Wendy knew when the chemotherapy failed that she only had a limited time
left, and so she and Greg and her family talked about what she wanted
for her funeral. She even made a start on writing her eulogy. Here is
what she wrote:
"Wendy was born on a cold January day in 1969. Her mother was in Saint
Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver for something else. So Wendy
decided to take advantage of the situation and be born there & then.
Wendy turned out to be good at planning most things. The doctors called
her father and asked if he'd like to come and meet his new daughter.
John said he remembers how cold it was because he slipped on the ice
coming out of the hospital. Wendy was the second daughter for Fran and
John. Janice was already at home and they were joined a couple of years
later by Kelli who was born after the family moved to Prince George, BC.
"Changes in the family eventually brought Fran and the girls to Langley
BC where Wendy started school. Wendy was always a successful student;
earning many awards and accolades.
"The family moved again. This time to Richmond where Wendy completed all
her schooling. After high school, Wendy took a travel agent course at
the recommendation of her mother and one of her mom's travel agent
Fran had always had a travel bug and she passed it on to Wendy."
That's as far as she got though. Greg tried continuing it from that
She went to travel agent school, met Dan Anderson there and
married him shortly after, worked in vacation travel at Woodward's and
eventually switched to business travel with Marlin, which was bought by
Thomas Cook, which was bought by American Express. Three companies, one
desk. She did really well at business travel, of course, usually earning
Wendy and Dan moved around a lot... Driving around the Lower Mainland
with her, she would point out many different places she had lived.
Eventually they bought a townhouse in Surrey, which many of us remember.
Wendy and Dan seperated not long after this point, and Wendy started
using a BBS called MindLink, which is where I met her. She also met Greg
Goss there. Greg wrote this about that time:
"She met Greg over Christmas break in 1994 on a late night
"Darkside" chat on Mindlink. Greg and Wendy broke up and got back
together a few times after her separation from Dan, including the trip
to get to know Greg's mother in Kelowna in May. On the return trip
through the Hope slide, Greg picked up a pair of rocks that Wendy's
perceptive eye noticed were two halves of a single rock, though they
were scattered a hundred yards apart.
"On Halloween of 95, Greg gave her one of these rock halves
inspired by the "I got a rock" quote from the Peanuts special. He said
that if they got together they could put the rock back together, too.
Astonishingly, Wendy thought that was one of the most romantic things
anyone had ever given her, and they were a couple again - this time
permanently. Greg moved in the following May, immediately considered
himself married, and always considered the September 1996 trip
to New Orleans and Biloxi as the honeymoon."
Wendy and Greg bought an appartment in North Vancouver, the first of
many places they would live in together. Wendy was also able to start
working from home.
Greg surprised Wendy by proposing to her at her birthday party the day
she turned 30, January 17th, 1999. They were married that October and
had the official honeymoon in Paris.
Around the start of 2002, Wendy decided on a change of career path, and
started moving into training over just call center work. She used her
miscellaneous college credits towards certification, took some more
courses, and in 2003 accepted a job doing training for American Express
Corporate Travel in Toronto. This was just after she and Greg had
purchased a townhouse in Surrey and rebuilt the kitchen. She and I drove
across the country over the course of five days, with Greg to follow
once his employment with BC Rail ended due to privatization. After four
months in Toronto, Wendy flew back to Vancouver, and she made that
cross-country drive AGAIN, this time with Greg.
And then layoffs hit AmEx as well, and Wendy's position was eliminated
when much of the training department was cut back. Her 16 year run with
AmEx came to an end. Wendy and Greg decided to return to the left coast.
Not long after their return, Wendy applied for a position with ATCO
Travel in Calgary. Her interview was successful, and she was hired. In
fact, even before she started working, ATCO offered her additional
responsibilities, and so she began work as the manager of ATCO's Calgary
business travel office. Within five months, they had promoted her to
National Co-ordinator of Training for the travel division.
Unfortunately, the promotion didn't become official before Wendy became ill.
Wendy was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, with surgery and several
courses of radiation treatment through the winter. She would joke about
piercings and tattoos - the surgery scars and the three green dot
tattoos used to align the beams for the radiation treatments. The
treatment was successful, and after five years she was pronounced
Starting in August of 2004, Wendy had begun having recurring pain in her
"stomach". A clinic doctor in Toronto diagnosed this as an ulcer and
told her to avoid stress and eat mild foods. She siezed on this
diagnosis, ignoring her own doubts about a recurrence of the 1997 cancer.
