There is a happy ending for an Edmonton family whose memorial bench to two late family member had gone missing, and it seems the experience has brought the family closer together.
Angie Depner, who installed the bench at Blackmud Creek Ravine in memory of her late husband and father, said the missing bench was found Saturday.
The family had dedicated the bench to Ken Depner, Angie’s husband who fought brain cancer for a year, and Ed Stabel, Angie’s father who fought prostate cancer for three years.
It had been set up in a scenic spot in the ravine – a spot enjoyed by both men – but went missing at the end of July.
On Saturday, Angie said she received an email from someone in the community saying the bench may have been found.
“She had noticed two little legs sticking out of the creek about 25 feet down from where it had originally sat,” Angie said.
“The last 48 hours, the water has really gone down in the creek so we were able to see it then.”
The family believes that the bench was tossed from where it sat on the ravine then floated downstream to where it eventually came to a rest upside-down in the creek.
“At first, it was actually really upsetting. We were happy it was found. But it just made us really sad that someone or some people would vandalize it in that way,” Angie said.
The family, along with an aunt, uncle and cousins, quickly jumped into action. Angie’s son Noah threw a swimsuit on then the family grabbed an inflatable raft and headed to the ravine.
“I had one rope attached back to the shore and one rope that I was going to tie around the foot get it out. But it was really, really stuck down in there,” Noah said.
“Then I see my uncle…walked his way there. I’m like, ok. I hopped on out . We pried the bench on up, sat on it for a quick little photo opportunity then carried it back over to clean it up.”
Photos from after the recovery show the bench on a wheelbarrow while family members carried the raft and paddles.
“We…spent the afternoon just rinsing it and scrubbing it. It was a whole family event. There must have been around 10 of us. Most of us were just there for advice and cheering,” Angie said.
“Obviously this isn’t the worst thing we’ve had to work together through but…it was a cool experience putting that on Mother’s Day, building it together, walking it all down and then retrieving it all together with the same group,” Noah said.
“It does bring you close together and sometimes laugh at the absurdity of it all.”
The recovery mission was clearly a family affair, one that Angie thinks her husband and father would find amusing.
“I think they would just be laughing at us. Something that was so upsetting to us was actually really fun. It brought us together as a family. We could share some laughs as it was quite funny seeing some of our family in the water trying to drag out,” Angie said.
“It did bring us some well-needed laughs.”
The family plans to re-stain the bench, which is in otherwise good condition, and brainstorm better methods of anchoring it; they plan to re-install the bench within a week and a half.
Angie has these words for those responsible.
“Really think about one’s actions. When we do careless things like that – to take someone’s property or to vandalize it – it’s already quite often to a family that is hurting already. Think of the impact it would make,” Angie said.
She also has these words of advice for other Edmontonians who may want to honour their loved ones with a bench or something similar.
“Remind yourself that things can happen to it and not to take it personally if someone does do something to it or take it. It is being put out with a risk but it doesn’t change the memory of those loved ones. Try and protect your heart that way, to go in with those expectations,” Angie said.
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