Â THE WILSON FAMILY
By Ellen Voth
“I can still hear Milt’s voice “I don’t want Holly forgotten.”
Holly Dale Wilson was born August 10, 1965, seventh child to Milton and Myrtle Wilson, a surprise twin to brother Clark Wilson. She graced Kelowna and KDSCL with her presence for almost 20 years before passing away June 7, 2011.
Recently, Charisse and I had the pleasure of meeting with Mrs. Wilson for tea and to learn a little about what made Holly who she was.
Myrtle Wilson grew up during the depression, her own father passing away when she was only ten. She grew up quickly with her three brothers and eventually she became a teacher. She took a teaching job in Grandview, WA, where she had her own apartment.
“They were organizing a new Lutheran Church there in Grandview. They had this single pastor coming, and I said “Why don’t you just let him have my apartment?” (I didn’t stay there for the summer). Milton was already telling the people he wasn’t going to give up the apartment; he would just marry the girl. We got married a year later.”
The Wilsons had five children before having Clark, and 17 minutes later, Holly.
Mrs. Wilson notes “When we first realized that she had Down Syndrome, we didn’t tell the others. We wanted them to love her first. We never did tell them, they eventually just knew.”
The family came to Canada and lived in Morris, Manitoba, Edmonton, Alberta and eventually Lethbridge, where Mr. Wilson worked for Indian Affairs teaching at the reserve, driving a hundred mile round trip daily.
He loved getting behind the steering wheel and just driving.
Mrs. Wilson was very involved with advocacy, visiting with parents of other handicapped children who’d never had contact with another parent.
“I was known as Holly’s mom, not Mrs. Wilson or Myrtle. I’d take Holly swimming; I always did the same with her as we did with the others. This one girl just kept staring at her and of course Holly would know it. I finally said to her “That’s Holly. She wasn’t born as lucky as you, but she sure does like to have friends.”
When Holly and Clark were in school, Mrs. Wilson worked at the Sears store in the Men’s Department.
“That was important for me, I had something besides just taking care of kids.”
Holly attended regular school. Mrs. Wilson notes that “Holly wasn’t all sweetness, she was stubborn.” One day Clark came home so mad and said “You don’t sit in on the step outside the classroom, you go in!” Holly had refused to go into the classroom that day.
Holly rode the City Bus to a job in Lethbridge.
“The handicapped went to the back of the bus, but Holly liked to sit at the front where it was quieter. One bus driver that I guess didn’t like Holly very much told her to go to the back, but she sat where she wanted to sit. One day she said that seat had been folded up. He [the bus driver] pushed her so she had to go to the back. I called up City Hall, I wanted to talk to the City Manager. Milton was sitting there taking this all in, he’d never seen me this angry. They said “He’s going to retire in a month or so [the bus driver]“; I said “I don’t care, I want him off that bus that Holly uses. They wanted to know which two buses she took. They would see that he was never on this bus again. I was glad I did it instead of Milton. I got quite a few phone calls that day asking questions; they hadn’t heard from me before.
Before they came to Kelowna, the family made inquiries about services here. Holly was given the choice of attending at Wedding Bells and Baskets but she chose to attend activity services because she wanted to do different things and be with everyone, not just women. Through the years Holly wrote many poems and a few stories and even a play. She loved Little House on the Prairie and Murder She Wrote. She loved to read the Bible, and did lots of different crafts, latch hook and embroidery. The family played lots of board and card games.
“Milton would tease her and cheat, she knew. She let him know if she didn’t approve of what he was doing. I think she had a good life. She was certainly loved and certainly gave, she loved everybody.”
Mr. Wilson did not want Holly forgotten, and to that end Myrtle has honoured her husband’s wishes and made a generous donation to the KDSCL (Now Pathways) New Building Fund in memory of Holly. We are so very grateful to the Wilsons for not only entrusting KDSCL to enrich Holly’s life when they moved to Kelowna, but for choosing to remember Holly in such a way that many who use KDSCL’s services will benefit from it.
Holly’s gentle nature, creativity and faith will not be forgotten.
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