Silvia Enfield 1938-2008

My mother died peacefully today 3.5 years after a massive stroke left her disabled and bedridden. We are both sad and happy. We of course grieve for the loss of her, but are so happy that she is free in form and spirit in the afterlife after being trapped in her unresponsive body for so long.

Following is her obituary.

Silvia Enfield, beloved wife and mother, passed away peacefully in her sleep after a long illness. Silvia was born March 27, 1938 in Manila, Philippines. She received a degree in Chemistry at St. Scholastica College in Manila and her medical technologist’s training in Philadelphia. In 1962 she immigrated to St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada where she met her husband, Peter. They were married on October 26, 1963. Her daughter, Catherine, was born in Montreal in 1964 and later joined by a brother, Paul, born in Newport, Oregon in 1967. The family moved to Spokane, Washington and Woodland, Maine, before moving to Saudi Arabia for 16 years. After their retirement in 1987, Silvia and Peter moved to Salem.

Being an avid sewer, Silvia was one of the founding members of the local chapter of the American Sewing Guild. She was also a member of the Willamette Valley Quilt Guild, Directions Group, and the Sew and Sew Neighborhood Group, of which she was a group leader. She enjoyed attending sewing workshops in a number of cities in the Pacific Northwest. Afterwards, she would share what she had learned with the members of the local sewing guilds.

Silvia also volunteered many hours at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift and the Queen of Peace Catholic Church.

Silvia is survived by her husband, children, and grandson, Orion.

I encourage you to read my Lessons Learned posting from 6/13.

Here she is as an infant. Eddie, Josie, mom, Earnie, Tongie

With Earnie.

Wedding to dad, Peter, in October of 1963.

With me in the 60's.

The family in the 70's. My brother is Paul.

My high school graduation in 1983.

Mom and dad's 30th wedding anniversary.

Happy at a sewing event in the late 90's.

My name is Susan Olsher and I have been a friend of Silvia Enfield for 10 years and I know a lot of you have known her a lot longer.

When I first came to Salem she took me under her wing. She thought I needed something to do during the long gray winters. My daughter was leaving for college and I decided I would make her a quilt. Silvia thought that was a great idea but wasn’t so thrilled about my choice of fabric, but hey this was my first quilt what did I know. I thought you used scissors to cut the fabric. Silvia was the first person to show me how to use a rotary cutter.

There was another thing about Silvia and that was the spelling of her name. Never and I mean never spell her name with a “y”. It was spelled with an “i”. SILVIA.

Silva was constantly on the go and everywhere I went with her she knew someone. It was amazing. And by the way, I don’t know if any of you ever traveled with her, but you didn’t want Silvia telling you how to get somewhere. She could get lost or turned around easily.

Silva was my friend and I have and will miss her.
From Me:
I've had a hard time thinking of stories to tell, but I can tell of these memories that make me think of my mom...

She was always sewing clothes. A lot of it was due to necessity since we lived in Arabia and we were growing kids. Many times mom's clothes for me were hit or miss. I either wore things forever or never wore them at all. When I left home it was convenient because she never knew what things I basically gave away. But other items I wore for over ten years. We usually were good about picking dresses that were classics and so I could wear them for many years. If I was with you today at this service, I had planned to wear the last dress that I still have that she made for me. All the others no longer fit.

She also made the most important dresses in my life. My high school graduation dress was a smocked wedding gown (we all had to wear long, white dresses) that had a lot of fabric and the smocking was done by her friend, Mrs. Stanley, I believe. Then when I got married I had a small wedding and I chose kind of a blouse/short skirt combo. She made me a white skirt and bow for the wedding and then another black satin skirt and bow so that I could wear it as evening wear, which I did on our honeymoon cruise. The left over fabric and lace was then made into my wedding album.

My dad and I discussed how mom wasn't all that affectionate, but she showed her love through sewing. This continued for her grandson, Orion. She made him many clothes and his halloween costumes. And many family members have her quilts.

Mom also took me to boarding school. We did a lot of shopping for all those items you need for dorm life. I remember the last day when she dropped me off and left me to return to Arabia. I sobbed. I wonder if she did too.

On a funny note, she always sneezed in threes. We never figured out why, but they would be three small sneezes in succession.

