In Loving Memory
REGO (nee Silva) Maria de Fatima
Jan 14, 1947 – Feb 22, 2009.
Surrounded by her family and friends Fatima Rego passed away in Burnaby General Hospital at the young age of 62. After battling cancer 3 times over the last 18 years, she finally came to rest peacefully. Fatima was born in Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal. She was the second youngest of 12 children. She moved with her family to Canada to begin a new life with great dreams. She married her best friend and love of her life, Jose Rego in 1970. They adored one another and spent every possible minute loving and caring for each other, holding hands until the last possible moment. Together, in Vancouver, they raised two children- Helena(David) and Michael. Fatima was a loving wife, mother, and cherished grandmother to Brianna(8), Daniella(5) and Alexandre(4). She will be deeply missed by her surviving siblings, Fernando, Fernanda, Helena, Miguel, and Jose. Fatima is predeceased by her parents Maria Helena and Manuel Silva, and sisters Eduarda, Germana, & Lourdes, and brothers Antonio, Denis & Manuel. She was also a proud Godmother and Aunt to many wonderful nieces and nephews whom she adored. Being with her family was always the most important thing to her. She will be deeply missed by her dear husband, children, grandchildren and family who will always remember her for her amazing courage, determination, strength and selflessness. She was a beautiful Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Godmother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Friend and an incredibly loved woman. Our hearts will never be the same. Prayers will be held on Sunday, March 1st at 6pm and the Funeral Mass on Monday, March 2nd at 10am at Our Lady of Fatima Parish (1423 E. 13th Ave, Vancouver BC). The burial will follow at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (3789 Royal Oak Avenue, Burnaby BC)
Eulogy povided By Daughter Helena Diogo
How is it possible to sum up the life of a mother, wife, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, cousin and friend?
There aren’t enough words to express her love, faith, devotion, strength, courage, determination, will, patience, forgiveness and compassion. She is a true hero. She has taught us how to be kind, accepting, grateful and at peace. She worked very hard for everything in life.
My deepest condolences go out to my dad and my brother. These were the two men in her life that she loved unconditionally. They had a bond which words could not express.
My dad was her best friend and love of her life. Loyal and Loving–married for almost 39 years. I can’t recall a time, occasion or situation where they weren’t standing at each other’s side. They were the true meaning of what every loving marriage should be. They communicated, sorted out differences and always thought of each other first. Their deep love and caring for one another could never die. You made her so happy by going on cruises, a couple of movie dates, drives to Kelowna, camping at the Glen, going on picnics, visiting family in the States and in Portugal, and taking your grandchildren to Disneyland. She laughed so hard when you took her on the quad bikes, when you went tubing as she sat in the boat, when you went in Brent’s plane and flew above were she was watching with her nieces and when you took her to the PNE. You took her out for dinners, and outings to the park. You did everything you could to keep her happy and laughing. Her last few years were filled with adventure. During her last battle, dad was literally at her side at home. She told us that he was the best nurse around. He would jump to his feet the moment she needed anything. He was never more than a few steps away. In the hospital, the care continued. No one could fluff her pillow or adjust her bed or feed her, like dad could. When she opened her eyes, she would search the room until their eyes met. Only then was she at ease. If he wasn’t right beside her, she would quickly remind him that she wanted him there, just in case she needed something…and of course he was; as there was no other place he would rather be. The fact that they held hands until the last possible moment, speaks worlds of how strong and deep their relationship was. Mom will always be in your heart and around you. Your love was mutual and will last forever.
The visible love that my brother had for her, was evident as well. He would shower her with kisses and hugs constantly. He would always tell her how cute she was and how much he loved her. During her last few days, she would often open her eyes and ask for “her michael”. Where’s “my michael” she would say; who of course was holding her hand or just a few steps away. Know that you have always held a very soft and special place in her heart. You made her laugh and smile. You gave her more teddy bears than I’ve ever seen. And with each one she felt all the love that came with it. You were only 11 years old when mom’s first sign of cancer appeared…and you have had to see her suffer since then. I can’t imagine the pain you’ve endured, but I’m sure it will be rewarded. Seeing the love you expressed to her when we stayed as a family in the hospital around the clock from Tuesday until Sunday, will be engrained in my mind. You taught me to be free with our emotions and share our feelings every chance we get. You talk about how she cared for you and fed you for so many years. But know that you gave 200% of everything you had during her last week. You showed her how much she meant to you. I know it broke your heart to see her in pain. But you were there telling her it was ok and constantly gave her hugs and kisses. You were there caressing her hand and holding it tight so she wouldn’t be scared. She will love you forever. I know she will always watch over you and help you in any way she can. When her heart stopped, it wasn’t the end of her, but a new beginning. She’ll always be alive in your heart.
