Celebration of Colleen's Life at St Ignatius Church by her husband John Robertson....
Colleen & John Wedding day, Aug 15th!
Thank you so so much for coming here today to honor Colleen's life. I could speak forever about Colleen but I ask GOD to let me do her justice within the few minutes that I have. But should any of you come across me, anywhere, anytime, please feel free to ask me about Colleen! But also be forewarned, that rather than telling you about how Colleen struggled, I will choose to tell you about how Colleen LIVED! Our families are in pain, our families are suffering a tremendous loss.
Over the past few days, people have asked me why I have as strong a FAITH as I do! My only answer is simply, I believe that it WAS the greatest gift that I WAS ever given by GOD...that of MY faith...and with that ...came the gift of COLLEEN! And because of my faith, I know Colleen is in a better place! And one of the tenets of my faith is to look for the 'face of christ'..in those within my path AND to also do my best to show 'HIS' face. And I have been fortunate enough to have seen CHRIST'S FACE in every doctor, in every nurse, that had cared for Colleen, and in every face that has ever loved her! Colleen was FITTINGLY born on ALL SAINTS DAY, NOV 1st (same birthday as her sister Arlene)! When I met her, she said she was 19 but within months I discovered that she had just turned 17, but by that time, I was madly in love and no matter what...NOT willing to let her go!
Colleen was shy, demure,and always intent upon deflecting any limelight away from her...and onto others! Before I met her sisters, she would say... 'You are going to think my sisters are better looking than me...' Colleen soon discovered that I ONLY had EYES for her! And to her very last night.. I could still coax her into gifting me with her sexy 'tweak' of her nose and in return, make her blush!!! And when she was down, be it struggling with her health...or anything else, I could always get her to smile! I would simply say softly to her ..." Colleen! I bet I can make you smile within 3 seconds but you MUST look at me!" She never failed to smile in all of those 33 years! Not once!!
Colleen deserved everthing, yet asked for nothing! She was my ONLY addiction! Without any acrimony, each of Colleen's six siblings would readily admit that Colleen was their closest sibling! She was the glue...that held things together! She lost her father (heart) just a few years after I met her, then she watched us play touch football from the sidelines at Grant Park as her 24 yr old brother, David...died while playing (heart stopped)! Pain and suffering were no strangers to Colleen...as it is seemingly to all families ! But oh...did she also have joy and happiness!
Colleen was so proud of our sons, and of her love for them...and theirs for HER! Our sons friends became part of our family! Our daughters friends ....the same! And our daughter, Ricki was inseparable from HER MOM! THEY...were BEST Friends. And did absolutely everythingtogether! With Ricki's daughter, our grand daughter, Mila...living at home with us, was Grandma's little miracle girl!!! So...so many times, when out with our grandkids...people would be in shock...when Colleen would be mistaken for being their mother...not their grand mother!
Colleen did not fear death..but only of LEAVING US BEHIND! A good friend, Sam Katz...once said to me, that he envied me so much....that of my love for Colleen, family, and friends! When Colleen first took sick in 1990, at age 34 (cardiomyopathy <enlarged heart>) .. functioning at only 8%, ...just one late nite tearfull call to Sam, and there were two plane tickets waiting at the airport for the next flight to London's University Hospital, one of the top five transplant hospitals in North America!. He said...'for Colleen, you name it...you got it, John'!
Over these past 16yrs, Colleen was returned to us...not once ...but twice! And the second time, when it looked like she would not make it through the night, she was baptized and given the last rites in ICU on the Feast of St Joseph, with Uncle John & Aunty Betty...bedside as her GOD PARENTS! Within a few hours of the baptism and last rites, she improved enough to board an emergency Cessna Jet...for another 'race to London'! A race that she had won before, and would win again ...Twice she arose from the ICU table ...she came back for all of us! She was able to see the birth of four of her grand kids, and the births of many nieces & nephews. She was able to enjoy the best possible additional seven years that she possibly could! Selfishly, I would give all...to be with HER right NOW...but as I promised Colleen, DEAR LORD...I ask that you grant me the longest LIFE possible..to be here ... to care for family and do YOUR WILL as YOU so wish! And in my efforts, LORD, when I stumble, please, please, pick me up and carry me once again...to do what Colleen expects of me! And Colleen: I will take care of YOUR home here on Earth, as you prepare OURS...in Heaven! Special special thanks to all who looked after Colleen over the years, especially Ted Cuddy, her doctor here in Winnipeg, her team of doctors and nurses in London and all whom befriended her at four Winnipeg hospitals! YOU WERE ALL ANGELS...caring for OUR ANGEL!