We all know that she is in a much better place after these last three years. It makes our grieving easier to know that she is finally at peace.
From Paul:
Leading up to this event, I had been apprehensive about writing and sharing what follows. You see, as Catherine has already mentioned and many of you probably know already, my mom was not the most open person. As such, it is really difficult to express in words my relationship with her, and what she meant to me and my son. Despite this, she was important, influential, and loved by both of us.

My family has struggled to express our feelings amoungst ourselves verbally. As a result we've always relied upon our actions to speak of our feelings. As Catherine indicated my mom's actions were through her handywork. Her expressions of love were through her creations. Such creations were offered to both me and my son Orion. We both will cherish these forever.

I have a personal belief that our own self worth can be demonstrated by the good that our children bring to the world. I look at my life and am grateful to what my mom gave to me. I'm happy with the person I've grown to be, and I credit that to her. When I look at my son, I am immensely proud at what he's growing to become as well. He's a caring, and talented boy with insight and compassion. This too I credit to how I was raised by both of my parents.

In my good-bye wishes to my mom, I expressed these sentiments. I thanked her. I thanked her for helping me grow into the person I am today, and the care she gave me throughout my life. I also offered up my son Orion as proof for the impact she has had upon the world.

This last visit was encouragingly fulfilling. Throughout my time with her, she was very focused and attentive to what I was saying. And despite having virtually no control over her right arm, she very explicitly reached out to touch me in a very controlled manner. The focus and determination required to make this gesture was enough to tell me how much she cared. I will never for get it or her.

Thank you all of your support for my family. God bless.
Cousin Susie:
My favorite memories of Auntie Silvia are about
weddings. When I was little, I remember driving to
Canada for Auntie Silvia and Uncle Peter's wedding.
When people asked us if we were in the wedding, my
brother said, "Suzi is the flower girl and I am a
spectator." According to family stories, I wore my
flower girl dress and Dennis wore his Spectator Suit.

Many years later, the entire Enfield family flew out
east for my wedding. Cathy was one of my bridesmaids.
As a wedding gift, Auntie Silvia presented me with a
beautiful framed bible passage which she had
needlepointed. I look at it every single day and
remember Auntie Silvia. We are all very lucky that
Auntie Silvia was able to share so much love and the
needle arts with her family and friends.

Here is the passage that Auntie Silvia needlepointed.
She did not know at the time that it would be read at
my wedding, and now at her memorial service. Auntie
Silvia told me that she liked the passage very much.

Love is: patient and kind. Love is not jealous or
boastful. It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not
insist in its own way. Love does not rejoice at wrong
but rejoices in the right. It is not irritable or
resentful. Love bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love
never ends.
From dad:
For several years Silvia was one of the women who prepared and served food at funerals. Also for several years she was a Meals on Wheels driver, delivering lunch time meals to those less fortunate. In 1963 when we met and later married, it was rare to see a mixed race couple together. This was before the Vietnam war when many men came home with Asian wives. It was common to see people turn around to look at us, but it never bothered us. After a while we didn't even notice. Silvia made friends easily, no matter where we were living. Even Saudi women when they had no common language. She had the ability to learn a language easily and she made the effort to learn Arabic, but stopped after she realized everybody wanted to improve their English and would not reply to her in Arabic. She was a very intelligent woman and could learn anything she put her mind to. As I said before, she became very good with her dress making and made clothing items for each member of the family. She also made many quilts for relatives and those children who the police or firemen found on their visits to problem houses. She was one of those people who, when they found a need, made every effort to do something about it. She was a very generous and thoughtful person. When a new family came to live in the small town or camp where we were living she would bake a cake or something and take it around to welcome them. She would often take the wife around to the local shops etc. so they could return on their own later. This was very important when you are living in a Moslem country. There are dress codes in these countries and it can be embarrassing if you don't know the do's and don'ts. Almost every time she went out grocery shopping she would buy me a chocolate bar or some such treat like a slice of cheesecake. Rarely did she buy the same for herself. The reason I purchased a motor cycle for myself was because she encouraged me to buy it as she knew I would enjoy one. We got a helmet for her to wear but was unable to use it before she had the stroke. Silvia told me many years later, she knew she was going to marry me the second time we went out together. Not long after this we went to visit some friends in a small town in Ontario, Canada close to some lakes. These friends had a Ski Boat and wanted all of us to go to a local lake for some skiing. I had a bad cold that weekend so I was unable to do any skiing. Wanting to impress how athletic she was, Silvia tried to get up on the skis but each time the boat gunned it she went splash head first into the water. After three or four try's she gave up. It was not until several years later that I leant Silvia could not swim. What some people will do to impress. Silvia was a perfectionist and always passed any exam she took with top marks, but she was crushed when it took her three tries before she passed her driving test. It was the first time she had failed at anything. When her father had a stroke similar to the one she had, he was bedridden for 5 1/2 years. After she visited him in Manila shortly after he had the stroke, she came back home and went right out and found a job. She sent $500.00 a month to him as he had to have a nurse on duty 24/7 and she did not want to send any of the money I had earned to take care of her father. This she did for 5+years. She wanted to send money she earned for his care. Silvia became very good with her dress making and quilting and before she purchased any new machine she would always ask me if it was all right. She knew that I would never say no unless there was something unusual that prevented it. Luckily there never was. For several years she would go to few cities in the Pacific Northwest to attend workshops teaching new techniques in dress making. She would then come home and teach,free of charge, these techniques to the local guilds. She attended so many of these workshops that she got to know many of the women attending from other cities. Silvia had difficulty in telling someone she loved them,including family, but she showed it in actions and other ways. We all knew she loved us even though she never actually said it. We have all found that rather strange. If I think of anything else I will send it along.
Her brother, Eddie:
Silvia always valued her independence but balanced that with her need to be with family to keep her going. We will always love her as our sister and share the joy she had with her immediate family.

