Hilda Emily (nee Smith) Soderlund
November 11, 1923 – April 2, 2020


On Thursday of last week, my world lost a spark of light, with the passing of my mother, Hilda at the age of 96. I wasn’t going to write about this but after all, it is a part of my journey. It’s been hard for me to wrap my mind around this as I truly thought she would live to be over 100. Her mind was sharp and she had been well up until this past year when she fell and broke her hip (which, as I have mentioned in the past, usually ends up being the end of independent living.)

I was able to go up to see her in Canada 2 weeks before she passed but even after a 2-day drive, I was not allowed to go inside the nursing home because of the Coronavirus so I had to say good-bye to her from the window. (I didn’t actually say “good-bye” though, just “I love you”)
My mom was always fashionable, very artistic, a life-long learner and interested in the world around her. She was always young-at-heart and her best friends were often decades younger than her. When she lived with me, I saw her do the crossword puzzle every day! She also loved to plan – she was absolutely thrilled when the possibility of an event came around (even if she really had nothing to do with it) and she wrote copious notes about her thoughts on the event.

Of course, she had a few quirks as well – she was prone to gossip, very stubborn and quite opinionated. When her hearing went, that opinionated part could become quite embarrassing because she often expressed her opinions in public (LOUDLY!).
But she loved her children dearly, sewed all my clothing as a child (even while caring for my brother who had severe cerebral palsy and my father who had a penchant for breaking bones) , taught me my love of flowers and gardening, almost always had a camera in her hand and never met a tree she didn’t like! Unfortunately, neither her artistic talent nor the ability to sew was passed on to me! But I do carry on the love of the learning, her young-at-heart attitude, her ability to cook ( she was well-known for her cinnamon buns) and entertain and her love of nature.
Her attributes can be seen in my children, as well. Katie is an amazing event planner and Tyler is an expert at marksmanship and apparently cooking!
Hilda was born November 11th, 1923 to Eric and Beryl (Taylor) Smith in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba,

Hilda always had a zest for life. In high school, she enjoyed participating in operettas; pantomimes, singing/dancing, and concerts. After graduating from Portage La Prairie High School, she took some college classes in Winnipeg. She tap-danced with a group of women during wartime to entertain the service personnel in airports and on military bases. She was an excellent seamstress and designed many of her own clothes and costumes. Hilda was one of the first 8 women to work at Southport Airport and later became one of the first women radio operators in the province. She was a skilled marksman, winning several awards and trophies. She learned a lot about gardening and flowers from her father who was a hobby horticulturist.

Hilda married Lloyd Soderlund in November of 1945 and they settled in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Their first child, Garry, was born with cerebral palsy and even while caring for him, Hilda maintained her own interests: gardening, baking (she was famous for her cinnamon buns), playing cards, learning to paint and to color portraits, being active in the church women’s group and entertaining. When her 3 daughters were born, she made almost all of their clothing. She loved her children dearly.

My mother and father, smiling widely

In 1963, the family moved to Orange County, California. During her life there, she worked as a tax preparer, a portrait artist for a photography studio and in the late 1970s, started her own business as a floral designer for weddings which she continued to do for over 30 years. She recently stated “I can still smell those roses. I met great people and saw wonderful venues and homes.”

Hilda loved all things artistic, interior design, entertaining, cooking shows, flowers, trees and nature. She was a great cook and a fabulous hostess. She belonged to the Westminster Art Association and the Orange County Rose Society.

When asked where her favorite place to travel was, she answered “Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Beautiful! Many wild animals, bald eagles. Got to have a camera! I shoot with a Canon 35 mm. I am a marksman, but don’t kill animals or people. Paper targets are my choice.”

Her advice for young people today: “Whatever you learn will become an asset at some point in your life”

Her only regret was that she should have kept her pink silk ballet shoes from her Grandma in England.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Lloyd; her parents Eric and Beryl, her sister Jean, brother, Eric Sydney, and her grandson Riley.

She is survived by her children Garry Soderlund of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Karen Jill of Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan, Shelley of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Andrea of Vista, California, her sister-in-law Evelyn of Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, sister-in-law Irene of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, 6 grandchildren: Katie, Tyler, Brady, Taylor, Spencer and Hannah, and 4 great-grandchildren: Johnny, Asher, Alex and Jack and numerous nieces and nephews.

I’ll miss her terribly but am glad to have had her in my life for so many years and will continue to pay attention for her guidance from above. Love you Mom!


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