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Born: Apr 06, 1947

Date of Passing: Mar 12, 2023

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(nee MARTIN)

April 6, 1947 - March 12, 2023

Never let anyone else put a limit
on what you can do.

That's what my mother, Niki, told me not long after suffering a massive brain aneurysm at the age of 53. Initially she was not expected to survive - but she did. She was not expected to walk again - but she did. She continued to defy everyone's expectations for the next 22 years, and blew us away with her courage, strength and unflappable positivity during what could only be described as the most heartbreaking and devastating of circumstances. She loved life, and she had a good one.
Niki was born in Varel, Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1955 at the age of eight. With her six year old brother, Peter, in tow, they travelled from Dusseldorf and following an eight hour layover at London Heathrow, arrived in Montreal where they were reunited with their parents, who had immigrated a year earlier.
The family settled in Murdochville, a small town on the Gaspe Peninsula, where our Opa worked underground in a copper mine.
Niki landed in Canada without knowing a word of English; by the end of the first school year she was at the top of her class, where she remained throughout her schooling. Very quickly, there were two additions to the family - sister, Isabel, and brother, Chris. When it came time for Niki to go to university, Opa decided to move the family to Winnipeg, where Niki attended the University of Manitoba and graduated with a B.A.
Niki spent the next 15 years working as a flight attendant and supervisor for Air Canada. Travelling the world was her passion, and she spoke about it often. After a period of dating, my father, Irvin, booked one of her flights to propose. Sitting in an aisle seat in economy, he motioned her over and asked her to marry him. She responded: "I think you've had enough to drink." A year later, my brother, Aaron, was born and I followed three years after. He and I, and later his sons, Finn and Connor, were my mother's greatest joy.
My parents were an unlikely match - she was a statuesque, blonde German, he was a short, curly-haired Jewish man with a big moustache. She always said her favourite thing about my father was how he made her laugh. Niki was by his side when he was diagnosed with cancer in his late 30s, and when the radiation treatments caused a massive heart attack, he was left with a failing heart. Her devotion to him and her strength during those years was inspiring, and no doubt carried him through the hardest times. He passed away at 47; she never remarried.
After that Niki rediscovered her passion and talent for art. She enrolled at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary to study painting. She enjoyed herself immensely during this time, and often brought me along to lectures or critique sessions, occasionally involving me in her projects. She became so skilled that she ultimately had a showing at Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art. My appreciation for art and all things beautiful came from her.
My mother was spontaneous and fun and unafraid; she refused to be ruled by fear and faced all challenges head-on. She was a fighter, and fiercely independent (who could ever forget the time she ordered a taxi and quietly escaped her care home to get a slice of cake and a coffee at her favourite bakery downtown). She was a light, and losing her has been a kind of pain I have never known. The years we had together were a gift.
As her health continued to deteriorate in various ways over the years, she never complained, she was never angry; in fact, it was she who often comforted the rest of us. My brother and I were with her, holding her hand, when she took her last breath. After years of being held hostage in a body that betrayed her and failed her, we now take comfort in knowing she is no longer suffering, and is finally free.
As was typical of Niki, she insisted there be no service; still, we thought she wouldn't object to the family getting together to reminisce and have a final toast in her honour, and so we will.

- Suzanne Goldman

Expressions of sympathy may be forwarded to the family, via the website:

Telephone: 403-297-0888
Honoured Provider of Dignity Memorial

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Mar 18, 2023

Condolences & Memories (2 entries)

  • Such sad news a life taken far too soon. May family friends time and memories ease your sorrow. - Posted by: Debbie Larkin Sigfusson (Isabel’s friend ) on: Mar 21, 2023

  • What a wonderful tribute. I only met Niki once, at a Christmas dinner at my sister’s and her brother Peter’s home. She was lovely and I could see how special she was to Peter and Sunny. I’m very sorry for your loss. - Posted by: Ann Teschke (Sister-in-law’s sister) on: Mar 20, 2023

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