Always in my Heart
WRITTEN BY: KATRINA LAROY, OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
Several months ago Ruth and I passed each other in the hallway of the Emerald building on the Fleetwood campus. When our eyes met, she held up her necklace pendant and enthusiastically said, “this is an impression of my husband’s fingerprint and is very special to me.” The brief exchange stayed with me for months and I was curious to learn more about Ruth and her pendant. The opportunity to sit down and visit with Ruth came this past fall.
The daughter of a pastor, Ruth often accompanied her father to different churches he served within their denomination. Although Ruth lived in Saskatchewan and Laverne (her future husband) in Manitoba, they would periodically see each other as a result of her father’s ministry.
Both Ruth and Laverne attended Bethel Bible Institute in Saskatoon. She reminisced on their navigation of the strict school guidelines pertaining to ‘relationships’. Dating during first semester was prohibited, so Laverne promptly asked her out at the onset of the second semester when the guidelines were somewhat more relaxed and allowed one date per month. As second year students, they were permitted the luxury of two dates a month, however, she says with a twinkle in her eye, “we found opportunities to talk in-between”. An engagement followed in their third year and marriage in their fourth.
From Pastor’s daughter to Pastor’s wife, Ruth and Laverne ministered under the umbrella of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Their first church was “north of the power lines and north of the telephone poles” in a small community near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She tells of melting snow on the stove for water consumption and how one winter, when their car was snowed in, Laverne walked two and a half miles to bring her back a cream can full of fresh water from the neighbour’s well, as she was not overly fond of using snow water to boil their potatoes!
They ministered in several small Saskatchewan towns before relocating to Red Lake, Ontario. From Red Lake, they moved to Swan River, from Swan River to Neepawa. During the winters, Laverne made ice rinks in the yard; great for skating and hockey. One secret he discovered was that the hot water from the baptismal tank procured the most marvellous ice. Much to the delight of their children, he would siphon off the warm water following a baptismal service and add another layer to their rink.
Their years of ministry were full and meaningful, serving communities for several years and then willingly relocating as they felt called. In addition to the Prairie Provinces, they also served in several BC communities including Port Alberni, Kitimat and Burnaby. In total they served together for over 50 years.
The Clarys moved to the Emerald at Elim Village in 2015. Shortly thereafter, Laverne was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away in September of 2016. Together Ruth and Laverne shared 61 years of marriage.
Just prior to the funeral, Ruth’s son pulled her aside. “Mom, I want to give you something special.” She opened a small box and inside was a beautiful necklace and pendant. It had Laverne’s fingerprint on one side and engraved on the back it read, “Always in my heart.” She has worn it almost daily since.
When asking Ruth what the necklace meant to her, she responded, “There are times when emotion gets the best of you, but having it there, I can just touch it. And I know that everything’s going to be okay.”
Ruth has since lost her daughter Cheryl to Lymphoma. Similar necklaces were made of Cheryl’s fingerprint and given to Cheryl’s two sisters and two granddaughters. It has been a difficult three years for the Clarys and as I began to ask how she was managing, she anticipated my question, saying, “do you mean what holds me together? The Lord. Only the Lord can hold you together.”