Drury-Eleanor Theresa Margaret Drury (Flannery) 88, of Maple Creek, Sk died peacefully with family by her side on July 1, 2016 at the Medicine Hat Hospital.
Eleanor Theresa Margaret Drury, born Flannery, was a tremendous woman of strength, love and faith. Her ability to laugh and passion for those around her made her an exceptional sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and friend.
It was only a week ago when she was admitted into the hospital and yet her laughter and voice seem stuck in our minds or just around the corner. I keep expecting her to come out and tell us not to fuss but, sadly, I know that won’t happen.
In the last couple of days, it was easy to hear her laugh as we recounted her exceptional card playing abilities, her dedication to her eight kids – Joe, Penny, Pat, Jerry, Tim, Jayne, Della and Dave… 14 grandchildren, one great grand-daughter, her nieces and nephews, and those within Maple Creek who enjoyed discussing her Swift Current Broncos, politics, her flower garden or whatever else was going on. She was engaging, smart and unconditional in her love.
Grandma – this one is for you… so please, lay back, relax and enjoy as we celebrate your life well-lived.
She was born July 28, 1927 in Piapot – the youngest sister to Mary, Gerald and Jim. The four of them were born within four years of each other so very close in age.
She loved sports and competed in running, high jump, broad jump and relay racing. She also played ball and rode horses. There were lots of cats and dogs on the family farm and the kids would line up the farm animals and race them. There was never a shortage of things to keep them entertained.
She recalled how hard her father worked – in her words, “It was the Dirty Thirties – when it would blow and blow – it was very dry – we never saw the sun because of the wind and sand blowing. However we milked cows, made butter, had chickens, a garden and pies. We were not hungry. Daddy farmed but it never produced much. He worked hard.” They did not have electricity nor running water.
In the winter the kids got to school on a stone boat – in the spring, summer and fall, they walked the three-and-a-half miles – uphill both ways according to her. Sometimes they came across fighting bulls – you can imagine, being the youngest she was quite frightened by them. One day while on their way to school, they came across two bulls fighting and she proclaimed, “To heck with this…” and ran all the way home declaring she quit school – effective immediately. She refused to go back to school that year. She was all of six.
As you’ll appreciate she eventually returned and finished high school in Maple Creek. She often referred to the Dirty Thirties and how little they had. She rarely focused on the hard ships. Rather, she spoke of where she learned to dance (in the cloak room), the pretty dresses Mary made her, the music made from a simple comb and a piece of tissue paper. It is this spirit of optimism and triumph that is part of the legacy she leaves us.
Her first job out of school was at the Bank of Montreal. She did bookkeeping and took great pride that her ledgers always balanced. She noted that if they did not, everyone would have to stay until they did. She then became a teller, got married and raised what she referred to as her “eight great kids.”
She was the secretary to minor sports while John Duncan was the president. She got to know him and others in the community fairly well. She also ran the food booth at the skating rink enjoying her time with her dear friend Lenora and watching their kids at the rink.
Eventually she got a call from the manager at the Co-Op to see if she was interested in working in their office. She was a friend of the manager’s wife from church and in her words, “…couldn’t believe she’d been called. I practically ran all the way down there. Ron Kessler was his name. My interview was on Friday and he asked if I could start Monday – I never looked back… my favorite was Daryl Haubrich – he gave me many raises – I guess I earned them and was there 20 years. Got to work until 66 even though 65 was the age limit.”
Her love for her kids was tremendous and she loved each of them equally. One time her Uncle Ed (Kealey) asked… how big is Dave?
She said, “Well, he’s eight feet four inches”.
“Is he now?” responded Ed. “Eight feet four inches…?” In her mind, Dave was absolutely that size. Her kids were grand and always larger than life in her eyes.
This love in recent years resulted in chores that were assigned based on if you did it once for the first time, it was yours until something happened. Ironically, she would not consider a change for fear of what her other kids would think. Thus, they were all assigned, formally or not, jobs for which they were responsible. The reality is that anyone would have happily helped her but she didn’t want to change the roles for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.
