I've struggled over the past few days to come to terms with this and find the words to fit how wonderful a human being our Liz was...
It feels like I have known Liz forever. I knew her prior to Water Warriors when I used to volunteer with other organizations. They would always warn me about her and tell me how "spicy" she could be. I couldn't blame her - living on the streets was not a kind life to this plucky, tiny elder. I saw many outbursts from Liz over the years.
When she was in a good mood though, wow, she was a doll to be around! If you offered her any kindness, she would take the time to get to know you and remember your face for the next time.
When Water Warriors formed, I introduced my new friends to Liz. She was instantly a favourite. We watched out for her, just like everyone in the community did. In fact, she often had her own "bodyguard" which was so endearing. Everyone wanted to make sure she was safe.
We got "champagne showered" with the water we gave to her on super hot days. She wanted to make sure her friends weren't suffering from the heat. She always had a tongue twister ready for you. She loved her sweets.
As the team grew and more folks got to know her, we were making sure that she always got whatever it was that she needed. From her walkers to any warm purple clothing that we could find for her, and of course the sweets! At this point she was housed, but she was still that matriarch out there in the community watching out for everyone.
One day she got frustrated with us because she was walking along to help hand out snacks to her friends. We were taking too long and "you really need to split this big group up into two teams to make things go faster.". We took that advice and made sure that our "honorary Water Warrior team member for life" got her own t-shirt with our logo on it, that the volunteers wear while on duty. She proudly wore her t-shirt every Thursday.
With those she was closest to she shared stories of her daughters up north and how proud she was of them. It was nice to hear that she had contact with family. Being one of the more popular community members, her photo has been used for marketing campaigns in various places around Edmonton and area. She always told us that she wanted to be famous.
We don't often take photos of community members and we definitely don't share them when they are requested. They are usually kept for personal memories and keepsakes in most circumstances.
Liz joined her ancestors on September 21st. She was 63 years old. She was a force of nature and loved fiercely by many of our team members.
Liz your spicy, gentle smile, your jokes, your tongue twisters, your water bottle showers... You are loved more than you ever knew and will always be missed. Thank you for being part of the Water Warriors family. I wish we had taken more pictures. You will always be famous to us!
Rest in paradise.
Love from your Water Warriors family.