And the best way for me to end this tribute, is with a beginning! In truth, with two beginnings! Both on Jan 14th...exactly 26 yrs apart! It was Jan 14th, 1973 just after 11:30pm that I first set my eyes upon Colleen. Becoming a single dad at age 20 with full custody, raising two diapered boys, after dropping my boys off at my sister Theresa's who would care for them while I worked the night shift at the railroad and took part time courses at the U of M, I slipped into the Norlander Pub on Pembina! The bouncers, friends of mine, would allow me to 'sail' right by the stacked line up, knowing that I was just in for my usual weekly quick visit with my bison buddies and one drink and one dance before going to work!
I asked a few Bison buddies...who always took the very first table inside the entrance so they could see every girl that walked in; I said... 'Fellas...Who is the best looking girl here tonight'! They pointed to Colleen...in the midst of 400 people! The guys said she was turning everyone down when asked to dance! She was wearing a red sweater, high waisted jeans, and had an auburn sheen to her beautiful past shoulder length hair! She was simply...simply.. stunning! I told my U of M guys who had all failed to gain a dance with Colleen, that I would be dancing with her within 5 minutes! Not wanting to risk rejection at her table, in front of everyone...I hoped she would head to the washroom! AS I checked my watch, I said a quick prayer! " Dear GOD, please let her go to the washroom!" I then looked up and over to her table..and wouldn't you know it; she got up and was walking over in that direction! I waited outside the washwoom...and as she exited..I shot my arm across her path...leaning against the wall...stopping her! Before I could say a word...She nervously but gently punched my stomach saying.. " I know who you are! You are that football star who has custody of his boys! My girlfriends have told me about you!" I replied ...." You are the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen! Would you give me the honor of just one dance...one dance only...before I must leave for work, just three minutes; and you can walk away at any time!" That dance was to Van Morrison's : Brown Eyed Girl! As if it was all about Colleen! Five dances later...late for work, I bent over and above the music I said " Colleen! I must get to work! can I please have your phone number?" Colleen, leaning forward...on tips of her toes, whispered into my left ear "452-2373!" My heart jumped!! I would have gladly settled for that three minute dance with Colleen ...but she chose NOT to walk away...but to stay...and stay she did...for 33 years!!!!
And that second beginning? On that same date...January 14th? It was exactly 6:52 in the evening in 1999 when the birthing nurse brought little Mila and placed her in my arms! Of note, months earlier, we were told by the tech at St B to get a 'blue' blanket ready for the baby pic (it would be another boy!) but I said " No! Its going to be our first grand daughter!" We were already proud grand parents to two boys, Jacob and Joshua, and with Colleen on the heart transplant list, pager in her purse, and unsure if she would even be alive for another birth, we both were anxious to know what GOD would be bringing us! The hurrying nurse extended her arms...saying " Your daughter and wife say that you should hold your grand daughter first!" Little Mila had ''Mick Jagger" lips! The nurse said she must still go weigh and clean little Mila up! Just before giving her back to the nurse... I kissed Mila's forehead and said to her " You are 7 lbs 12ozs!!" One hour later, that same nurse came back to confirm "Mr. Robertson!!!...she IS 7 lbs 12ozs!!"
Mila & Emma!
Many have asked me how do I know there really is a HEAVEN? I could write pages with respect to the miracles I have been witness to over the years, and also provide you with many theological arguments by those much more 'knowing' and 'faithful' than me..but I prefer a short and loving answer! I believe in Heaven because I have lived and slept with an ANGEL!!!! Please hold your loved ones a little closer ..Hold them a litttle tighter...and hold them a little longer! Please please let your shields down and let love flow...both in & out! And don't put off telling another that you love them! Don't wait! Show it now! Say it now! Do it now! And DEAR LORD GOD, please wrap my Colleen in your arms...please keep her warm & waiting...for me.... for all of us!!!!!
I love you, Colleen... and will see you again! But not just yet! John...