child help parents
By Kristine OWRAM, The Canadian Press, Mon., July 7, 2008
Toronto -- Gina STRIMAS- MacKEY was still celebrating the birth of her seventh child, Ezra, when she woke up one morning in May to find him lying motionless in his crib, not breathing.
One of her daughters performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on him until the paramedics arrived, but it was too late. Ezra was dead after only six weeks of life.
As the family made funeral preparations, a friend suggested that they might want to do something to memorialize their son. When she mentioned Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a charitable organization that specializes in photographing dead and dying infants, STRIMAS- MacKEY knew she had found the perfect way to remember Ezra.
STRIMAS- MacKEY contacted Heather RIVLIN, a Toronto photographer who is with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and she agreed to take photos at Ezra's funeral.
The photographs from that day tell a story of grief, but also of a close-knit family supporting each other in a difficult time.
In one photo, STRIMAS- MacKEY holds Ezra, the tears visible on her face as her husband comforts her.
"I thought (these photos) would be a tangible tool to help the younger children understand and comprehend what had happened. What I've come to realize is it's a tool to help me, because it doesn't let you forget," said STRIMAS- MacKEY.
"I don't want to forget how we felt at that moment, because if we do that it will minimize how much Ezra means to us," she added, her voice breaking with emotion.
STRIMAS- MacKEY isn't alone in her desire to remember a very difficult part of her life, said Sandy Puc, a Colorado-based photographer and co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Puc already specialized in photographing terminally ill babies when she was asked by a client if she could wait until her baby was taken off life support to photograph him "without all the tubes and the wires."
Puc said she was "bowled over" by the request, and found it very difficult, but also very fulfilling.
The end result of that photo session inspired Puc and the mother, Cheryl Haggard, to create Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep was founded in 2005 and already has more than 5,000 photographers volunteering in 20 different countries.

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OWRAM o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-04-19 published
OWRAM, Myrtle Hope (née ROBB)
Passed away on April 12, 2008 in her 93rd year in the Aurora home she and her beloved late husband Lees OWRAM built and lived in since their marriage in 1940. Her sense of humour and her kindness to all (people and animals) were only a part of the reason she seemed to gain affection from everyone who knew her. She was always so positive, enjoying her life, family, and her many dear Friends tremendously and planning the next project even in the final weeks of her life.
She is survived by her children Doug and Leesa, her daughter-in-law Deborah, her granddaughter Kristine; her dear friend Peter, and by her siblings Joseph and Lola ROBB and her sister-in-law Elsie OWRAM. She would also have appreciated adding her cat Patches and all the birds and furry creatures who visited her home! She will be missed by all.
The family wishes to thank her wonderful neighbours who supported, provided assistance, Friendship, and care so she could remain in her home. Also, thanks to Doctor Nancy MERROW from Southlake Regional Health Centre, The Community Care Access Centre, and the SRT nurses who made it possible for her to die comfortably at home as she so wished.
Family and Friends are invited to swap "Myrtle stories" at a wine and cheese reception to be held Saturday, May 3 between 2 and 4 p.m. at the Timberlane Athletic Club, 155 Vandorf Road in Aurora. Arrangements entrusted to Thompson Funeral Home, Aurora, (905) 727-5421. A donation to a charity dedicated to improving animal welfare is appreciated.

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OWRAM o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-07-07 published
OWRAM, Myrtle "Mo" (ROBB)
Mother, grandmother, friend, maverick. Born May 28, 1915, in Toronto. Died April 12 in Aurora, Ontario., of congestive heart failure, aged 92.
By Kristine OWRAM, Page L6
Mo wasn't a typical grandmother, and she took great pride in this.
She asked that I never call her "grandma," because it made her feel old. Instead, she opted for the slightly unusual nickname of Missouri While I grew and she aged, losing height from her already diminutive frame, she gave us the nicknames "Stretch" and "Squash."
Mo loved to poke fun at her inability to perform grandmotherly tasks such as knitting and cooking. But it wasn't only as a grandmother that she defied convention.
Born Myrtle ROBB, she grew up with five siblings in privileged circumstances in North Toronto, but material possessions and social status meant little to her. One of her favourite sayings was, "People matter. Things don't."
Mo graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto's Victoria College in 1937. She was a great athlete who played basketball, baseball and tennis at university. She carried this love of sports with her for the rest of her life, and at 90 she could still be heard yelling at the television as the Leafs disappointed her once again.
At university, Mo met Lees, her husband of 56 years. They married in 1940 and together they designed and built a home in Aurora. Mo said it felt like the middle of nowhere at the time, but she grew to love it. There, she raised her two children, Doug and Leesa, and became adamant she would never leave. She was true to her word - she died in the same bedroom in which she had slept for 68 years.
In the 1950s, Mo was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. She spent the next 20 years volunteering as a driver for the Canadian Cancer Society. Despite her pack-a-day smoking habit, she died at 92 cancer-free.
Mo had a huge group of Friends of all ages and all species right up until the end. There was not a stray dog or cat that she wouldn't take in, and she always fed the squirrels and birds that flocked to her property. At one point she had three dogs and three cats living under the same roof.
Mo became a vegetarian in an era when such decisions were practically unheard of. She was ardently political. She loved to engage in fierce debates and would not apologize to anyone for her partisan opinions. But she also had a wicked sense of humour, and her political arguments would almost always end in laughter.
Mo was a maverick who didn't let social norms define her behaviour. She was ferociously protective of her family. Her Friends thought of her as a sister and her sisters thought of her as their best friend. As a grandmother, she was larger than life.
Kristine OWRAM is Mo's granddaughter.

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