Frederick’s Story

Fred at Flo & Peter's wedding in 2010
Fred at Flo & Peter’s wedding in 2010

Frederick Mark Reimer was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Levi and Annie Reimer on December 19, 1953.

Fred passed away peacefully on August 8th, 2016 in Abbotsford, BC at the age of 62. He is predeceased by his parents Levi and Annie Reimer and brother Norman. He will be lovingly remembered by his siblings: Lloyd (Tanis) Reimer, Rey (Marjorie) Reimer, Leona Gardner, Rosella (Steve) Werdal, John (Debbie) Reimer, Will Reimer and Flo (Peter) Belanger, as well as many family and friends.


Here is a video of Fred which was played at his memorial service.

A Memorial for Frederick was held on September 6, 2016.


Memories

by Rosella Werdal

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I actually have no memories of Fred before he had his head injury and seizures. My memories are mostly of the terror I felt night after night when you’d hear him seizuring and wondering if he’d make it through the night Whenever you’d even try to have a normal sibling conflict with him he’d always end up having a seizure so it was difficult to relate to him as you would with other siblings.

I remember all the times where I was so upset because of how he got so badly treated by others. It really messed with my feelings toward a lot of people. I think our family was forever changed by the things that transpired that year.

One of the memories I have is when Flo was in a big cardboard box and Fred not knowing got a butcher knife and was about to stab the box when something stopped him. It’s no wonder I have terror issues.

I wish we could have got to know Fred and what was really going on in his head as I know he had real difficulty expressing outwardly what he was really thinking. He was stu

bborn and obstinate so often that it was not always easy to communicate with him. But there were times when his soft side came through and he could express his feelings and you knew there was a lot more to him than we often saw. I know that he had faced rejection so often that he had his own barriers of self-protection.

It seems a bitter pill that stacked upon al his suffering that he had to face the cancer in his last years. I am so thankful that Leona took him in and he experienced love and care first-hand. Even though he didn’t often express it to Leona, he would tell me over and over again how blessed he was.

Thank you to both Leona and Flo for looking after his welfare all these years. I know we all so deeply appreciate it.

I know Fred is now free from all his suffering and in a much better place. No more seizures and pain. We will miss him but are happy for him that he is now truly free.


Broken Wing

by Will Reimer
September 6, 2016

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Often we see those with infirmity as weak,
Needing our sympathy and concern.
But do we really see what’s beneath,
Is it strength that lies beneath the infirm.

We sorrow and weep over their disease,
Not thinking what it is like to live in their skin.
Frustration and resentment sometimes creep in,
We even feel sorry that we are their kin.

But when we ponder their place in our life,
Do we see clearly what their infirmity brought?
Did we not see that in all of the distress,
The strength we shared could not have been bought?

The life that is difficult is not to be sorrowed,
But celebrated for what it brought into our world.
For they are much more than their infirmity to us,
Reaching into our soul our love was unfurled.

Do we really see the person inside,
Or do we only see what the infirmity hides?
Do we see the desires the soul lit on fire,
Or the dreams that within their heart abides?

Too often I have seen only the thing I detest,
And wonder how any spirit could do this to someone.
But then when I peal back the layers of skin,
Was it him or us that made him undone?

Fred had passion and pride,
He had love for a joke.
He wanted to sore with eagles,
And not wear his burdensome yoke.

I wonder today as we lay him to rest,
Did we really know him under his skin?
How do we mourn someone we might not have known,
Perhaps we lost out, that would be a sin.

He saw Nashville and Hawaii,
And in bowling won a trophy.
He tried snowboarding and diving,
And tried driving a car, which, well, was not holy!

We often don’t see what he did get to do,
He traveled and was able to work many years.
So today we want to see Fred for the good things in life,
If we add them all up, perhaps we shed happy tears.

So if I see the world, though his eyes not mine,
I can understand that he was perhaps luckier than most.
I see someone who loved us without a doubt,
So let’s raise our glasses, to Fred give a toast!

A bird on the wind he sores evermore,
No more broken wing to keep him on the ground.
Singing a song of freedom, he can dance on the wind,
No doubt happiness and joy he has found.

We will not regret any more his sorrow,
We will celebrate what he brought through his struggle and strife.
We will share our blessed memories of times immortal,
We will not mourn our loss, but thank God for his life!


