By Priest Andrey Somov
On New Year’s Eve, my dear Mother Tatiana M. Somov, peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. She lived a very long and productive life. After her death, I heard some people say that she was indeed the “Last of the Mohicans” of Pre-Revolution Russia. This is true, for she was born in 1901, raised and educated during the Czar’s Russia, left her homeland as a refugee in 1920, and had lived as a Russian Emigrant, for the most part, in what was formerly Czechoslovakia, before coming to Canada.
It was late in November of 1985, when my wife Henriette and I met her at the Vancouver International Airport. She arrived on a domestic flight from Montreal, where she had spent the day with the family of her older son Alexei. Due to the fact that she was almost blind because of cataracts, she relied heavily on her white cane while being escorted out of the plane by a flight attendant. This is the way it was when we finally met again after 17 years apart. At that time, my family and I were already well established in Canada. We came to Canada as refugees, having fled Czechoslovakia in 1968, while the country was being occupied by Soviet forces. I worked for the Canadian Government in Vancouver, and had sponsored my mother when she became a widow in 1984.
Canada was a real blessing for my elderly mother. During her first year here she got rid of the cataracts. Dr. Harvey Wiebe performed the surgery in Surrey, after which she received a second chance at living a productive life. Suddenly, she was able to read again, and to follow news broadcasts on TV, of which she had been deprived a few years prior to her arrival. She was also now able to admire the wonderful scenery in BC. Soon after, she made several friends, particularly within our Russian Community in Vancouver, as well as in the neighbourhood. She enjoyed the Divine Services at our Russian Orthodox Church in Vancouver, which she attended whenever we were present. She also had the opportunity to visit Expo 1986, and actually got the chance to see the whole world gathered together in one place. My mother became a Canadian Citizen in September 1989. One can say that it was almost like a gift for her 88th birthday. She began to enjoy her new life, which was filled with exploration, excitement, the goodwill of people around her, and love.
But as time progressed, my mother grew older and became very fragile. After having several falls while in her late nineties, she became disabled. In 1996, she fractured her left hip, and in 1998, the right one. The second fracture was especially severe, having spent seven weeks at Vancouver General Hospital. During this time she lost a lot of weight and almost died. Thank God she survived this ordeal, and was admitted to the Brock Fahrni Extended Care facility in Vancouver. In November 1999, I retired as a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Vancouver. I took my mother out of Vancouver and brought her to Surrey, where my family has lived for many years. She was admitted to the Surrey Memorial Hospital Extended Care Unit and later moved into the Dainard Pavilion on June 1, 2000.
My mother had spent the last two and a half years of her long life in this facility. The nursing staff strove to provide her the best care possible so as to keep her happy and comfortable while maintaining a sense of dignity. My mother was over 101 years old when she fell asleep in the Lord on December 31, 2002. She almost reached the age of the Queen Mum, whom, she admired so very much.
May God be merciful to her soul, and may her memory be eternal!