October 2nd, 1926 ~ December 25th, 2019
Ethel McCracken passed away peacefully at Mt Cartier Court the evening of December 25th, 2019 after a courageous battle with vascular dementia.
Ethel was born in Fredericton Junction New Brunswick and was the youngest surviving child in the family of eleven children (Arthur, Larry, Harvey, Helen, Vance, Charlie, Lloyd, James, Joey (Mrytle) and baby Margaret) born to Loretta (Brawn) and Arthur McCracken. She was affectionately nicknamed Essie by her siblings.
Ethel enjoyed adventure! When in High School during 1942, her sister Helen who was a nurse came home from a ski trip in the Laurentian Mountains with a broken leg and told Ethel about a new profession called an X-Ray Technician. Ethel immediately knew that this was going to be her future career. She mentioned this career choice to one of her uncles and he said she would never find work and to do something else. Ethel moved to St. John New Brunswick in 1944 to study X-Ray at St. Joseph’s Hospital. It was here that she answered her first telephone call and it was here that she learned that World War 2 was over and that her three brothers and sister who were serving would be coming home alive.
As the 79th person registered as a Radiological Technician in all of Canada, her future dreams of travel and adventure began. Ethel worked in St. John NB, Fairville NB, Perth Ontario and then her and her sister Joey (nurse) moved to Montreal to live with their sister Helen and family. From there Ethel and Joey moved to Calgary Alberta to experience some of the real excitement out west.
Her sister Joey often told of the high level of respect that the Doctors who worked with Ethel had for her skill, ability and precision in always getting the exact angle needed for the perfect X-Ray and never “wasting an X-Ray film”.
She met and married Cecil Gurley in Calgary and their son, Reg was born there in 1954. They moved on to Jaffray, Vernon and finally Revelstoke with Ethel always working in X-Ray. Once Ethel set foot in Revelstoke in 1960, she said she was never leaving this beautiful community and the spectacular Mt Begbie. Linda joined the family in 1962. Her love for Revelstoke continued with Reg and Linda raising their families in the community close to Nana.
Ethel believed in owning property and did very well with her choices. She re-started her personal life in Revelstoke twice with saving and purchasing homes for her family and eventually settling into her duplex on Maley Road.
From 1960 to 1968, Ethel worked part time and on call at the old Queen Victoria Hospital. When Linda went to Kindergarten, Ethel took a full time position. By 1970 she was Head X-Ray technician and opened the new and state of the art X-Ray Department at the new QVH in 1971. Ethel retired from QVH in 1991. She was always modest about her successful 30 + year career in Revelstoke. Many long time Revelstokians will remember Ethel for her excellent care in an emergency situation. “Take a deep breath and hold it.”
Ethel’s absolute pride and joy began with the arrival of her grandchildren. First with Ryan Buhler, Kyle Buhler, Leslie Ann Gurley, Eric Gurley and later Linda and Alan Chell’s blended family grandchildren Mary Chell and Richard Chell. She became affectionately called Nana for the next 36 years of her life.
Nana said she didn’t think it could get any better! But it did with the arrival of her Great Grandchildren: Mary and her husband Steve’s children David and Lauryn Kline; Richard and Michelle’s children Braeden and Leila Chell; Leslie Ann and Kazu’s children Maika and Amane Takinami and Kyle and Brianna’s children Briar and Ember Buhler. Her life was full of mutual love and affection.
Travel! Oh how Ethel loved to travel! She explored over 40 countries, 9 Canadian provinces and one territory and almost all of the USA states in her lifetime. She would return from one trip and start saving immediately for the next one. Ireland, tracing her McCracken roots was one of her favourite countries, visiting there multiple times. Also in the best trip category were Russia, China, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.
In her last decade of life, Ethel was content at her condo at Selkirk Gardens reading and tending her incredible patio garden. She had, and made, many close friends there and those years were truly enjoyable. Her travels continued but only within Canada to return to her beloved childhood home of New Brunswick multiple times to visit her siblings and 22 nieces and nephews. These trips were treasured memories, filled with laughter and love plus an adventure story or two.
When the time came that the disease of dementia required Ethel to have a higher level of care, her family felt very fortunate that Mt Cartier Court “Cottages” was “10 minutes” from her children’s homes and that the family knew most of the MCC staff. She moved into the Cottages in October 2017. Family were able to visit her nearly every single day of the 2 years and 2 months Ethel lived there. She also loved hearing of her granddaughter Leslie Ann’s life in Japan and loved seeing these family members every year. Nana was also introduced to FaceTime to stay in touch with her family in Japan. After her first Facetime experience at Christmas a few years ago, Ethel said “isn’t that remarkable! I wonder what my mother would think of that?”
Through her dementia journey, Dr Courtenay Rennie was always there with us and we are eternally grateful! Ethel’s end of life journey was supported by nursing and care professionals who took care of us with their knowledge, skills and love. Thank you.
Ethel’s family were able to have two full days of “a Christmas miracle” when she woke up lucid and fully cognitive just before her passing. Each family member had the time to talk and share memories with Nana, hold her hand, see her blow kisses to the great grandchildren and see the joy and love in her eyes when family were visiting.
We said goodbye to Nana after having our family Christmas dinner and being able to describe the joy of the evening to her. She slipped away peacefully at 9:10 pm on Christmas night.
Please, each Christmas night, join our family and raise your glass of white wine, slightly dry with lots of ice…. oh, maybe just half a glass…. and remember our Ethel, Mom, Nana.
The family are having a private Celebration of Life and Ethel will have one more trip Down East to Fredericton Junction in the summer of 2020 to be with her mother and father.