Frederick’s Story

by Flo Belanger

Levi Reimer Family
Levi Reimer Family

The following story is a glimpse into the realities of Frederick’s life…the ups and the downs…the struggles and victories. Against all odds and challenges thrown in his path, Fred had an immensely optimistic, determined spirit to survive and thrive in life. Many times during his battle with cancer he would say, “I want to live!” This strong desire helped him to survive all through his life.

Frederick Mark Reimer’s story began on December 19th 1953 in Winnipeg, Manitoba when he was born into the family of Levi and Annie Reimer. He was the 5th child of 9 and laid claim to being the “middle child.” They lived in Blumenort, which is where he started school. He was very smart and the results of his IQ test proved what Mom believed…that he was smartest of the bunch! It was during this time that he had a head injury that changed his life forever with the onset of unpredictable seizures. While medication helped, he never lived seizure-free again.

This sudden change in behaviour was not understood or accepted in the culture of that time and the teachers at school thought he was just goofing off and would discipline him harshly when he would have a seizure. He was labeled stupid and ostracized by other kids in school which overflowed into all areas of life, including church. In spite of how he was treated, he accepted Jesus into his life at a young age and was baptized at 16…God’s love won even though the people of the church missed the mark.

In 1966 the family moved to Treesbank, Manitoba, a little community near Wawanesa. Fred attended school till it became too difficult continue. He helped out on the family farm and traveled occasionally with Mom and Dad or other family to Mexico, Florida, California and BC. In 1974, for health reasons, Dad sold the farm and moved the family to Abbotsford, BC. Both he and Fred got a job at Cargill Hog Centre where he worked till 1980. Dad, Fred and John got a job working on a farm on Matsqui Flats until they moved back into town.

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Fred and Dad invested in a condominium building in Hawaii and they took a trip there together. This was before the official timeshare craze began and the bugs had not been worked out. The real estate agent was selling each condo multiple times and they both ended up losing their investment. In spite of this, Fred thoroughly enjoyed Hawaii.

One time Fred decided that he wanted to travel to Manitoba to find work. He couldn’t afford to take the bus or to fly so he decided to hitchhike there. He didn’t feel completely safe so he bought a knife for protection. He went to the police and showed them his knife and asked if it would be okay for him to travel with it and they gave the ok. He returned back to Abbotsford safely several months later so it must have been a success!

Frederick LOVED Country music! In his 20’s he took a 2-week holiday to Nashville, Tennessee where he thoroughly enjoyed the music at the Grand Ole Opry and met some of his favorite singers. He even had a picture the picture taken with Tanya Tucker. He came home with as many records as he could fit in his suitcase and played them 24/7. While the singers and the styles may have changed through the years, he always enjoyed the music…lps, cds, online or on radio, it was always playing in the background no matter what he was doing.

Frederick with Tanya Tucker

 

Take this music journey with a few of his favorite singers/groups:

Also during these years he was part of a ten-pin bowling League where he won several trophies. He loved being part of a team and the camaraderie it gave him.

On one of his trips, Fred bought a huge green piggy bank in the shape of a frog. It took him years to fill with all the change he could put in it. Once it was completely full, he smashed it apart and it took Mom, Fred and myself many days to roll all the change for him to be able to cash it in at the bank…several hundred dollars worth.

In the early 80’s he found love when he met Gayle. His life was heading down the slippery slope of alcoholism and drugs when he met her. She gave him hope for a life and a future and they got married. For many years they were happy. Fred refinished furniture, cared for the grounds in their townhouse complex, and created elaborate crafts using popsicle sticks (i.e. lamps, bowls, and organizers) to sell at craft fairs. It was during this time that Fred had corrective brain surgery to stop his seizures. The surgery was a success and he lived seizure-free for almost a year. He was so excited because after a year he would be able to get his driver’s license. Just before the year was up they were in a car accident…the jolt caused enough damage that the seizures returned in full force. After 10 plus years, disappointing and stressful life events eventually took its toll and the marriage ended. He continued working as the groundskeeper in the townhouse complex in Port Moody until it became too difficult to manage on his own and he moved in with Mom and Dad in their two-bedroom apartment in Abbotsford.

