A Mothering Instinct Well honed Bridget O’Brien

A Mothering Instinct Well Honed

Bridget O'Brien: 1927 – 2014, with Peggy Chapeskie
Bridget O’Brien: 1927 – 2014, with Peggy Chapeskie

A Seasoned Volunteer

Bridget died Christmas Eve 2014.  20 years ago, when I was new to Birthright, Bridget was already a seasoned volunteer. I remember a training shift with Bridget all those years ago. Upon learning that I had not brought a lunch, she promptly split her sandwich with me. That was the kind of person she was. Generous. Kind. Strong-willed. A former midwife who came from England as a young woman to work in the Canadian Arctic delivering babies before retiring to Victoria.

A Humble Woman

In many ways, Bridget lived a quiet, private life, and yet she also made lifelong friends by introducing herself to strangers at bus stops. Bridget loved to talk and visit.  And take care of others. She had that mothering instinct well honed even though she never married or had children of her own. At a goodbye tea for her when we knew she was dying, Bridget was to be found offering trays of food around. She was humble that way.

A Loving Heart

Bridget did things quietly, without drawing attention to herself. Once, years ago, I discovered quite by accident that Bridget was quietly providing baby-minding to one of our Birthright mothers who was finishing an advanced education program. Two, three days a week, for months, she went in, cared for the baby, did some housework, enabled this young Mum to finish her education so she could make a life for herself and her baby. All with no fanfare. Just a loving heart.

A Beautiful Symmetry

For our small group of volunteers, Bridget was a part of our close-knit “Birthright family.” Sometimes in life, we are privileged to witness a beautiful symmetry. For Bridget, who once quietly cared for a new mother’s baby, another of our volunteers stepped forward to care for Bridget. Daily, quietly, again with no fanfare, she visited, brought her soft foods which she could eat, accompanied her to all of her many medical appointments. Bridget shared with me her wondering amazement that her friend had made this commitment to be with her daily on this her final journey. She was humble that way. And, I think, moved.

Rest in Peace, old friend.  You will be dearly missed.

Peggy Chapeskie
Birthright Victoria Director