An Infinite Capacity to Give

Posted on July 26, 2016 under Storytelling with no comments yet

Donna Lydon (2)

Taking care of business… right till the end


“If I ever needed anything done with a hammer and a saw, Donna arrived with her own tools … and a smile.”

Donna Lydon was a doer.

A woman of incredible energy, Donna gave everything thing she had to her family, her students, the many charities she supported and to the community at large. She did these things with distinction; demonstrating an unbelievable level of commitment and competence second to none. She was a perfectionist in the best sense of the word.

She could be mischievous as well. As a youngster, she would play cards with the family after doing the supper dishes, a few decades of the rosary and homework. Seeing that some of her elders used Gaelic to possibly gain advantage, she and a few siblings taught themselves some French in an attempt to get the upper hand at the card table … an early sign of her playfulness and joie de vivre. Later in life, she and Jack frequently travelled to the States to spend time with friends. According to a dear friend and shopping companion, “When you played cards with Donna, there was no messing up on the game. The rules were the rules!”

She was revered by her peers at school. “I know very few people as swift to offer help, so quick to volunteer, and to follow through patiently and consistently to the end in whatever was needed.  In our work together, no one could have had a finer, more generous, more reliable, committed and supportive colleague,” remembers a lifelong friend.

Her students thought she was pretty special too, especially those who may have stepped outside the margins. “I look back on her as an inspiration, inside an institution where I otherwise felt I didn’t belong. I remember her encouraging words, her gentle voice, her lovely humour, her giant heart and her always smiling face.”

According to one of her principals, and a brother to boot (!), she was as much a guidance counsellor as she was a business teacher. “In all of her years of teaching, she never sent a student to the office.” Donna was a superior listener and was blessed with common sense and empathy.

She loaned her significant time and talents to a number of local charities. She was one of those who worked tirelessly to get the CARE Van for Antigonish. Despite her track record for raising money, when it came to the CARE van Donna took her marching orders from Peggy “A.B.”  I’ll make the calls,” said Peggy. “You won’t be doing that anymore.” Donna was also a stalwart member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Family always came first. When her mother ended up in the nursing home, she faithfully stopped by every night to administer “Donna’s Tuck-in Service.”  The sun rose and set on her grandson, Phoenix, and her love for her husband Jack and her daughter Kim was deep and unconditional.

Donna loved the birds that frequented the back deck at the house. One day, near the end of her long siege with cancer, Donna was resting.  Jack found a birdfeeder and created a small paradise out back for her, adding the laughter of running water and the beauty of shrubs and flowers. When she woke from her sleep, she was astonished to see the transformation in front of her. Love flowed easily between Donna and Jack, her life’s partner.

The grief and sense of loss is palpable. We echo the sentiments of a friend and colleague who said, “I can only say that I am much diminished; bereft by her loss. She was, in the real sense of the word, an extraordinary lady.”

“Favorite people, favorite places, favorite memories of the past,

These are the joys of a lifetime; these are the things that last.”

Henry van Dyke


Donna's paradise


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