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In the late 1990s he decided to pursue going back to school. There was a program at the University of the Fraser Valley that funded adults to get upgrading. Fred signed up and completed this program which led to another Back To Work program at Triangle. After he completed this program, he enrolled in CDI College to study web design. The years he spent studying were very beneficial to his health and he had very few seizures. He did extremely well and averaged about 92% in some of his courses! He really enjoyed the challenge of learning especially when it came to using the computer.

Fred did well when he could put all his focus on one thing at a time. While he believed that he could do it all on his own and needed no help, the reality was that he needed someone to look out for his basic needs if he was to succeed. The stress of being expected to do it all overwhelmed him and brought on seizures. He needed help to live his life well but resented it at the same time. The frustration of not being able to live his life the way he wanted to made him angry at times at the very ones who tried to help. And yet, during the last week of his life he said often how blessed he was to have people in his life who cared.

Fred was not afraid to try new things and enjoyed being creative… especially with wood. Once he learned how to use the computer his creativity shifted. He got into playing computer games and he loved Criminal Case and Family Farm. He completed all the levels for Criminal Case and got all his gold stars while he waited for them to add more levels. He developed his Family Farm to such an extent that it looked like a city and he always knew what needed to be done and which Quest he had to complete. He had well over a thousand Facebook game friends and he got to know quite a few of them on a personal level.

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Fred loved animals and they were drawn to him like a magnet. Geese, ducks, squirrels, Leona’s dogs, and his own cat BB. My cat Fudge was afraid of men and would hide under the bed until they left, but not with Fred…she liked him.

Fred walked everywhere no matter how far. He would stop for coffee (especially Tim Horton’s) and visit with whoever would stop by. When the city bus system started up, he bought a bus pass but he still walked most places.

Somewhere around 2003-2004 Dad went into a care home and Mom was no longer able to provide the support that Fred needed to continue living with them. The temporary lodgings that were found, did not meet his needs so eventually he found an apartment in Mission. He loved the freedom of being able to do everything for himself and did really well for a few years. He found the people were so friendly and accepted him for who he was. He would sit out on his deck to have a smoke and talk to the people that would walk by and he got to know his neighbors quite well. It was through his friendship with Annie Lemay that Peter and I got a photographer for our wedding where the pic (used in the obituary) of Fred was taken.

Leona dropped by weekly to check in on him and bring groceries or whatever she thought he needed. Angie helped out by cleaning his apartment for him on a regular basis. They started to notice a difference at some point in 2011. Both Dad and Mom died in 2012 and the day after mom’s Memorial was when Fred got the diagnosis that he had terminal cancer.

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Leona has a huge heart and she offered to Fred that he could live with her till he went into hospice care…he accepted. No one imagined that he would live another 4 years! A testament to his strong spirit and will to live…even through a couple of surgeries. With her support and care, Fred was able to have the quality of life that he enjoyed…to smoke, play computer games, watch his favorite TV shows, devour Leona’s good cooking and baking, and occasional visits with family.

In late July, he fell and broke his hip. During his Hospital stay he was told that the cancer had spread extensively and that he had only weeks to live. At this point, an application was submitted to hospice care in Mission but he ended up being transferred to a rehab facility in Abbotsford instead. While he knew he had cancer, the idea of actually dying was new to him.”How does one Live to Die?” A person can prepare for life after death but how do you prepare for the dying process. He felt very blessed by those who cared and knew he was loved. He said, “I don’t really know how to show love but I hope people know I love them.”

In the morning of August 8th I received a call from the nurse that Fred was no longer responsive. I went to stay by his side and Leona joined me later for a while. It seemed to calm him knowing that we were there. Later that evening as I was talking to him, I told him that it was okay to let go… that the Angels would lift him up to heaven and he should run into the Arms of Jesus! A few minutes later his breathing stopped and I knew he was gone. I continued talking to him and rubbing his arm when I heard his voice, “Flo I’m not there…look up!” I looked up and it was as though the portals of Heaven had opened and I got a glimpse of Fred sitting on Jesus’ knee, encircled in love. Fred had the most glorious, happy smile on his face and he said to me, “See! He loves me!!” I knew he was finally safe In the Arms of Jesus and completely free.