Liv­ing me­mo­rial

Mother plants a tree in mem­ory of her daugh­ter lost to sui­cide

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY DE­SIREE ANSTEY

Gaie Or­ton planted a tree in mem­ory of her daugh­ter dur­ing the an­nual tree ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony at the In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Me­mo­rial Place Sun­day.

“She was a go-get­ter, had a lot of friends, a great spirit and she loved life, then at age 32 she took her life,” shared Gaie Or­ton, dur­ing the an­nual tree ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony held at the In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Me­mo­rial Place Sun­day af­ter­noon. The last time Or­ton talked to her daugh­ter was over the phone. “It was al­most a week be­fore Fa­ther’s Day when she called. She was sup­posed to be com­ing home for the oc­ca­sion, but she told me that she couldn’t be­cause the help was not avail­able on the Is­land like in Toronto. I asked her to come home, of course that never hap­pened.” Mary El­iz­a­beth Wood­side, known as “M.E.,” a for­mer res­i­dent of Char­lot­te­town com­mit­ted sui­cide in Toronto on Sun­day, June 4, 2017. “No one knows why. There are so many unan­swered ques­tions. Sui­cide is very hard, and that’s an un­der­state­ment,” said Or­ton, with tears in her eyes. “I just keep think­ing she’s that very bright can­dle that burned out too soon.” M.E. had a bipo­lar dis­or­der that caused episodes of de­pres­sion. “We saw it for a num­ber of years. There wasn’t the help here when she was aged 15. It would be a case of, ‘Oh she doesn’t want to go to school, she’s not feel­ing well or she’s just fak­ing be­cause she has an exam com­ing up.’ There would be pres­sure she just wasn’t able to han­dle. “There would be med­i­ca­tions that could be given, but no­body seemed to re­ally un­der­stand. “When M.E. died I was told by a Roman Catholic priest that there were so many more sui­cides, but peo­ple weren’t iden­ti­fy­ing them, be­cause if you have a bro­ken arm you can fix it, if you have a bro­ken spirit that’s some­thing peo­ple don’t dis­cuss. There’s still a stigma of sui­cide.” M.E. had al­ways bounced back from her ill­ness, and she had plans lined up for her fu­ture. “M.E. for a lot of the time was very cheery. She was very much a chameleon and would let you see what she wanted you to see. She learned to hide a lot of what was go­ing on.” She worked with peo­ple with men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties. “When she wanted some­thing, she could make it hap­pen, when it came to work, reach­ing out to other peo­ple and bring­ing them to­gether, or help­ing peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness feel ac­cepted,” shared sis­ter Katie Pux­ley, who trav­elled to the cer­e­mony at the Scales Pond site from Hal­i­fax. “She was an ac­tivist and protested at G20, she trekked across the coun­try and went to Cal­i­for­nia, she was just amaz­ing,” added Pux­ely. The fam­ily was among oth­ers who came to ded­i­cate new trees in the Ever­last­ing For­est in mem­ory of their chil­dren who have passed. “We needed a place where we could come as a fam­ily to re­mem­ber her,” con­tin­ued Or­ton. “She loved ‘The Lo­rax,’ writ­ten by Dr. Seuss, and years be­fore she said she spoke to the trees. “A friend told us about this me­mo­rial place, so we came up one af­ter­noon and it re­ally just some­how spoke to us. It was so peace­ful, all the beau­ti­ful trees, and it just seemed there needed to be a tree for M.E. here. You can feel her spirit here,” con­cluded Or­ton. For more in­for­ma­tion on the In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Me­mo­rial Place visit, www.icm­place.ca. For men­tal health care go to www.princeed­wardis­land.ca/en/in­for­ma­tion/sante-i-p-e/ men­tal-health-ser­vices.

DE­SIREE ANSTEY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Tim Wood­side, brother, Gaie Or­ton, mother, and Katie Pux­ley, sis­ter ded­i­cate a tree to “M.E.” in the Ever­last­ing For­est at In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Me­mo­rial Place.

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