Labour Day of 2005, pain and complications from the "ulcer" landed Wendy
in hospital. Doctors determined that the "ulcer" was actually a mass
growing in and through her intestine. Wendy named the mass "George". She
was referred to the Alberta Cancer Clinic and was scheduled for surgery
to remove the mass. Unfortunately, before that surgery could happen,
George caused a rupture in Wendy's intestine which resulted in two
surgeries and six weeks in the hospital.
The surgeries and ensuing treatments kept her off her feet for most of
the rest of the year. Chemo was started in December 2005, but was not
Because of previous radiation treatment and the failed chemotherapy,
treatment options were limited. "Plan B" at that point was making Wendy
comfortable, and face whatever comes with peace and dignity. And Wendy's
organizational skills came to the fore again, as she made plans for
what would happen after, with Greg and her mother Fran and her family.
The months and even years everyone was hoping she would have left didn't
happen. The end, when it came, came fast, and she left us on Tuesday,
These are all facts, events in the life of someone we care about, but I
don't think they were why she wanted me to speak today. Wendy and I were
very good friends. I knew her about as well as a person can know another
person, I think. I was there for a lot of the events recounted in this
telling, such as Greg's proposal, which happened in mine and Geri's
dining room, and one of the cross-Canada drives. She and I shared much
of the same world-view, especially with regard to enjoying life at every
opportunity. Our sense of humor is very similar as well, or at least she
laughed at a lot of my dumb jokes.
It didn't take in-depth knowledge for Wendy to make a positive mpression
with people, though. Even in the short time she was at the Calgary ATCO
office, the people there were impressed by her work ethic and positive
attitude, and many of them came to visit her on one of her last lucid
days, the Saturday just before she left us. When her friends heard her
time was running out faster, many posted rememberances of her and how
she had affected them.
Wendy was a truly good person. She wanted to help people, which is part
of why she wanted to become a trainer.
An example of this is the tragedy that happened on September 11th, 2001.
Many people were directly affected by that terrorist attack, but
especially people whose planes were grounded immediately after. Wendy
volunteered to take emergency calls from stranded travellers, working 12
hour days for the few days immediately afterwards.
In her livejournal for that day, she wrote "Everyone I talked to today
had their own reaction to the events of the day... they ranged from
stunned to outraged to frightened. It gave me a great sense of
accomplishment to get into the middle of every callers personal mess and
create clarity out of their confusion." That sort of thing is what
brought Wendy the most joy, helping others. If there was something she
could do to help, especially to help a friend, she would do it. Even up
to trying to violate immigration laws...
Greg's toast to the bride on their wedding day reflects this:
"I will focus on something that I thought of as a flaw for several years.
"Wendy cares too much. If someone's bus ticket to their job interview in
Whistler got screwed up, she can't ignore him because "just think how
horrible it would be if it were true." If a friend needs a loan
co-signed, or even if a friend needs something delivered when we have a
car and they don't.
"I can't remember her turning down a request for babysitting, even when
we were hosting a New Year's party. Was this collecting favours for
future payback? No, just a double whammy of empathy. The kid's mother
needs a day off from time to time, and hasn't had a New Year's in how
long? ... and "just think how horrible it would be if a child thought
that they were unwanted". Wendy cannot turn this off. If someone is
having a rotten day, so is Wendy. And she will do whatever she can to
make that person's day go better.
"Sometimes it can be difficult to live with someone who can internalize
the problems with everyone else's day. But what is the alternative?
Could I live with someone who didn't feel other people's pain? Would I
want to? I don't think so."
Some random snippits from the memorials I mentioned, about how Wendy
liked to help:
Amy wrote "Thank you for taking me to fufill one of the only wild and
risky tings I have ever done in my life... flying out to Indianapolis to
meet a fellow geek named Mark, who I'd still love to run away with. You
And in fact she helped other folk persue romance, myself included. More
Lauri~ wrote, about another such occassion, "The first person I met out
here of Dennis' friends. There was no hesitation or questioning, as soon
as we said we were in love, you were there and supportive. You enabled
me to the take the one biggest, most successful risk of my life."
Geri listed a number of times when Wendy had been helpful, including
saying, "one of the few events surrounding my father's passing that
isn't largely a blur is the gathering at your place the night before the
funeral. With friends like you to lean on, I knew I could get through
Lynette wrote, "For the most part I remember the lightness in my heart
which came when [Wendy and Greg] came through the door at a party.
Wendy's wonderful mind and spirit cause even the liveliest party to
become that much brighter. Much of the laughter and silliness originated
in whatever corner she was sitting in, but also much of the sense and
reason. Many times my frivolous mind has been made more sensible by a
few calm thoughts from her."
