Support floods in for Sarah’s kids
Doula group, N.L. artists raise funds for family of Bay Roberts woman who died of choriocarcinoma
Since Sarah Turpin died in October, her two-year-old daughter has had many dreams about her.
Rowan Adventure Turpin-Russell, who turns three on New Year’s Eve, didn’t like the dreams at first. They scared her, said her father, Peter Russell.
“But as time went on, she looks forward to going to sleep and having her little dreams with her mom sometimes,” he said.
Russell’s wife died Oct. 3, about a week after she was hospitalized. Choriocarcinoma, an extremely rare, aggressive form of cancer, claimed her life.
Sarah, who lived in Bay Roberts with her husband and three children, was well-known through her work as a teacher and a doula, her volunteer work and her involvement with Katimavik and other groups. Her absence is felt deeply by many - not least of all Russell and their children, Rowan and twin brothers Ellis and Grant TurpinRussell.
The twins, who turn two in January, don’t fully understand the loss, said Russell, but Rowan is quite astute, and wise beyond her years.
She feels her mother’s absence in the hours they would spend together doing yoga and other activities.
“Rowan says when she misses her mom, she does yoga and it makes her feel better,” said Russell.
The children don’t take after Sarah much in looks, he said, but she is very present in their personalities. Like her, they are funny. Rowan has already come up with her own knock-knock joke.
One of Sarah’s two sisters, Jennah Turpin, 29, said it’s a relief that the children have retained their sense of humour. She has been spending a lot of time with the children in recent weeks, and has found comfort being with them.
“Rowan is a very wise and very intuitive little girl. I think she senses a lot of things,” said Turpin. “She always knows just what to say. She’s sort of helping us through this in a way.”
Turpin tearfully told The Telegram about her sister this week. She described her as a wellread, well-travelled feminist who loved her children and always fought for the underdog.
They were very close and spoke all the time, she said.
“She would be the first person I would be leaning on through something like this if it was somebody else,” said Turpin.
Russell, who often works out of town on contracts, gets help from family and a caregiver - Brittany Broadbent, who Turpin said has been fabulous - in taking care of his children. As Sarah, who was 32, did not have life insurance, the cost of child care could become overwhelming.
“It’s one thing if you have one income and three children, and the other parent is providing the child care,” said Turpin. “But when you’re one adult and you still have to go to work, and somebody has to look after those kids, it’s a dilemma,” she said.
Turpin’s youngest sister, Claire Turpin, 26, is moving home from Nova Scotia in the new year to be closer to the children, and their mother is in Newfoundland temporarily.
For Sarah’s Kids
The family has also received some unexpected support from a group of birth doulas - people who provide support to a mother during pregnancy, labour and after childbirth.
Most of the doulas in the group, which is based in Southern Ontario, have never met Sarah or her family. Only one member - Mélissa Cowl, who trained Sarah to be a doula in Newfoundland - knew her.
But when The Doula Group heard about Sarah’s death, they were moved to support her family, said Debra Bowser, a doula from Barrie, Ont.
“Even though there are doulas worldwide, it is a small community. Because she’s a fellow doula, and Mélissa had met her, really we were truly touched by Sarah and Peter’s story,” said Bowser. “Our hearts are big, and we just wanted to spread the word to as many people as we could.”
The idea behind the fundraiser, called For Sarah’s Kids, is to provide the family with the financial means for child care, activities and other unexpected expenses, including Sarah’s funeral.
“We just want to make sure he and the kids are fully taken care of financially,” Bowser said.
Russell said at first, he felt uncomfortable with the idea of accepting money. Being a proud person, he did not want to be the recipient of charity. But after talking about it with friends, he realized a lot of people wanted to help, and weren’t sure how they could. The fundraiser provides them with a way to do something positive.
Looking at the fundraiser website one day, he was blown away by the generosity of donors. He was surprised to see that several people have made anonymous donations.
“I’m so appreciative of it, and I really don’t have any way of conveying my appreciation for it. So that’s when I turned a corner and said you know, I don’t mind doing this.”
Turpin said the money raised will go a long way toward helping to give the children opportunities their mother would have wanted them to have. She said her sister would be touched by the generosity.
“She’d be devastated if this happened to some other family, for sure. It would break her heart to think of three little children without a mom,” Turpin said.
Christmas Cards for Sarah
A separate, home-grown fund-
Peter Russell and Sarah Turpin with their children, Rowan Adventure, Grant and Ellis Turpin-Russell.
raising effort for Sarah Turpin’s family, called Christmas Cards for Sarah, also aims to help the family.
Five artists from this province - Hilary Winter, Mike Gough, Jillian Waite, Candace Fulford and Anne Downton - created their own Christmas card designs.
The cards are for sale online, and will be sold at the Ramada St. John’s hotel and The Guv’nor Pub in St. John’s. Other businesses have asked for cards to sell, too, Turpin said.
All the proceeds from the card sales will go to Russell and the children.
— The Telegram Weblinks For Sarah’s Kids: www.youcaring.com/help-aneighbor/for-sarah-skids/257670
Christmas Cards for Sarah: https://christmascardsforsarah.wor dpress.com
These Christmas cards by local artists are for sale online and at some local businesses. Proceeds from the sales will help support Sarah Turpin’s family.