Justin Alfred Leonard Ling. age 85, won’t be shopping at Eaton’s tomorrow.
As long as any of us can remember, that was Mom’s sly and gentle euphemism for the final curtain in life, and it seems fitting that we announce Dad’s passing that way. He’d appreciate the opportunity to make us smile one more time through our tears.
Justin was born May 2, 1923, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. A skilled pilot, he was selected by the R.C.A.F. to train airmen during the war, both in Canada and in England.
Before he went overseas, he and his pals attended a Saturday night dance near their training base in Edmonton. It was a fateful evening. He met a girl - Mary Lou Hutton - and walked her home. The next day he joined her and her family for Sunday dinner before boarding the train for Montreal and the boat that would take him overseas.
For two years, he had no contact whatsoever with Mary. On returning to Canada, he boarded a train bound for Edmonton, where he hunted down the girl he’d met, found her, and proposed marriage. They had known each other less than eight hours.
In October of last year, Mary and Justin celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.
While Dad’s accomplishments stand on their own - a 25 year career as a fighter pilot trainer with the Canadian Armed Forces, followed by a second career as owner of a successful small real estate company, Ling Realty - it is impossible to talk about Justin Ling without in the same breath talking about his life-long friend, partner, and wife, Mary. The two were quite literally inseparable - golfing together, curling together, raising a family, running a business, bickering, laughing, mercilessly teasing one another, travelling side-by-side through a rich and textured life; two halves of a beautiful whole.
When Mom began sinking into the insidious mire that is Alzheimer’s, Dad never wavered. He patiently cared for her - making her meals, sitting with her, still teasing her, but more often gently guiding her through what must sometimes have been excruciating conversations as her memories began to falter and fade. Through it all, he shrugged off his own battles with lung cancer and age.
When Mom’s care became too much for one person, the family found her a place in the Betel Home in Gimli, where she lives today. His job done, Dad’s illnesses took over. His final battle with cancer was mercifully short.
Justin Ling was - and he would tell you this - a wonderfully imperfect man. He smoked, he drank, he swore. But he was generous, playful, funny, strong, and an irrepressible tease. He taught six children about the value of family and the power of fierce and devoted love, lessons we still hold dear and try our best to practice in our lives.
Justin is survived by his wife, Mary, and five children: Denise Wheeler (Robert), Kathryn Naud (Claude), Barbara Kelman (Craig), Nils (Joyce), and Andrea Campbell (Peter). Our brother Justin (Margaret) was taken from us earlier this year. Justin’s sister Barbara Fowler and his brother Nils F. Ling both live in BC and share our loss.
We are grateful for our time with Dad, and for the time he spent delightedly teasing every one of his many grandchildren, all of whom adored him and who share in his legacy of love.
For a tribute to Justin and Mary, including the inspiring story of their love, please visit http://truthsandhalftruths.typepad.com/family. It's in development now but should be in good shape in a day or so ...
My deepest thanks to all of you who have expressed your condolences. This has been a tough time, and your good wishes boost me more than you can know.