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Tree of Remembrance ceremony held in Olds

Ceremony took place the evening of Nov. 19 in Centennial Park

OLDS — Olds and District Hospice Society (ODHS) held its annual Tree of Remembrance ceremony at Centennial Park the evening of Nov. 19. 

Participants gathered in the gazebo, where candles were lit and food and hot chocolate were available.  

“It’s amazing to see so many people out,” ODHS president Harvey Walsh said. 

“It’s a special time of year, approaching Christmas and when you’ve lost loved ones, those memories start flooding back,” he said.  

“To be able to celebrate a life in the community is the important part and that’s part of the gift that the hospice (society) is glad to provide.” 

He acknowledged the presence of several ODHS members who were in attendance. 

ODHS executive director Mary Smith thanked the many volunteers who helped organize the event and the supporters who gathered for it as well as event sponsors. 

Kathy Kemmere, who helped found ODHS and ODHS services coordinator Ruby Elliott lit five symbolic candles as Smith read aloud their meaning. 

“The first candle represents our grief. The pain of losing our loved one is intense. It reminds us of our love for those we have lost. 

“The second candle represents our courage – the courage to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other and the courage to change our lives. 

“The third candle is lit in memory. The memories of the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things that made our life and the care and the joy we remember with you.  

“The fourth candle is the light of love. We cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for our loved ones. We are grateful for the gift your living brought to us. 

“And finally, the fifth candle is the light of hope. It is a reminder of the love and memories that are ours forever. May the glow of the flame be our source of hopefulness, now and forever.” 

Participants were then each asked to walk with a tealight candle from the gazebo to the Hospice Tree of Remembrance where they were invited to place decorations in honour of their loved ones on the tree. 

Rev. Tammy Allan of the United Church read a prayer. 

“Gracious God of compassion, we bring you our prayers on this chilly autumn evening,” her prayer said in part.  

“We have come to this place seeking peace and hope and comfort. 

“And as the advent season approaches, we know that our society expects everyone to enter into times of merriment. Yet sometimes we find ourselves missing that joy – missing the feelings of celebration that others are experiencing," she added. 

At the end of her prayer, Rev. Allan said, “may the memories of our beloved ones symbolized by the lights and the stars before us comfort us and warm our hearts in the days and weeks to come. 

“Bless our memories, bless our stories, bless the love that is shared in these lights and in this gathering.” 

Jim and Charlene Schramm, along with Joanne Guenther sang a song, The Parting Glass

It said in part, 

“Of all the comrades that e'er I had

 They're sorry for my going away 

And all the sweethearts that e'er I had 

They would wish me one more day to stay 

But since it fell into my lot

That I should rise and you should not 

I'll gently rise and softly call 

Good night and joy be to you all.” 

That song was followed by a moment of silence, after which the group sang Silent Night before retrieving their decorations from the tree.