Family grapples with loss

Family gathering: (Top) Louise posed with her sister Linda and brothers Laurie and Chris 20 years ago at her mother’s 80th birthday celebration.

On a bleak winter day, five members of the Phillips family are sitting in a living room, trying to come to grips with a devastating loss. 

Trying to articulate their grief over the death of their mother and sister-in-law Louise Phillips.

In voices often choked with tears, they share their memories, their pride and their love for the woman they have lost far too soon.

In Salmon Arm now because of his mother’s death last Friday, 24-year-old Eli has two tickets left behind at his Calgary home — tickets that will never be used.

Eli and his mother planned to attend a concert by the band Heart, yesterday. Louise had bought the tickets last fall as a birthday gift to Eli and had planned to fly to Calgary for the event. 

Instead, Eli is sitting on a couch, grieving her loss.

Going to concerts was a joy Eli and his mom shared.

“She saw Fleetwood Mac in Vancouver and I saw them in Calgary and we compared notes,” he says, suddenly animated. “She was always wanting to know about new adventures we could do together.”

Casey, Louise’s 20-year-old daughter, is unable yet to put words to her grief. 

She is comforted by her Aunt Wendy, who silently wraps her arms around the bereft young woman.

Perry and Beth Phillips, the children’s uncle and aunt on their father’s side, tell of how everyone in the family valued Louise’s artistic talents and how often she indulged them.

“If something creative was needed, she’s the one we turned to,” says Perry, recalling his joy years ago when he purchased a Mustang and couldn’t find an appropriate Mustang cap. “She surprised me. She silk-screened one for me.”

The couple describe Louise as a great artist, laid back and not phased by much of anything.

“And my God, she was a great cook,” exclaims Beth. “She had a great sense of humour and that’s why I saw her so often.”

Grief is palpable in an email from Louise’s sister Linda Damant.

“Louise, ‘Cookie’ as we nicknamed her, was my only sister,” says Linda, who notes she was 17 years older than Louise and that three brothers, Ted, Laurie and Chris arrived in between. “She was a beautiful sunny, happy baby and we adored her.”  

Linda explains that theirs was a very close family until the kids were adults with families of their own.

“Louise always put her family first, especially Eli and Casey: no mother was ever more proud of her children,” she says, describing how happy her family was to share the past two Christmases with her and how much the whole family is grieving. 

“We promise that we will do everything in our power to see her children through this horrible time. Cookie, we miss you and love you. The pain of losing one sweet person extends to hundreds of others.”

Linda’s daughter Zoe shared her pain in an email.

“I have known her all my life and she has been like a big sister to me, so it is hard to pick a favourite memory or thought,” she writes, noting that her six-year-old son loved to tease her by saying ‘Geeze Louise.’

“This was his little joke that I am sure irritated her, but she never said so, and instead humored him, which in turn made him feel special,” writes Zoe.

She also tells of the delight with which Louise’s hand-crafted gifts were received.

Christmas 2009 will be best remembered for the awesome hats she made for every member of Zoe’s family, while 2010 was the year Auntie Cookie made “super awesome” pajama pants.

“And that was who she was, a person who was always doing nice things for others.”

Sharing the contents of Zoe’s email in Salmon Arm, members of the Phillips family recall that to some of them, Louise was known as Wheezy, that they first knew her simply as Cookie – without a last name, that she grew up in Salmon Arm as Louise Laas, she loved boxer dogs and believed strongly in donating blood.

“The bottom line,” says Perry, wiping his eyes, “is that we really love and miss Louise.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack on the map for Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Canadian music legends confirmed for 28th annual music festival

CSRD green light’s Blind Bay cannabis store, provincial approval required

Public survey shows 55 per cent in favour, 42 per cent opposed to proposed outlet

Driver of speedboat in fatal Shuswap Lake houseboat collision denied parole

Court says Leon Reinbrecht unwilling to accept culpability for “reckless, thrill-seeking behaviour”

Mould mitigation at Sicamous elementary school near complete

School District #83 superintendent says health concerns have been resolved

Snowy softball in Sicamous

The 2020 snowpitch tournament took place at Finlayson Park on Jan. 18 and 19.

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

North Okanagan woman pleas for return of stolen scooter

‘It’s been another kick in the teeth… how do you get ahead and keep your head above water?’

Police search for owner of another icy sailboat on Okanagan Lake

The frozen vessel was spotted near the 800 block of Manhattan Drive in Kelowna

Volunteer spends hundreds of hours restoring piece of railway history

Revelstoke Railway Museum now home to an authentic Kalamazzo No. 2 Section Handcar

Future of Penticton francophone school secured following funding announcement

$11.5M in funding means École Entre-lacs now independently owned and operated

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

City of Vernon to redirect reclaimed water into Okanagan Lake

MacKay Reservoir nears capacity; city to reflow water into lake near Kin Beach

Most Read