I could not imagine that Theresa had any resources or energy left with which to do anything further. “What did you do, Theresa?”
“The other day, I grabbed as much produce as possible off the shelves from my store and brought it all down to be stored in the basement here at the house. Then, the next morning, I grabbed the keys to the store and walked out of the house. I told myself that I’d give the keys to the first person I encountered.”
“Omigod, Theresa. Did you actually do it?”
“Yes, I did. I met one of the women from Atlin and I handed her the keys. I told her the store was hers. Free.”
“She must have been dumbstruck,” I said.
“She was speechless. I had to coax her to take the keys. I told her I’d sign the papers with her and help her get started. But now they can’t take my store away and they can’t take my house away. From now on, I’ll earn my keep by giving room and board to a couple of people. They can pay me in ways other than giving me money. They can go and pay bills before my name is even on record.”
“And another thing,” she added. “I am volunteering actively again with the Ambulance crew. I really need to give back. I’m not up to flying a plane for Med-Evac, but I sure can be on board as an attendant.”
“Theresa, that is fantastic”. I was amazed she was able to take on that responsibility so soon. In fact, she became the Unit Chief for the Ambulance Service in that same year, 1987.
Our busy lives did not provide us an opportunity to visit in person. When the School Board next met in Atlin, I was thrilled over plans for a long-awaited visit. Unfortunately, Theresa had to attend a Hearing that was held in another location. We had no choice but to keep in touch through telephone and Canada Post.
In November of 1988, my contract in the Stikine School District was finalized. Before I returned to the Coast, we spoke on the phone. Theresa said, “Amy, I like the way you write. I’m asking if you would please consider writing my story.”
“I’d love to, Theresa, but I know so little about your family or your history. I’d need to know lots more about your life and your sons. Tell you what, you get a tape recorder and start talking. Do it a bit at a time, but tell me the stuff you would like to see in your book.”
“Okay, I’ll start doing that,” she promised.
Later in 1988, when I was on the Coast, she phoned. Her voice warned of sad news. “I have a couple of things to tell you, Amy, and I’m not sure how well I can do this. First, you wanted to know the Insurance company’s decision. My god, they put me through enough hearings to drive anyone insane. But I won’t receive any money from them.” She paused. “But here’s why I really called. Dick died.” With that she broke down and, thankfully, would not hang up.
Eventually, she was able to talk. She spoke of her last few months with Dick. I remember the sadness in her voice when she said, “For a long time, the only way I’ve been able to comfort him was to hug him from behind. He couldn’t tolerate anyone being in his ‘air space’. He would panic. I missed his hugs so much.”
Towards the end of the conversation, the topic moved on to her sons and her life in general. She admitted she still had not recorded any details about her life. I said, “You know, Theresa, I didn’t ask you one really important thing about your story. What will be its title? ”
“Oh, that’s easy. Call it “Daughter Theresa”. We enjoyed sharing the memory of a softer time when, as two women breaking into a rich new friendship, we worked together in a blizzard, talking about Mother Teresa and preparing her beloved Beaver so she could fly home to her loved ones.
“When you’re ready and can do some recording, send me a tape,” I said. “Keep reading those “Daily Promises” and keep remembering that I love you.”
“I won’t forget. May the gods be with you”, she said.
I never received a recording. My friend, La Femme Fatale D’Ame of Northern Bush Pilots, Theresa Bond, was not done with death. This time she was the passenger. The plane hit a mountain and no one survived. The last communique broke my heart:
On May 4, 1990
In the Line of Duty
Chief Theresa Bond – Emergency Medical Assistant II
Theresa Bond, 42, was the Unit Chief at the Atlin station in northwestern British Columbia when she died in a plane crash en route to a Unit Chiefs’ meeting in Smithers. Theresa joined the BCAS in 1980 and became the Unit Chief in Atlin in 1987. Sadly, Theresa’s husband Dick died only 2 years earlier due to illness. She left three sons in their late teens and early 20’s, Brendan, Alexander, and Peter.
Postscript to Brendan, Alex and Peter: I did not have the opportunity or the pleasure of meeting you. When your mother spoke of you, I heard a mother full of love and respect for all your accomplishments and unfolding talents.
I have no photos of your mother and could find none on the Internet. She never mentioned any changes to her facial features following the accident on Dease Lake. Since there was no photograph accompanying the notice of her death, I suspect she did not allow one to be taken for the Ambulance Service. If you discover this article, and deem it worthy of your family’s acceptance, I would be delighted to add a photo of your choice to its contents.
While it is only hearsay, and I add this cautiously since the North holds many tales, an ex-Northerner told me that your mother did enter into a relationship with an artist in Atlin during the last year or so of her life. Having met Dick Bond and knowing the incredible personality of this man, I have no doubt he would approve heart and soul. I can only hope you did, too.
As a respectful and loving friend of your mother, I confess a deep wish for her: Out of all the despair, the grief, the struggles and the soul wrenching administrative hassles that your mother had to undergo, may she have experienced a love that rose from the ashes of tragedy and filled her final days beyond measure. May she have had one last opportunity to love deeply as a woman of worth and deep value.
( ****Addendum: In May of 2015, Theresa was honoured for her service as a Paramedic in our Province: https://souldipper.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/for-theresa-bond-the-unveiling-of-a-memorial/)