World War II broke out when she was only three years old. At age seven, she had to flee with the entire family on foot while the battle for our district in Manila were raging all around us. She probably did not remember this but in spite of the hardship, the noise, the fires, bullets, explosions, she patiently and courageously came along and cooperated completely, causing zero problems for all of us. This trait would ring true for her entire life.

Our parents decided that the best inheritance they could provide us was education overseas in any field of our choice. Silvia chose to be a Medical technician. We asked her to be our Maid of Honor at our wedding. He finished her education in Philadelphia and landed a job in Canada. While working there she visited us in our Chicago area home to be with family. We were very pleased to be with her. In the course of her work, she met Peter Enfield. In the early 1960s they were married in St. Catherines. We were honored when they selected our daughter Suzi to be their Flower Girl at the church ceremonies.

Peter and Silvia lived for the longest period of Peter's professional career in Saudi Arabia. One time, Silvia came over to look lup her friends in the east coast and she used our home in New Jersey as her base. It was a pleasure to host her since she fitted herself perfectly into our routines and was grateful for all the side tripswe took with her. Peter and Silvia also visited our father in Manila several times. That was significant because our father was completely paralized, and undboutedly the presence of Silvia and Peter cheered him up.

We visited with her in Salem to enjoy her beautiful home which Peter practically built by himself, an achievement few can duplicate. They drove us around to show us the beauty of her Salem, Oregon countryside. We then noticed that she inherited our mother's patience and skill working with fabrics. She was fabulous and very serious with her hobby.

Her atrial fibrillation condition caused her to suffer her total paralyzing stroke. The first time we visited her after her stroke, Peter and I decided to cheer her up by talking all about how funny her beloved bulldogs were. Although she could barely move any part of her body, she showed that she enjoyed the conversation greatly. We all know that with time her medical condition worsened. On our subsequent visit many months later, she seemed to be hearing what we were saying to her but she could not respond inn any way, not even with the blink of her eye.

Finally, in August, 2007, we brothers and sisters decided to visit her as a group and take her back to her home which she had not seen since her stroke. We wanted to enjoy her presence and we wanted her to enjoy our presence while she was still alive. It turned out to be a celebration of her life. At her home, her spirits were visibly uplifted. She drank in everything that was going on, listening to every word spoken and she generally soaked in the joy of being home again. But sadly this had to come to an end when Peter had to take her back to her nursing home. Peter has been a saint in taking care of her, he has the admiration and the love of our entire family for all he has done to make Silvia as comfortable as possible and for researching all avenues that might help cure Silvia. Of course there were none.

Her condition continued to worsen until finally God call her to join Him in heaven. We are happy to have provided her a last family group visit that she could enjoy and recall until her final hours. We are happy too that she is now with our father and mother who loved her so dearly.

We love you Silvia and you will always be in our hearts, we cannot and will not every forget you.