My mom was born in Sao Miguel, the green island of the Azores, Portugal on January 14th, 1947. She was determined to move to Canada and arrived here in Vancouver with her parents in 1968. My mom and dad could not be separated for long, as in 1970 he chose to come to Vancouver, making a heart-breaking decision to leave all of his family in Portugal and the Eastern part of the United States to be with his true love. On July 25th of that same year, they were married. In October of 1971, I was born and in November of 1979 my brother was born. We lived a simple but extremely happy life, with so many gatherings, always surrounded with family and friends. My mom was number 11 out of 12 children, so we were engulfed with big family functions, which she loved. Despite the devastating losses of 6 of her siblings and her parents during her lifetime—the happy moments were celebrated and her losses never forgotten.
In 1991, the first sign of cancer appeared as a lump in her foot, after a steel pot was dropped on it, at work. Being a hard and loyal worker, she continued to work despite the enormous amount of pain she was enduring. 4 years later, the lump was diagnosed as sarcoma (a rare and fast spreading cancer), and the decision was made that she needed her leg amputated below the knee.
I always thought my mom was a strong person, but it was only after this operation that I would begin to see a strength that I could never have imagined. It was also a time that I realized that she was also still vulnerable like a young girl…who just had a little more life experience than I did. She clearly had a will to live and surpassed so many obstacles to begin her normal life again. Her prosthesis was something she dealt with each day, but it would not stop her from doing many of the things she did before.
In August 2000, she was able to meet her first granddaughter, Brianna, whom she adored. A few months after that at her last routine scan, she received news that her cancer had spread into both of her lungs. Before she broke the news to me, she had already confirmed that she would be going into surgery to remove the nodes, with faith that she would survive—as she of course wanted to spend more time with her granddaughter. The surgery was successful and her recovery was unbelievable. When the nurses asked her to blow into a tube 3 times, twice a day, to strengthen her lungs, she would double it. When they asked her to walk for 5 minutes, she’d triple it. There was no way she would miss seeing her granddaughter grow up. …And slowly her life went back to normal.
After this second major battle with cancer, she was blest with 2 more grandchildren: Daniella and Alexandre, which she adored. These 3 children gave her strength and courage. She wanted to be with them at all times. Her love for them was limitless.
Unfortunately, 6 years after her last chemotheraphy treatment ended, she was taken to emergency with sharp pains and shortness of breath; only to discover that the sarcoma was back in her lung. Only this time, it was inoperable due to size and location.
She was devastated. But, notwithstanding the inevitable, she continued to throw parties and celebrate with her family and friends. Even in the toughest of times, she would whip up delicious meals for a house full of people. She would sing and laugh. Together with dad, they were always the life of the party. She had a husband, children and grandchildren (her pride and joy) to be there as a constant reminder that she had to fight and conquer this once again.
In February of this year, 2009, her cancer had taken over her entire lung ..so much so that it pushed her heart towards the right side of her chest.
She spent 6 days in palliative care, surrounded by family and friends; who she wanted to hear talking and laughing. Even after the doctors told us that she wouldn’t make it through the night, she shocked everyone on the following day and lived for 3 more. On the Friday, she was sitting up on her own, eating on her own, recognizing and talking to everyone who visited. She was active and alert from 4:30 in the morning until 11 in the evening. When we told her to rest, she refused to close her eyes. She got to hug, smile and laugh with her grandchildren and tell them she loved them; and heard the same back from them. With a room overflowing with her family and friends, she even told us that this could be a party if we wanted, and she sat up tall and made a speech. She extended her arms and said, “Thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I really appreciate it”. Then she wanted everyone to clap with her. IMAGINE, a room full of people on the palliative care ward, in the hospital clapping and laughing with a woman who had been battling this horrible disease for 18 years!
This is how I will remember her. Never giving up! And living life to the absolute fullest.
It would break our hearts when she asked us how many days left until she could go home. I believe now that we misunderstood her; as on February 22nd, the exact day her mother died 20 years prior, she would also be going home into her mother’s arms—she just didn’t get to stop by the house first. My mom shed 2 tears before she passed…I believe one was when she knew she was dying and the other to say she’d miss us.
My mom was a vibrant, young woman. A mother and a best friend who I was honoured to live with and learn from. What a gift it has been to have you in our lives. Our faith grows deeper, knowing that now we need to live life as best we can, in order to be granted a place next to you one day. I’m sure in some way, you will still be the rock that we can turn to for strength.
Thank you to everyone for your unbelievable support. Your prayers, phone calls, emails, cards, messages…everything. We are so lucky to be able to say that she left us surrounded by her family and friends that loved and cherished her dearly. We can’t imagine going through this without all your support and love. I remember her telling me that the only thing she ever needed was prayer. So please, honour and respect her by saying a little prayer when she comes to mind. That’s what she would want.
I love you mom for everything you’ve done for us, shown us, shared with us and taught us. You were a woman with a will to live life to the fullest, with great determination, strength and selflessness. You’ve earned a peaceful place in heaven. I pray that God will lovingly embrace you with kindness and compassion. Keep us in your prayers, as you will be in ours. I can’t say goodbye, but I will hold you in my heart until I see you again.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
We all do.