Which reminds me of the other major facet of Wendy's personality, her
sense of fun. Some of her favourite music was parodies by Weird Al
Yankovic, or Tom Lehrer, and she enjoyed several cartoons, like The Tick
and Invader Zim. In fact she named her car after a character from The
Tick. I think giving things names makes them more friendly and
accessible, and naming the growth in her abdomen George was a classic
She would be able to crack a joke in even the most drastic situation,
like the various legal fallout from our effort to break international
immigration law, or during either of her major illnesses.
Misty reflected on this aspect of Wendy's personality as well, writing,
"Wendy will always be a part of my thoughts, working with her at both
Amex and Atco was just amazing. The joy and happiness she brought to the
office and making every day a great day to be at work."
Another coworker, Barb, wrote "How fortunate any one of us is to be able
to call you 'friend'. To have you as a colleague was an honour - even
bunking together and claiming neither of us snores! Your love of working
in travel, your appreciation of a job well done and your willingness to
share your knowledge awakened with in others a new appreciation for
one's own skills. You are an unselfish colleague with a true internal
and external customer service spirit."
Wendy did indeed love working in travel, especially as it let her do
more travelling. She had a globe with pins in all the places she had
been to, which has been recreated in map form by her sister Kelli, and
is here on the wall.
Another coworker, Heidi, was one of the ATCO staff who visited Wendy on
her last Saturday, and wrote, "I am blessed to have been able to see
Wendy on Saturday. What a gift that was. Although her outward appearance
was different, I could still see the "Wendy" spirit shining through. I
admire her and from the short time I have known Wendy, I learned
patience and understanding and can honestly say that I am a better
person for having her be part of my life."
Flor, another coworker, wrote, "I'm going to miss you Wendy..you were my
friend , my coworker , my mentor. I thank-you for all the memories that
we shared while working at Marlin Travel and Amex and I thank-you for
always being there for me when I needed a friend.
"Most of all I will miss your witty humour, and your guidance and advice."
Josie, a friend of Wendy's from LiveJournal, wrote, "Wendy is one of the
very few people who have ever been there for me when I was at a point in
life where I was so desperate for help that I had no way out....and if
it would've not been for her, I would've been in more trouble than one
can imagine. She was my savior during this time.
"Unfortunately I haven't known Wendy but maybe two years, but I believe
fate sent her my way, cause it became apparent very fast that she is
someone I would look up to. I admire her spirit, her love and care, and
that she never gives up....neither on herself nor on others. I love her
sense of humor and the way she makes even sticky situations sound light
"Wendy, I hope that you know how much you are loved. Not only by me but
by all your friends and family. And I hope that this love will give you
wings, so "travelangel" can travel on as the angel she is on her new
Travelangel was the name she used on LiveJournal. This was the result of
a spellcheck seeing the typo "travel anget" and assuming the author,
Geri, meant something else. But it was VERY apropriate, and Geri left
the correction, and the nickname stuck.
Theresa, who started as a friend of Dan's, wrote, "I remember, it was in
1998, Wendy had come into my hospital room a day or two after my first
reconstructive hip surgery. [...] She walked through my room, looking
tentative and shy. "Wendy?" I asked. "Is that you?" I was surprised to
see her because at the time, she and Dan were no longer a couple. [...]
I knew she was hurt and held some resentment towards me for giving birth
to a baby girl eighteen months before. I didn't think Wendy liked me
anymore. "I heard you were here and thought I'd stop by for a visit. I
just came from the cancer clinic and so I brought you this." She leaned
over and showed me a small gold angel pin, then pinned it to my hopital
gown. "Thank you," I said. We talked I'm sure but I don't remember
anything else after that. Like an angel she was gone but the pin
remained. Sadly, my pin was taken with the old laundry but my memory is
as shiny and bright as that angel was the first day she gave it to me."
I have used other people's words where I could, because I wanted to show
the kind of impact Wendy had on the lives of everyone who came in
contact with her. This last quote is from someone who never actually met
Wendy, but saw how brightly did shine her spirit, as reflected in Greg's
words about her:
Huey wrote, "I see the way you've talked about her, and how wonderful a
person she was, and it strikes me that even if you're capable of
celebrating the fabulous gift that was your time with her, it is I, and
the other people who never met her, who should be feeling the profound
sense of loss. Here was another amazing person that most of the world
did not know, and will now never have the chance to beyond what you and
her other friends can tell us; the world has lost something precious,
even if what you see is how much a blessing was your time together.
"So maybe it's not you or her that people grieve for. Maybe it's
everyone else, who never had that blessing."