Words written and spoken by Beth Leatherdale at Ben’s service. Ben adored her.
When Wendy asked if I would speak at Ben’s service, I am going to confess that I immediately had two thoughts come to mind, and to be totally honest, I am not sure which one came first. I thought. … of course! I would be honoured to speak of my memories of Ben, and at the same time I thought.. OH NO …this past year of enjoying good food and good wine has caught up with me. I needed either Jillian Michaels or a seamstress to work miracles in order to fit me into my Red Serge.
Thankfully I found a seamstress who made that miracle happen, allowing me to stand here today, to pay tribute, in the RCMP Uniform that Ben wore so proudly.
About a year ago, after about 15 years of talking about it, Wendy and I had planned a four day girls getaway to Palm Springs. A few weeks before we were scheduled to leave, Ben was diagnosed with cancer (with a small “c”). Although it was not immediately known how serious it was, Ben was very insistent that Wendy and I still go to Palm Springs on our getaway. However, Wendy realized that she just couldn’t, and didn’t want to leave Ben’s side. So we decided that I would travel to BC and we would have our vacation in the Saint-Onge backyard. I was quite happy about this knowing that Ben was a fabulous cook, they have a hot tub, and did I mention that Ben was a fabulous cook? Most importantly, I would get some quality time with them and support them when they were just beginning the journey of Ben’s fight.
Our vacation in the backyard that week ended up being moved to Surrey Memorial Hospital where we spent several days in Emergency sitting with Ben while the doctors worked to manage his pain and get a treatment plan started. We laughed, we cried, and we shared war stories to see if we could outdo each other’s stupidest moments.
Although it wasn’t hot and sunny, there was no where else I would rather have been then at Surrey Memorial with Wendy and Ben.
Looking back that week was just the beginning of the love, sacrifice and determination that I would see between Wendy and Ben over the next nine months. On whole new level I witnessed the deepest love and commitment that Wendy has, and has always had for Ben. If you all know Wendy like I do, you want Wendy in your corner when there is a battle to be fought. From day one, Wendy was determined to find a cure for Ben, and I believed if anyone could do it, it was Wendy.
Over the past nine months, through the endless appointments, surgeries and treatments, you were with Ben every possible minute to make sure he knew he was supported and loved more than anything. You protected and tried to shield from the often harsh and devastating news that each doctor you met with unfortunately had to share. Ben wanted it that way, because he wanted to remain positive in his mind and fight as hard as he possibly could. But mostly Wendy, because of you, Ben always had hope. Because of you Ben ALWAYS had hope. You were the love of his life.
Zak, Jaimie and Raegan….your Mom and Dad have raised to you to be strong, independent, respectful and kind. When I look at each of you I see pieces of your Dad. He loved the three of you more than anything is this world.
Zak, your Dad is so proud of the challenges you have overcome, and the young man you have grown into. It gave him such pride that you continue to help others who are in need of your help. You have been such a source of strength for your family over these past nine months. You need to remember how proud your Dad was to speak of you and call you his son.
Jaime, I know your Dad pushed you, supported you and developed training programs for you to help you excel in your athletics. Your strong work ethic, and your determination as an athlete is something that will help you succeed in anything you do in your life. Your Dad will be with you as you hit that volleyball, kick the soccer ball or run a race. He will always be above smiling and cheering you on.
Rae, each time I look at you, you remind me so much of your Dad. You are strong but gentle, you are tough but empathic, and you are modest but confident. Those are qualities that you and your Dad shared. You should hold your head high, just as your dad did whenever he so proudly spoke of you, his baby girl.
Ben, you were a man of few words which is something I admired so greatly about you. You truly listened when someone spoke to you, and were thoughtful in your response. You were kind and respectful to people, even when you were in such pain that most of us could not ever tolerate. I will miss your big smile and huge hugs when I walk in the door of your house, I will miss our coffee talks on your big brown couch, I will miss you making fun of me about how horrible I am with Apple products. I will miss listening to you playing your guitar, or your random laugh at Wendy and I when we didn’t think you were listening. I am really going to miss that amazing, kick ass caeser salad that you made but refused to share the recipe.
But most of all, I am going to miss your quiet, calm, strong presence.
I texted Ben on the Monday before he passed to tell him what a great person, father, and husband I thought he was, and that everyday I prayed that he would get better. I keep looking at my phone waiting for a response from Ben, and I think of what his response may be. Now I know that if Ben could respond, he would say, “take care of my family, I am no longer in pain, and I am at Peace. “
Ben, we will take care of your family.
Be in peace, because no one deserves it more than you.