The Betty Farrell Residence for Families is a four-plex in Edmonton, providing supportive and affordable housing to families. Photo via rightathomehousing.com

The Betty Farrell Residence for Families is a four-plex in Edmonton, providing supportive and affordable housing to families. Photo via rightathomehousing.com

Commen-Terry: One woman’s legacy can plant a seed for others

My family laid our mother to rest last week — another cycle of life coming to an end.

Mom lived a long and very active life. She was 98 years old at her passing. And, 16 years after his passing, she is now reunited with dad.

You may remember my column from a while back, about our homestead being torn down. Mom had donated that house and land to the Edmonton Right At Home Housing Society.

Her legacy to the city of Edmonton became a reality shortly before her passing.

Our 70-year-old, seven-bedroom single family dwelling (I have nine siblings) was transformed into a four-plex of three-bedroom units for families in need of supportive and affordable housing.

The Betty Farrell Residence for Families is located in central Edmonton, and will remain a Right at Home Housing Society facility, in perpetuity.

I’m not writing this to toot my mother’s horn, or to add another feather in her cap. Her horn needs no tooting, and her cap has enough feathers.

The reason I am writing this is to plant a seed. My mother was a visionary who walked the talk. Her actions made a difference. And if hers can make a difference, perhaps someone reading this column will feel the same urgency to help others.

The need for affordable housing is greater now than it has ever been, not only in the larger cities such as Edmonton, but also in smaller communities, like ours. According to the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, there were 270 applications on the wait list for subsidized housing in the Comox Valley at the end of 2020.

Obviously, few people are in the same situation as my mom. She had no reason to continue living in a seven-bedroom home, and her children were not in need — we rarely have been, thanks to mom and dad.

When she explained her wishes for the house, she had our unwavering support. After all, it was not our house; it was hers.

Betty Farrell spent her life helping others. It’s only proper that she would continue doing so in her passing.

As for me, I will forever cherish my visits with mom over the past few years.

No matter how down she was, all I had to do was put on some of that sweet swing music and she would perk up.

We’d spend hours listening to her favourites, and often, I would hold her hand and she would lead me as I danced with her, while she sat in her favourite chair.

She would be smiling, eyes closed, likely picturing herself dancing with dad.

It’s your turn now, dad. You can have this dance.

Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record

ColumnistOpinion

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