Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Sister - A Tribute

Click here for my sister's obituary November 2, 2013.

We laid my sister to rest today in an extraordinarily joyful ceremony. It was an emotional day for her extended loving family. There were laughs and tears, many, many hugs and promises of keeping in touch.  We were missing some people due to travel, illness and other extenuating circumstances. On the other hand , many other interesting bonds were forged.

For me, it was astounding to see the impact she had on people that I wouldn't ordinarily have contact with; her colleagues, neighbours and  business associates.
Speeches were made, tears dried, toasts proposed and many of the world's problems solved.

My cousin, Laura did a eulogy
Laura’s eulogy for Ursula, November 7th, 2013

Hello, my name is Laura O’Connell, Ursula was my cousin.
When Brian first asked me late last night, if I would like to say a few words today about Ursula, I thought, how do you capture so many memories in 10 minutes…I need more time.
This morning I got up and imagined myself in Ursula’s living room at her house on Chedoke avenue. We were sitting by the big bay window in her living room, and the sun was beaming in, it was a beautiful day.  I could see Ursula as clear a day, smiling, and in her calm matter of fact kind of voice, saying, “so, what did you want to talk to me about”? I replied by saying, what should I say about you, and she said, what do you mean? Well, to eulogize you…Ursula smiled at me with her usual grin, paused in thought, laughed and said, well, only the good stuff of course…
So, here I am today, with only good stuff to say about Ursula. When I think of Ursula, I only think of and have good things to say about the kind of person she was, her core, her fundamental existence. For those of you who knew Ursula, she was a kind soul, clever, very thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, very humble, considerate, a friend, a confidant, at times, very opinionated, but inclusive to all people she encountered. Ursula, always had an extra place setting for you and yours at her table in life!  I could always trust Ursula for an honest opinion. She didn’t always tell you what you wanted to hear, but at the end of the day, what you got was very honest advice, and a reliable opinion.
Ursula was my cousin, but she was so much more than that to me in many ways, she was like a sister, a friend, someone I could talk to, she was very approachable. Growing up, she always kept in touch with me even despite our 11 years in age difference. When she went to Nigeria, I wrote to her, and within a couple of weeks I always got a letter back with the most interesting stories. When she was back studying for her PHD at McGill, I often met her for dinner on Prince Arthur street, as I worked part-time for the bank downtown. I would talk to her about stuff I would never tell my own Mother, and she listened like a big sister and gave loving and caring advice. Ursula was exceptionally instrumental in showing me how to use the conventional oven. Called her one day and dropped in to her apartment on Milton to say hello. I had brought sandwiches, and went to heat up the sandwhiches I had brought, the oven was loaded with dirty dishes. I thought, now that is brilliant, what a great idea!!
Ursula will be missed in the days to come, she loved her children, Caitlin and Brennan dearly, she worried about them, that they would be ok. She asked me a few years ago, if anything happens to me, Laura, will you be there for my children. I said of course, but I thought that this was a strange request. She loved Brian, her exceptionally supportive partner, she loved her sister Jackie and brother in law John, and she was a fantastic aunt to my Daughter Anais, always checking in on her, doing something special for her at xmas or her birthday, but was always thinking about her. We all had many wonderful times, the Christmas dinners, the Barbeques, the walks and talks, but most of all, let us remember all the laughter.
Life throws some very hard curve balls to us sometimes, very unexpected. Losing someone in life that you truly love is hard, painful, and difficult to understand.
What I ask from all of you today. As you leave this place, please walk away and hold onto a memory that you have of Ursula, the Ursula that was a kind soul to all who knew her, and I would ask that you hold tight those memories that put a smile on your face, when you think about Ursula,… that is the way she would have liked to be remembered.

Rest in peace, dear sister.

You and Fergal will have many walks along the golf course.

You can click to view a snippet of her wonderful life.


  1. Hi Jackie,

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your sweet sister, Ursula. Your tribute to her birth, her extraordinary life and the love of her family and friends, is beautiful. I watched in admiration, a family, so closely knit and happily tied together; the joy of life, itself. Thank you for presenting some of the special and memorable moments of Ursula's wonderful life. May she rest in peace.


  2. Although a stranger to your family, it is obvious from the memorial what a close knit group you are and how much your sister will be missed. She seemed to have led a very full life. It was a beautiful memorial with such evocative music. A very fitting tribute.

  3. HI Jackie , so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister , your tribute to Ursula is wonderful , You are a very close knit family and your sister will be very much missed by all. Take care Anne ,


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