Mildred Jean (Christie) Sparling
Born in Culross Township, Ontario. Loving wife. Devoted mother. Trusted friend.
Early in the morning on May 26, 2016, Mildred “Pat” Sparling passed away peacefully and surrounded by family at her home in Blyth, Ontario. She was 89 years old.
Mildred grew up on the family farm near Teeswater. Her young life was filled with rural pleasures: open spaces, cattle and chickens, watching thunderstorms from the veranda, and walking to school. Like most children on her line, she was unaware of the destruction the Great Depression brought. In the tradition of rural life, if someone needed help, neighbours pitched in. It was this uncomplicated sense of responsibility and caring for others that would define Mildred’s outlook on her community for a lifetime.
She loved her parents, two brothers and sister. Family, friends, faith and simple homemade fun were central to everything. From highland dancing to high school basketball, Mildred enjoyed life.
Mildred had her heart set on becoming a high school English teacher, but the realities of the time did not allow her to pursue a higher education. Little did she know that her journey would take her to the village of Blyth, where she would work at the Bank of Commerce and meet her future husband, Grant Sparling.
In 1959, Grant and Mildred were married and, in unique fashion, rode in a fire truck for their wedding procession. This day marked the beginning of a beautiful 56-year relationship. Four children – Jim, Jayne, Steven and David – filled their home with love. Grant was building a business and Mildred was the strong woman beside her strong man. Together, they supported each other in the challenges and joys of raising family and running a growing business.
Along the way, Mildred was active at Blyth United Church, Clinton Public Hospital and her beloved Bridge Club. She and Grant were proud supporters of the Blyth Festival from day one. Still a country girl at heart, Mildred enjoyed the flowers in her garden, tea at any time, and visits on the veranda. She was a thoughtful note writer, a voracious reader, and was always ready to discuss current events. Grant and Mildred enjoyed many adventures together travelling from coast to coast.
Quietly faithful, Mildred found comfort in scripture and her favourite was Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1-9: (1) “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...” Mildred quoted it often and it’s how she lived her life: grounded in faith and clear in her understanding that life is a short beautiful gift. Perhaps it’s why she lived every moment of every day of her 89 years quietly helping those around her in need.
She was clear in a letter to her family, written on February 16, 2016, and opened after her passing. She concluded the letter with, “Love me, but let me go. To everything there is a season and my winter is nearly over. Love one another. Be good to each other. Love you forever, Mom.”
Mildred is predeceased by her husband, Grant. She is survived by her children: Jim of Auburn, Washington; Jayne, Steven (Laurie) and David (Annie) of Blyth; seven grandchildren; and one sister, Dorothy Shouldice of Owen Sound.
Visitation was held at Blyth United Church on Monday, May 30, followed by a funeral service at the church on Tuesday, May 31.