Hummel, Marion

Hummel, Marion

April 4th, 2021

Passed away peacefully, at Victoria Hospital on Sunday, April 4, 2021, in her 74th year. Loving mother of Doug (Rachael) and Robin (Stacey). Survived by her sister, Ellen Doan (Ted). As an elementary teacher, Marion was loved by her students who continued to reach out to her years later. Cremation has taken place. A private family service will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make donation in memory of Marion are asked to consider Laubach Literacy Ontario.

Words of Rememberance from her son Doug...

Our thanks go out to the staff at Victoria Hospital in London for making sure she was comfortable and without pain in her last couple of days.  Thanks also to Tim at Westview Funeral Chapel for helping to make a difficult process manageable. 

Mom lived her last couple of years at Elmwood place in London.  Thank you to all the staff there for their care of mom and a special thank you to Tina for arranging our FaceTime chat just before Christmas, the last time mom and I saw each other.  It was during that call that mom told me she wished for her cremated remains to be spread at our country home.

We intend to have a celebration of mom’s life here in Baldwin when social gathering is permitted.  Ideally around mom’s birthday, August 27.  If you or someone you know wish to attend, please let us know and we will send an invite at the appropriate time.

As I have had a few days to gather myself and because I am unable to speak to those who knew her in person for a while yet, it is important for me to say some things about her here.  Seems impersonal I know, but here I can get through it without having to worry about being incoherent in my grief. 

Firstly, I am so grateful for the people I have in my life and many of you have reached out already.  Thank you to my wife Rachael for being here to support me and to her wonderful family Mike, Janice and Charlotte. Thanks to Dad and Sherry, thanks to all our great friends, thanks to all of my amazing clients, and thanks to Robin, my sister, for being there with me.

Robin and I were able to be there with mom for her last 24 hours and, though she never woke up, I’m sure she could hear our voices and was comforted by our presence.  Many people I’ve spoken to in the medical field feel that a person’s hearing stays with them until the end and I choose to believe that.  Mom had a passion for music, primarily folk and rock and roll, so I made sure to have some tunes playing while we sat there with her.  It was fitting that Bob Dylan, her absolute favourite, was playing as she took her last breath.  A passion for music and an ability to immerse oneself in a song is one of my favourite things that mom and I shared.  She would often request that I play guitar for her when we visited and she, herself, was a very good pianist.  And it was always so cool telling people that she and dad had been at Woodstock.  Looking at her old photos this week has been further affirmation that she was pretty cool herself.

Marion Hummel graduated from the University of Toronto and became an elementary school teacher, but according to so many of her students along the way, she was so much more.  Mom had a knack for getting through to students who were struggling and many of them stayed in touch with her long after they had moved on.  She found her true calling, I believe, when she moved from a regular classroom to R&D.  She specialized in working with kids with learning disabilities and she always gravitated to the kids who struggled the most.  After retiring and moving to London, mom volunteered her time at Literacy London where she tutored adults in reading and writing.  As long as she could, she devoted much of her life to the education of others.  It is because of this passion for education that we are asking people to make a donation to Laubach Literacy Ontario to honour mom, in lieu of flowers.

Not surprisingly, mom loved to read.  Alice Munro was her favourite.  She passed her love of reading and language onto Robin and I as well.  We always enjoyed playing word games together and mom still managed to beat Rach and I at Scattergories on our more recent visits.  I guess I assumed that when I was all growed up I would be able to beat her, but I carry no shame in losing.  Mom was very bright.

Mom also LOVED cats.  All animals really, but cats were at the top of the list.  We generally had at 2 or 3 cats living in the house growing up and mom would often leave food out in the garage for strays that would wander over from the nearby farms.  A love for animals is another of my favourite things mom and I shared.  In fact our entire family feel very connected with animals and it is not by accident that I have dedicated my adult life to working with dogs.

While mom enjoyed helping others; she was exceedingly generous, caring and loving, she was rarely good at helping herself.  For as long as I can remember she struggled with crippling depression.  She saw a number of psychiatrists over the years and was on countless meds to help her try to manage the sadness and loneliness she felt.  She would frequently call me in tears to tell me how sad and lonely she was and it was all I could do to choke back tears while I tried to console her.  I worried about her all the time and I always wished she would find companionship after she and dad divorced over 30 yrs ago.  Coupled with her depression and other mental health concerns was an alcohol addiction that was unmanageable for many years.  After moving to London almost 15 years ago though, mom really took to AA.  She was as healthy as I’d ever seen her in 2012 at Rachael and my wedding and a few years ago she received her 10 yr medallion for sobriety from AA.  I was so proud of her perseverance and fortitude during that time.  For someone who was constantly at war with her personal demons, her addiction to alcohol was a demon she was able to slay.  She would often quote the serenity prayer in her time in London,

‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.’ 

