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The Ruttle Report - Sending her off in the perfect way

A fitting spot for a fitting tribute
Ruttle Report Pic

For months, I had a vision in my head over how I wanted things to look, but in reality, the way that it did in fact turn out may have been for the absolute best.

You see, for months now since her untimely and heartbreaking passing, the cremated remains of my mom Lynda have been sitting on top of the piano at home.  In August, the gorgeous, deep blue urn that contained her went into the earth at the Fertile Valley Cemetery.  What remained was a handful of ashes, contained in a violet-coloured urn that's no bigger than a small child's fist.

On the first Saturday of this month, my brothers and I did something that turned out to be really special with some of those ashes.

We got in my brother Perry's car and headed up north to a place that holds so many in our family together with generational memories, Candle Lake.  Nestled between us, riding shotgun, was Mom.

The goal of the day was a simple one in theory, but an emotionally-charged one in execution.  We drove to Waskateena Beach, located mere feet from where we enjoyed the water as kids.  We took a look out over the lake and marveled at all the colours we were seeing; the green trees blending in with the new arrivals of orange and yellow.  We'd never been to Candle in the fall, so this was new to us.  I thought it was gorgeous.

We walked around a little bit at the beach area that we inhabited so many years ago, remembering a bench that used to be located there that both Mom and Dad used to sit and relax while the three of us splashed around in the lake.  From there, we decided that now would be the best time to do what we'd come there to do.  We walked out onto a sandbar, opened the small urn, and released a small handful of Mom's remains into the water.  I then pulled out a piece of paper with some words that I'd written, reciting them while choking back tears.  After I was finished, Perry took the paper and buried it in the sand, letting the lake water wash over it and do what nature does best with materials that can break up and erode away.

We stood there, watching the water for a few moments, each of us living in a memory or two, and then we left.  We ate at the golf course restaurant and then we were back on the road headed home.

It was a difficult day for the heart, but a good one for the mind.

I like knowing that a small part of Mom is up there.  It eases my heart and it makes the pain lessen just a little bit.  The water will do what water does best, things will move around in the lake, but I still lay my head to rest at night a little bit easier knowing that in some very modest way, she's up there, and she'll be up there forever.

I'll remember so much about Candle Lake dating back to when my family and I enjoyed it each summer, but the truth is there's so much more history that was lived and enjoyed up there long before my brothers and I came along.  My brother Brendon remembers riding with Mom in her SUV on the drive up to Candle to spend Christmas there in 2018.  We had taken two vehicles and while I was driving solo, he had gone with her.  He remembers listening to Mom recall memories of times spent up there.  I can remember her suddenly going down Memory Lane too, when her, Brendon and I spent the day up there over the Labor Day weekend in 2019.  To get to Candle, you drive through Prince Albert before hanging a right onto Highway 55 off the city's main bridge.  I specifically can recall having just turned onto that highway and Mom started sharing stories of her times up there long before she was married and had kids.  They were good stories that made good memories for her, and for that I was glad.

The following is the text that I wrote on that piece of paper that went into Candle Lake earlier this month.  It isn't overly long and I don't believe it to be overly sappy, it's simply a thank-you to our mom for introducing us to this one-of-a-kind place.

"Mom - The 'Candle' for All of Us


Your three boys are standing here on the beach at Candle Lake, mere feet away from where we swam as kids and enjoyed time together as a family.  The years have passed, we're now grown men, but this place will forever cut to the core and be the place that instilled so much joy in us, and made so many memories over so many years.

You're tied to this place with your own memories, made long before any of us came along, and I like to think you wanted to introduce us to this place because it made so many memories for you.  In turn, we made so many of them together, and they'll be in our hearts forever.

Perhaps the best time I can recollect was just three years ago when we all made the decision to spend Christmas up here.  Everything came together and all the pieces just fit right to make for an incredible holiday.  We were so happy to cross that off your 'bucket list'.  Seeing you marvel at all the sights, taking in the winter scenes up north, we knew we hit a home run.  Just an incredible few days that none of us will ever forget.

Thank you for bringing this place into our lives, Mom.  Thank you for taking us here, and thank you for creating memories we'll always remember.

It's only appropriate that now, after you've left this earth, we now dedicate a small part of you to these waters.  I'll always smile knowing that a piece of you will be here from now on.

All our love forever, Mom."

As I think about Candle Lake now, I marvel at how so many things have changed, yet still find a way to remain the same.  The area has grown and expanded so much.  There are new stores and services, new subdivisions, more people, and the area is capitalizing on its tip-of-the-northern-forest location like never before.  And yet, in a lot of ways, it's still that great escape that will always make me feel like it's the summer and I'm just a kid, with my whole life ahead of me.  The area has that sort of spell-like ability that lets a person forget about their problems and just live in the moment.

Can I get you to do me a favor, Dear Reader?  Think about that one place you vacationed from time to time when you were a kid.  Think about doing all the things that made you smile while you were there.  Think about the memories made with your family.  Think about the work that Mom and Dad put in to make it such a worthwhile trip each time.

And then, as you do that, I hope you'll smile.

I smile when I think of Candle Lake, and now, I'll smile even bigger knowing that we honored Mom by tying her memory to those cool, inviting waters.

Thanks for all those summers up north, Ma.

For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.