Chris Daigle Eulogy – July 22, 2017

Posted on July 27, 2017
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Chris Daigle Eulogy
July 22, 2017
(Died July 16, 2017

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome in the second century, said “It is not death that a man should fear, but never beginning to live”. I don’t know if Chris Daigle ever heard of Marcus Aurelius but she made certain his warning would never apply to her.

Everyone I spoke to about Chris for this commented on her zest for life and how she lived every moment to the full.

Her sister, Maureen “Eanie” as in eanie, meanie, miny, moe, Strong, once told her, “Chris, you are going to be the only woman in history to run over yourself with your own car!”. Chris had a habit of arriving home, jumping out of the car, rushing into the house and starting a batch of preserves while the car was still running. Her great friend Carole Anne Hilchey had the experience of walking by one day and finding Chris’s car running in the driveway. Chris denied she had left it running even while she went out and shut it off.
Neighbour Frank Kane remembers that another neighbour, the late Bill Campbell, used to call her “The Road Runner” because every time he saw her she was just driving off or arriving home.
When her walking partner was getting up to speed for her day at seven a.m., Chris would mention she’d already made a batch of her famous red pepper jelly and a batch of strawberry rhubarb jam.

She started moving fast very young. The eldest of 12 children, she left school at 15 to help provide for the family. She went to work as an order clerk for the then Simpsons Sears in their Bathurst store. She worked her way up to head of the department, then the store and eventually to District Sales Manager for the entire Maritimes while, at the same time, marrying at 17 and, after the marriage failed, raising her daughter, Carol Ann, and two sons, Michael and Peter, on her own. She opened Sears stores in small towns all over the Maritimes and even on the Magdellan Islands.
Sons Michael and Peter remember that she often had to billet them out with friends when she was on the road but also that, when she was in town, she would come home at noon to make them lunch.
The family remembers that, in those days, she wore custom made suits making sure she was especially professional in a man’s world. In her retirement years she was still always very stylish but would be proud of the outfits she put together at Global for a few dollars.

I first met Chris at the farm market when it was downtown in the addition to the old federal building. She was very encouraging to our 9 year old daughter who was making and selling greeting cards there.
She was a founding and driving force for the Chatham Farm Market suitably closed today out of respect for her.
Her dear friend and market cohort, Evelyn Rigley Fletcher, says, “Chris loved the Market and was very instrumental in keeping it going in hard times. She totally loved the social part of it and always made customers and new vendors welcome.
“She brought energy to our market in her youthful and progressive ways. She was 84 going on 34. She and I would have breakfast together every Saturday morning.
‘We both loved CBC Radio so had great talks about Morningside.In later years we would rehash what happened on Coronation Street the past week.She was a great friend. I will miss her. Our market has lost a great spark of life.”
“The market was her second life,” says the family. “After she retired, she needed a new channel for her boundless energy.”
She told me that, when she turned 80, she thought she should quit the farm market with all the work that went into making her wares. She decided against it because she couldn’t give up the social aspect of her market vendor and customer family.
Chris was very feminine and at the same time fiercely independent — the very model of a true feminist. She was very successful in the man’s world she worked in all her life. She loved being a woman and we flirted constantly at the market. She laughed (and swatted me) when I told her she was the first great grandmother I ever hit on.
My wife Michelle says she always thinks of Chris with that big, smile, mischievous twinkle and musical laugh.

Everyone, of course, talks about how she simply did not age. Apparently that gene has been passed along. One time she showed me a picture in the Fredericton Gleaner of a gorgeous, young blonde in, I guessed, her mid to late 20s. The accompanying story was about how this teacher, Chris’s daughter Carol Anne, had invited a class of graduating high school students back to open the time capsule they had created when they were in her grade one class.
The math did not compute for me. “She’s awfully young to have had a class that is graduating high school,” I said.
“She’s 50 years old,” said Chris. Until then, I had thought Chris might be mid to late 50s. To my mind, this information did not compute either.
“When did you have her?” I asked. “What were you, 12?”
Again she swatted me. Again she laughed.

Chris was a fervent member of the Liberal Party. Frank Kane pointed out that she was a member of both the local and provincial Liberal association boards. He and Carole Anne Hilchey both added that her party loyalty never meant she shied away from controversy. If she felt the party was going off course she would express her dissatisfaction in clear and blunt terms. Carol Ann adds that she could unload on the party from inside the family but would not tolerate outsiders doing that.
Chris was not only a big L Liberal, she was a small l, open minded, progressive liberal in thought and deed. She always cared about all the people of Canada. Anyone here who knew Chris knows how she felt about the current President of the United States.
She was always right on top of current events and affairs around the world. Carol Ann Hilchey says she was a news addict, dedicated CBC listener and watcher and newspaper reader.
“She could talk about anything,” she says, “Politics, religion, current affairs, anything. She always knew where she stood on any issue and so did you.

Her daughter Carol Anne tells about learning Chris had had a heart attack and dashed home to see her.
“There she was, in the ICU, with her laptop on her chest following all the details of the federal election campaign. She had her flip phone which was constantly ringing for her conversations with her friends.
“She told me she had beans for the market in the oven when her attack happened and gave me detailed instructions on what to do with them. Later she asked if I had remembered to remove the pork.
“They did finally get her phone away from her but not her laptop,” she says.
Her family was her biggest treasure. The family talks about how Christmas was always huge for her. For years they all came to her at Christmas. As time went along and the family grew and scattered, that was no longer possible. One family got her each year. They would each look forward to their turn.
No matter where they were, though, they all got the same care package. It included, of course, her jams, jellies, antipastos, salsas and baked beans we all saw at the market each week. In addition, there were her meat pies and Scotch cakes with icing and maraschino cherries. She froze her meat pies, wrapped them in newspaper and shipped them as far away as a community on Vancouver Island.
Hearing and seeing them talk about it reveals how warmly her love for
them was reciprocated.

Everyone I talked to to gather information about other people’s relationships with Chris had most of the same observations.
Frank Kane feels blessed to have known Chris whose zest for life showed us all how to live. Everyone else said the same thing in one way or another.
Her dynamism also came up in every interview.
Her knowledge of, passion for, public affairs, current events and justice also always came up.
Her wit and style led to some comments about her language which I struggled to find words for suitable in a church.
Her preserves were often sweet and her language often salty was the best I could come up with.
When someone lives a long, full, rich life with Chris’s energy, decency and enthusiasm, people who don’t know them sometimes think that is enough. In fact, when someone lives as Chris did, we just want them to live much longer.
Some folks are old at 84. I feel that Chris died tragically young. None of us were ready for her to leave and we have a very hard time to believe it.

Erma Bombeck said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me”.

No one who knew and loved Chris as we all did would have any doubt she did that.
I’d like to close with a thing Frank Kane said, “Don’t make it too mushy, David. Chris wouldn’t like that.

You are an inspiration and model to all of us, Chris.

On we go!

David Cadogan

Addendum: I had reached out to Frank McKenna for a comment. He got back to me the day after the funeral. He said, “David, I was out of Province and just returned to hear the sad news of Chris Daigle’s passing. She was one of the sunniest personalities I ever met. A beautiful woman inside and out”.

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