I believe she was courageous at times and she was certainly wise, but I’m not sure she was ever granted the serenity.

She had so many wonderful friends in her life that cared so much about her, who would try to lift her up when she was down.  We tried because she was worth it, because we loved her, because she had many amazing qualities.

What I came to learn along the way, and I hear it is the case with many people who suffer from mental illness, is that it is common for people who suffer to push their loved ones away.  Always feeling like they are a burden or not worthy and not wanting to be a bother, or fixating on small arguments and holding grudges.

Mom managed to push many people away over the years and had a hard time keeping in touch.  Her sister Ellen and husband Ted, their kids Cathy and Eric, her best friends; Jane and Marlyn, Pat, Patti, Cathy and John, Trish and Jack, Carlyn, Deborah and Robin and I.

Others as well, and I apologize to any I’ve left out.  We all had a hand in trying to pick her up when she was down and we were all left to feel helpless at times when she could not pick herself up.  Again, she was irrefutably worthy of our efforts, but she could make it very hard.

In the end I am left with pictures and my memories.  Memories of happiness, love, comfort, laughter, admiration, of frustration, anger, helplessness and finally sadness.  Mom, I loved you and I know that you loved me.  I loved you even when I hated you.  I am sad that you didn’t choose to come move closer to us these last ten years.  I am sad that you were never able to find another companion to share your life with.  I am sad you won’t get to share in the beautiful memories that Rach and I have yet to make.

But I am happy that you will never have to feel sad again.

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Book of Condolences

Carlyn ChapmanOh, Doug and Robin, please know that Jim and I are very saddened by the news that your Mom has passed. She lived with us for six years and we had many adventures with your Mum. From sitting by the pond talking, petting greyhounds, going on convertible car rides, going to concerts (Leonard Cohen, Gord Lightfoot, and Bob Dylan twice), a Caribbean Cruise, a trip to Orlando and the AA International Convention in 2010 in San Antonio as well as many shopping trips, restaurant visits, and watching comedy on TV, Marion seemed to enjoy them all. She was the number one groupie for our band "The InContinentals" and she was so supportive to us. She suffered from terrible anxiety, though, which robbed her of much enjoyment and the ability to relax. We both hope we brought some happiness to her while she lived here and I was glad to see the picture you used for her obituary was one I took of her where she looked relaxed and content. Please know that she was very precious to us both and we were sad that her mental illness resulted in our estrangement from her . Please remember her fondly and share those memories with your family.
Robert McMasterCondolences to you, Doug and Robin. We have never met, but my Partner, Jennifer White and myself met your mother through Carlyn and Jim Chapmen , while she was staying with them. Like Carlyn and Jim, Jennifer and are musicians. Jennifer is a Celtic harper, and composer, we perform the gentler side of Celtic influenced music, and at so many of our local concerts, we would see your mother, along with Carlyn and Jim, up there in the front rows, all smiles and waiting for our music and stories. Not only was she a fan, but like Carlyn and Jim also a supporter of ours that allowed us to continue with our music pursuits through some tough times that those in the arts experience from time to time. She said that Jennifer’s music was a great help when she was feeling down, and she was happy to help us in her own way. On a few occasions I acted as driver for Marion, to go to appointments, or other destinations. On long trip was to the Guelph Veterinary Hospital, bringing Cleo, on of the Chapman’s Greyhounds there for an exam. It was during that trip that she filled me in on her struggles with alcohol and depression, and the distancing it it caused with family and friends, something that saddened her greatly. I thought that in itself a very brave and courageous thing for her to speak about. You mentioned that Marion and your father were at Woodstock, I have photos of your mother and Carlyn dressed appropriately for the show “Woodstock at the Palace Theatre”, a dress-up presentation of the movie of the Music Festival. They were indeed happier times. If you would like me to email copies to you contact me through my email.
Doug HummelThank you Carlyn and thank you Robert. Carlyn I have sent you a message through Facebook and very much hope you get it. Mom’s time with you were some of the healthiest of her life. I am grateful. Robert, I believe I met your wife at a festival in London and have a CD to remember the occasion. You or any who have photos of mom would be greatly encouraged to email them to me.
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