In addition to her eight kids, she was family to many neighbourhood children whom she welcomed into the Drury home as though they were her own.
Eleanor’s ability to love unconditionally was apparent throughout her life. She was a graceful second mom to each of us grandchildren. If Grandma was mad at you, which was rare, you knew you were in big trouble. She had a mischievous side that even when you tried something out, she seemed to understand that you were testing the limits not trying to hurt yourself or others.
Grandma spent many years in the Maple Creek skating rink and it is where she seemed to shine as she watched the girls figure skate and the boys play hockey. Each grandchild, including myself, loved the ice but none of us could compete with her passion for the Swift Current Broncos. She could be eating with family and she’d say, “I have to go. We have a game tonight and Coach (aka – Elnie) has to be there.” She would refuse trips to Medicine Hat and even supper invites if her Broncos were playing. Now you might think she was watching it on TV or attending in person but no…
She listened to the games via her radio – often using her metal measuring cup or aluminum foil to get better reception. In hearing her recount the big plays afterwards, she’d say, “So we were down by one then so-and-so made a great pass right out front then swoosh we put the puck in and WON…” She never spoke ill of the other WHL teams but she always knew the standing and statistics of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Uncle Orville, her sister Mary’s husband, was an avid Tigers fan. So if his Tigers did better than her Broncos, she’d hear about it.
In this vein, she taught us to win and lose gracefully. As one of my cousins remarked, we all learned to win and lose at Grandma’s kitchen table. It was a bit of a rite of passage to play cards with her. She was always very sharp and played with two plays ahead in mind. For a young grandson or grand-daughter, time with her meant being treated like an equal and if you lost you did so having given it your all. She expected no less of us and would be hurt if someone had eased up on her because of her age.
There are many stories and giggles she has enabled and shared. It is the sign of, as I said earlier, a life well-lived.
Elnie, Eleanor, Mom, Grandma, Gramm, Gramma D, Kookum, Great Grandma the Greatest – thank you for your love.
May eternal peace and happiness be with you. May your morning glories forever bloom as you sit fulfilled and at ease with Joe, Dave and Grandpa.
We love you to the Moon and back.
Eleanor was predeceased by her parents Jerry and Theresa Flannery, husband Ronald (Manny) Drury, sister Mary Studer, brother Jim Flannery, son Donald Joseph (Joe) and son David John (Dave). Eleanor will be forever remembered and loved by her children Penny Drury, Pat Olson, Jerry Drury, Tim Drury (Monique), Jayne MacDiarmid (Rod) and Della Fournier (Al); grandchildren Bree Hauck (Bryan), Kealey Foster (Travis), Leah Olson (Tyler), Brett Olson (Ashley), Madison Drury (Luke), Sydney Drury, Landri Drury, Lisa MacDiarmid, Michael MacDiarmid, Marisa Fournier, Chad Fournier, Todd Fournier, Craig Fournier, Blake Fournier; great grandchild Dreya Foster; brother Gerald Flannery (Dorothy) as well as nieces, nephews and friends.
A funeral service and celebration of Eleanor’s life took place Tuesday, July 5 at 10:30, St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Maple Creek, Sask. with Father Clement Nwankwo officiating and nieces Chrissy Storrs, Louella Burger, friend Marianne Gordon participating. Music provided by Linda Udal, Claire and Ross Pollock and the choir. Following the service the eulogy was presented by granddaughter Leah, the pallbearers were grandsons Brett, Michael, Chad, Todd, Craig, Blake and honorary pallbearers were grandaughters Leah, Bree, Kealey, Lisa, Marisa, Madison, Sydney, Landri and great granddaughter Dreya.
The immediate family held a private interment at the Maple Creek cemetery.
Those who wish may remember Eleanor with a donation to the charity of your choice.
Binkley’s Funeral Service Maple Creek and Leader was in charge of arrangements, 306-662-2292 http://www.binkleysfuneralservice.com.