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Lilie's Song

Posted by Donna Hedley on

Evelyn’s thoughts . . .

My early memory of my Aunt Lilie was that she used to babysit me. She would cart me around with her wherever she would go, whether it was shopping or preparing for choir practice, she would always make me feel important and included me in whatever she was doing.  

One time, when I was 17, she took me away on a holiday to visit some old friends of hers. Since I was learning to drive at the time, she let me drive her car with some words of wisdom. 

“Your car will be the second most expensive thing you will ever buy, the first being that of a house. Be grateful and take care of them both,” she told me as I drove down country roads feeling quite grown-up.

Although she didn’t paint, my aunt has a voice that could disturb crystals in the cabinet in the back of the room.  How I loved to hear her sing!  I always asked her to sing Christopher Robin at birthday parties and family get-togethers.  Aunt Lilie served in the choir at Bethany Baptist Church in Toronto, Canada for over 80 years first as a devoted alto, and then as the leader. It was said that she could detect anyone singing off key. 

She was a true artist that committed herself to music. It was not until I started to sing in choirs and bands that I totally understood the commitment one must have to succeed. 

Although she has since passed away, her presence is still felt with the people at Bethany and within my heart. I will always remember her ready smile with a positive take on the world around her.


Donna’s Thoughts . . .

As a small child, I would often sit at the front of the church, kitty corner from Aunt Lilie as she sat in the choir loft every Sunday morning. She and I had a tradition. She would look down at me from her position in the front row of the alto section and smile. Next, she would put her hand on the pew and scratch it. I would do the same. This was a secret message, a code, that only we knew about. She was saying to me with that scratch, “I love you.” And of course, when I scratched back, I was replying, “I love you, too!”

Aunt Lilie (pronouced lielee) was indeed a special woman, full of grace, compassion and talent.  Now, where my mother and Aunt Kay were talented painters, Lilie’s artistry was music. She sang in the choir, for special occasions such as the Music Concert, for weddings (she sang at mine) or just for herself. Music was her passion and pleasure.

She never married, so my sisters and I became almost like her own children. I would love to go and visit her and Gramma on a Sunday afternoon for lunch, or play Careers in the dining room, or sometimes being able to stay overnight, comfy cozy under a beautiful gold and blue quilt that was on her bed. 

We actually had to share her with so many other children over the years, individuals whose lives she touched through Sunday School, Canadian Girls in Training (CGIT), being in the neighborhood, just to name a few. Even in her 90s, one woman who had met her through CGIT would take her out for lunch. People just loved Aunt Lilie.

She taught me much about music over the years. Many a time we sang together, in the church choir (we altos must stick together), doing duets or just with the family. Many years later she attended a concert put on by the college choir I attended. As a finale to the concert, the conductor invited anyone from the audience to join the choir. I was so happy when she joined me in the alto section and together we joyfully sang the Hallelujah Chorus. 

She passed away at the ripe age of 97, after living a life full of purpose, service and joy. I had the privilege of singing at her funeral and when the time came, I said goodbye with one more scratch.


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2 comments


  • Test

    Lynn Hedley on

  • I remember your Aunt Lilie at a family occasion when I was about 12 at Grandma Hedley’s. Lilie sang ‘Bless this House’. Something I have never forgotten – it was beautiful.

    Anne Clark on

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