Beverley Alice Longford
(1938 – 2023)
If Bev had a patron saint it was St. Nicholas. For Bev, every day was Christmas Day: a chance to bring joy and beauty into the world, for others to enjoy. We are sure Santa was her role model.
For her husband Syd, Bev was a dependable source of joy, which flowed into their lives and the world through the deftness of her hands, the boldness of her imagination, and her loving attention to detail after detail. From the moment he first saw her (age 16, moving with a dancer’s grace, her yellow dress billowing in the breeze like Wordsworth’s daffodils) as she delicately stepped across the mud-strewn road on her way to Easter Sunday services at the local United Church, he was smitten. However, he was also tongue-tied for months with the fear of rejection, so it was down to Bev who, with boldness and confidence, alerted him and their friends to the fact that, “Syd and I are going steady”. From that day forward, and over the next 67 years, she taught him how to love and to be loved.
As their lives became more intertwined, they pushed back against the quotidian tide that threatens to overwhelm us all with its trivial pursuits and sought to take “the road less travelled”. Bev and Syd shared many dreams together (she in full colour, of course) but it was often down to her to bring a dream to life. Bev had the skill and patience to find a path, which would make the dream real if they were willing to take a chance. The risks were always well measured but one still required courage to fully embrace the choice. Thus, she enabled the purchase of their first home, joining a Unitarian Congregation, buying and selling a farm, traveling across Europe in an RV, Syd choosing to leave the printing trade and attend Trent University, and their walking holidays in Britain and Europe, to name a few.
Living is too precious to accept boredom as your lot in life and, for that reason, Bev was always up to the challenge of learning something new, particularly if it had a practical, thus useful, application. She learned to transcribe books in Braille after her brother Bill lost his sight. She also learned to sew and was a self-taught spinner, weaver, and knitter. Bev could take a raw fleece and clean it, spin it, hand dye it, and then knit it into a sweater. However, in the final decades of her life, her creative passion was reserved for quilting, a craft and an art form she excelled at, always in search of the “perfect stitch”.
Bev's hands were always moving. She was an artist with many talents, which she generously shared with family, friends, and the community. Her prize-winning quilts are testament to her willingness to experiment, her passion for colour, bold compositions, and her love of detail and embellishment rendered through appliqué and embroidery. When travelling, family members enjoyed searching for thread, buttons, and fabric for Bev’s “stash”. We had such fun searching for these items and took great delight in seeing them in her creations. Bev’s final gift was a quilted wall hanging for her brother Steve and sister-in-law Irene, which hangs over the fireplace in the centre of their home.
Perhaps the greatest challenge Bev took on was raising three children, Michael, Kim, and Graham. There may be some who believe parenting comes “naturally”, but Bev knew it was truly something one had to teach oneself through daily interaction with one’s children. Despite the worries and occasional doubt, Bev created a space for her children to take risks and allowed them to do things other parents may have frowned upon. She subscribed to the philosophy of “free-range parenting” long before the expression was coined, encouraging them to be creative and independent, all the while surrounding them with love. As the years flowed by “in a weary haze,” the wisdom of this approach was confirmed. Her admiration for her children grew along with their list of accomplishments as they found their paths into the future. It’s down to them to say if the job was well done, but Bev admired them even more as they, in turn, grew into their roles as parents, and she was so pleased to be blessed with two fine daughters-in-law, Barbara and Kathryn, and four grandchildren, Elijah, Lachlan, Kennisyn and Emma.
Bev also shared a passion for figure skating with Kim and Barbara. Despite knowing very little about the sport (Was that a triple axel?), it was an opportunity to be together and travel across Canada to the annual National Championships for almost 25 years. Completing craft projects in the stands while eating lots of treats was a must. A perfect day involved watching skating live at the arena and then scurrying back to the hotel to watch it all over again on television with the commentary and a glass of white wine.
Grandchildren held a special place in Bev’s heart. She enveloped them in love and laughter and never missed the chance to help out, attend birthdays, graduations, and family vacations. Annual trips to the cottage always involved reading to the kids, organizing crafts, games (Mexican Train!) and rainy day activities. We still have lots of little tie-dyed shirts we are unable to part with. We will cherish each and every one of Bev’s gifts for many years to come, including our Christmas stockings, now a long-held and eagerly anticipated family tradition.
One of Bev’s favourite expressions was: “Life is too short to knit with ugly yarn.” She worked tirelessly and passionately to make our world a more colourful, delightful, and beautiful place. We all feel blessed and fortunate to wrap ourselves in memories of Bev, just as her loving hands wrapped us in so many beautiful quilts, sweaters, shawls, hats and mittens.
Bev is survived by her husband, Syd; her three children, Michael (Barbara), Kimberly, & Graham (Kathryn); her brother, Steve (Irene); and her four grand grandchildren, Elijah, Lachlan, Emma and Kennisyn. Donations in memory of Bev can be made Hospice Peterborough and the Trans Canada Trail.
A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held in the spring.