“Come get your bag lunch”, her voice strong and loud rang through the kitchen and dining hall.
“There’s also hot porridge for anyone who wants” In no wise could you not know that this larger than life woman was in the kitchen.
“There’s eggs ready for anyone who hasn’t had breakfast yet”. And so it would go for the hour and a half that we would serve breakfast.
Now that she is not there and I have to do all the prepping, I begin to realize just how much this woman did for us every day.
She would prepare the bag lunches, making sure that everyone who needed one would know that they were getting something special that day. She also did up all the toast and then would come and help me on the grill.
This energetic woman just did not stop until I would kick everyone out at seven thirty when we were ready to close. There is a definite hole in the kitchen now that she is gone.
For the last four or five months, when things would quiet down she would tell me things that were going on in her body that were giving her grief.
“I’ll have to go see my Doc and tell him to fix me up.” Then about a month ago she went to have a tumor removed, and she never came home.
On the nineteenth of December I got the call that Dixie had passed away; cancer throughout her body had taken its’ toll.
This large woman always wanted to be in control. Everything had to be in its place. When she made bag lunches, it was always “Got to make sure my boys are happy with their lunches”, so she would take extra time or make some flavorful sandwich meat. There had to be some treats and also some fruit; everything she did was for her “boys” as she referred to the lunch takers.
If somebody did something wrong or stepped out of line, she had no difficulty saying so, never did she mince her words.
Whoever she referred to would know that they had done something not right. But having let them know, she immediately offered alternatives or any other help they might need; she never left them stranded. Her knowledge of the welfare system and help agencies would make any reference agency proud and she used that knowledge to steer anyone who needed help in the right direction.
Dixie took great pride in being able to help someone, or feed them, or clandestinely give them a smoke if they were really desperate.
From what I understand, she spent her last hours with her children by her side; thanks were given, hurts were healed, and her last minutes were spent in peace. That alone gives me a lot of comfort.
We all have our own battles and demons, but when we constantly fight to overcome them and do something good for others, we can count our life as having had good value. I believe that Dixie Derkatch was one of those people and my life is all the richer for having known her.
Thank you Dixie, and may your family be comforted in that knowledge.
That is how I see it.