August 12, 1939 – March 27, 2023
In Loving Memory ~
Carole Fay McKenzie was born on August 12, 1939, in Camrose, Alberta, to parents, Karin Beatrice Ekstrand, born in Göteborg, Sweden, and Charles Robertson McKenzie, born in Fordyce, Scotland. Awaiting her was her older sister, Shirley Lorraine. Her brother, Charles (Sonny) would come a few years later.
The family moved to North Vancouver when Carole was two. She spent a lot of time with her Gammy (her mom’s mom) who was her favourite childhood memory and at Sunday School where she became very serious about ‘being good’ and getting to heaven. Mom, if there is a heaven, we all know you made it there.
So fun and full of energy, Carole had no shortage of friends at Westview Elementary and, later, at North Van High, many of who remained close all her life. Mom loved those annual “North Van Friends Chinese Pig-Out” with those old and dear friends so much!
At age 15, Carole met Verne Bullock and got engaged soon thereafter. She married him on November 2, 1957, in a $39 dress she sewed herself along with four red velvet dresses for her attendants. As Verne pursued what would be his life career in the tire business, Carole got a job with Imperial Oil and, later, at Schlage Lock, impressing them with her typing speed and shorthand.
When Carole got pregnant in 1961, she put away her own career aspirations to put her heart into raising and loving what turned out to be four children. We were her greatest gift she’d tell us later and often.
Her sewing machine whirred non-stop to dress us as we grew and to make curtains for the homes we lived in, our first in Pleasantside, then Ioco, then to a beautiful house in Bedwell Bay above Indian Arm, and, finally, to nearby Belcarra Park. Mom loved making homes of those houses.
Although she never much liked housework, dusting only (she’d tell us) when she could write ‘I love you’ in the dust, every home she lived in became beautiful, warm, and inviting through her artistic eye and her sewing skills.
Mom and Dad loved living by the water and soon bought their first boat, Tyme-off. Stardust II, their second boat followed, and, then Switch, a big ol’ motor sailor sailboat on which we spent years of weekends and our summer holidays. Mom, of course, got out her sewing machine again to make upholstery and curtains for all these boats.
When she wasn’t sewing, Mom macraméd and crocheted. Or played the piano, plunking away at an antique upright with a lot of chipped ivory while she sang us songs like Puff the Magic Dragon, Mairzy Dotes and Dozy Dotes, Teddy Bear’s Picnic, and Stars are the Windows of Heaven. Songs we all sing to our children now.
Mom loved having fun and was an organizer extraordinaire. She started ‘Sunday FunDays’ to get family friends together and out in nature, organized an annual Bedwell Bay fishing derby for the whole neighbourhood, setting up boat races and making paper badges for the biggest, smallest, and prettiest perch, and held Hallowe’en parties with fireworks and hot chocolate for the kids and gluvine for the ‘big kids.’
While Mom was busy with children, neighbourhood events, and making their house a home, Verne was busy building a business he called Columbia Tire Limited. Through what became a very successful business, Mom and Dad travelled all over Canada and the world: England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bermuda, Argentina, Mexico, and Hawaii.
Yes, she said, they went to so many beautiful places! But…leaving us kids at home tore her heart out, she said; once, she made Dad bring her home early because she missed us so much.
Once we children grew and went off to have families of our own, Mom and Dad moved up to Egmont on the Sunshine Coast where, once again, she turned an old and rustic logger’s cabin into a beautiful home.
They lived for a couple of years there, enjoying their beautiful view up the Inlet. Mom joined the tiny community’s quilting group and began making the first of what’s now a grand total of 30 gorgeous, quilted Christmas stockings. Mom’s mom (our dear Grandma) passed in 1989 when they were living in Egmont, breaking mom’s heart.
Mom and Dad divorced in 1992. Although a huge change for her, Mom was a strong woman who enjoyed her own and her friends’ company, and after her divorce, Mom quickly made a new life for herself. She moved to Coquitlam and then, had a home built to perfect Carole-specifications in Maple Ridge.
Here, she spent lots of time with her daughter, Leah and the family who lived there, becoming a huge part of Leah’s children’s lives for several years.
In 1994, Mom made the big move to Nanaimo to be near her son, Greg, and his young family. There, a new life began for Mom with new friends who became best friends. Mom still loved, loved having fun. As a member of the Cameron Island Condo’s strata council, Mom was a lively instigator of many initiatives and hoodwinks and brought her sparkly personality to Nanaimo Newcomer’s group where she met dear friends she’s kept to this day.
She started and became the ‘Queen Bee’ of a Nanaimo Red Hat’s chapter, played bridge regularly, volunteered for Altrusa, bringing books to seniors who couldn’t leave their homes, golfed, and joined Probus, becoming President for one year where she was so thrilled when she’d ring her bell and the membership would become silent. “What control I had for a little minute!” she’d tell us, giggling.
After losing her leg to infection after knee surgery, Mom became an active member of the Amputees group, supporting new amputees. The loss of her leg slowed her down, but she continued to create beautiful flower and veggie gardens that were like sunshine to her and took up yet more hobbies: tole painting, ceramics, and in the last few years, ukulele lessons, joining the Cameron Island Uke Band and making a brand new set of good friends.
Mom’s favourite saying was “To love and be loved is the greatest joy in life.” And, despite the many physical challenges she was handed, she did exactly that, thoroughly loving her children, grandchildren, and the dear friends she felt fortunate to have had truly blessed friendships with.
Our dear mom died on March 27, 2023.
August 12, 1939 — March 27, 2023
As Linda Ellis wrote in her poem ‘The Dash,’ what matters most is the dash between birth and death dates. That little dash represents the time Mom spent on earth, and how she lived and loved. Mom spent her dash so joyfully, with a smile on her face even when her physical challenges would have put many a grown man down, and she overcame what had been handed her with determination, laughter, and grace.
Leaving to remember her with tears and smiles are her four children, Caryn Stroh (Aaron), Leah Marusic (Rob), Greg Bullock (Rachel), and Vicki Petrie (Andrew); sister Shirley Jensen and brother, Charles (Sonny) McKenzie (Judy); ex-spouse Verne Bullock, Verne’s siblings, Gary (Lani), and Brenda (Hans); sister Shirley’s sons, Dennis and Mitch, who loved their ‘Auntie Kay,’ and brother Sonny’s sons, Warren (predeceased) and Allan; the grandchildren she loved as much as her children, Bryan, Kajsa (Vova), Jordan (Hannah), Kymmy (Bryden), Josh (Lexi), Sophia, Daniel, Charlie (sadly predeceased at age 15), and Liam; her great-grandchildren, Kaden, Treyton, Chance, Carter, Hailie, Brooks, our very new Vera, and, another precious great-grandchild, Hadley, who Kymmy’s fiancé, Bryden, brought to our family.
Last but certainly not least, Mom leaves behind many, many, many friends who loved her.
Heartfelt thanks to the staff at HAU and the Palliative Unit, to Dr. Forrest and the numerous nurses at Nanaimo Hospital who treated mom with so much empathy and care.
A service will be held in August. Please check back on the First Memorial website to see details as they become available.
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