On December 20th, 1978, my parents – Ihor and Marijka Prokipchuk – welcomed the first of their four children into the world – a little girl, whom they named Tetyana Olena. My mother was in her final year at the University of Toronto and my father – a new immigrant from Ukraine – had just moved from working on the assembly line at Dempster’s Bakery to a temporary cash-and-carry job with the Ukrainian Business Association.
Immediately following the Christmas break – less than two weeks after Tetyana was born – my mother returned to her full-time studies to complete her undergraduate degree, running from one end of campus to the other, breast milk soaking through her clothes and freezing solid in the cold January air. That spring, my father began working for Trident Fuel, a small heating and cooling business, where he worked around the clock, cleaning furnaces and learning the trade. They took it all in stride, bolstered by the all-encompassing love they felt for the new little person in their lives – enamored with her darling wisps of dark hair, her deep brown eyes and her contagious little smile.
Like all families, over the years we experienced wonderful highs and some inevitable and evitable lows. Nothing, however, prepared us for the events of late winter, 2012.
On Saturday, March 10th, my mother’s mother, Catherine Loyko, died of complications from an emergency surgery she had earlier in the week to repair a tear in her stomach caused by a sudden and rare gastric volvulus.
The following weekend, in the afternoon on Sunday, March 18th, two police officers came to our family home and announced that Tetyana had died that morning, sometime between 3 and 4 o’clock.
There is so much to say, but using words, alone, to express how I feel and how this has changed our family and my outlook on life (and my relationship with myself and my husband and peers and colleagues and everything and everyone else imaginable in this universe, etc., etc.) feels inadequate. And even if I could use words to capture and articulate it all, I am not sure I would – not here, anyway. This blog has a very specific role, and it is to help build, document and share Tetyana’s bucket list with family and friends so that we can use The List as a tool to help us face both the acute stages of grief as well as the rest of our lives without Tetyana. Further, this section is intended to offer just enough information so that other readers who might happen upon this site can know who ‘Tetyana’ of ‘Tetyana’s List’ is. You will all get to know her better, I suspect, through the other posts on this site.
I will conclude with a small collection of photos and Tetyana’s obituary, published in the Toronto Star on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012.
TETYANA OLENA PROKIPCHUK Of Toronto, passed away suddenly on Sunday, March 18, 2012, at 33 years of age. Precious, darling first born daughter of Ihor and Marijka Prokipchuk. Very deeply loved sister of Christyna (and husband Aaron Steacie), Ostap and Matviy, and very special aunt of Lev Steacie. Recently predeceased by her grandmother, Catherine Loyko, Tetyanka’s innocent soul is now resting peacefully in the eternal, loving embrace of her compassionate Babcia. Tetyana was a very passionate young woman who worked very hard at the things she loved most and excelled at everything she put her mind to. She loved cats, debating, reading, walking for miles, cooking (especially varenyky and other Ukrainian dishes), and watching movies and spending special moments with her closest and dearest brother and friend, Matviyko. Tetyana selflessly devoted her life to helping those whom she cared deeply for, even when she had little to give. She will be dearly missed by all whose lives she touched, including her Aunt Lisa (and husband Gord) Baker, cousins Emily and Lara, godparents Andrij and Natalka, and her most devoted girlfriends Lida and Julia. Other close family and friends, including those special guests who enjoyed her lovely company and good food at her B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, will always remember Tetyana’s beautiful smile and heartfelt laughter. Tetyana is resting at the Cardinal Funeral Home, 92 Annette St. Visitation Thursday, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Panachyda at 7:30 p.m.. Funeral Mass Friday, 10:00 a.m. at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church (4 Bellwoods Ave.). Interment will follow at Park Lawn Cemetery. In Tetyana’s loving memory, donations to the Jean Tweed Centre for women and the MS Society of Canada are appreciated. Vichnaya Pamyat!