We remember and celebrate the life of Heather Mackintosh, who passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on April 18, 2022, after a stroke that was complicated by her chronic conditions.
Heather had a strong, warm, and adventurous heart in a frail body, as well as a Faith that was her rock throughout her life. Heather was born in BC and raised in Edmonton by parents Murray and Fern Watson. She grew up with her younger sister Shannon, and they spent many long days playing in the fields in what is now Edmonton’s west end. At home Heather was the loud one, always protesting when she felt mistreated by her parents, for example if she was told to wear a frilly dress and go to the prom! Heather enjoyed the summer RV trips that her family would take around Canada: in one memorable incident on Vancouver Island, the RV was stuck beside the road with a flat tire when a large motorcycle gang came rumbling over the hill. As her parents tried to lock the doors, Heather leapt out, waved down the motorcyclists, and loudly pleaded for help. The tire was fixed in no time!
As a teenager she was small, and a bit solitary until she met her BFF Tammy, which added fun and laughter to both their lives. Together they made the cut for the Alberta All Girls Drum and Bugle Band, a premier marching band that performed all over the world. During her audition they asked Heather why she stopped playing the trumpet; she answered, “Because I was practicing so hard my lips are bloody.” She was in! A high point for the band was performing at the 1974 FIFA World Cup finals in Munich.
Adventure has always beckoned to Heather. After high school, she joined the community service charity Katimavik, where she cleared trails in sub-sub-zero weather in Quebec. She has traveled around the world – Europe with her family, Hawaii (snorkeled with Sir Elton John!), Greece, Mexico, California, and Florida. Her most daring adventure was a six-week solo trip through Australia that included a first class flight using airline points and an 18-hour bus-ride across the desert. Heather especially loved visiting her parents-in-law at their home on the St Lawrence River and their lakeside cottage in Québec. And she always had an appreciation for a nice hotel room – maybe one with a separate suite and TV, and French toast on the room service menu!
When her kids were young, Heather started a business and collected a menagerie which she would take to schools and science exhibits to show to children. It was a perfect fit for Heather because children and animals took to her naturally. Her collection included snakes, lizards, a hedgehog, an iguana, a tarantula, a scorpion, and other animals. The question from the kids was always: Who would win, the tarantula or the scorpion? Answer: the scorpion would pop the spider! Heather developed an uncanny knack for reading the animals’ behavior and could calm any anxious creature – skills she applied to humans as well. She would always lend an ear to another person in crisis, make sure they felt heard, and help them gain clarity. She wasn’t above a bit of hootin’ and hollerin’ fun either: her children Lindsay and Graham remember her pulling donuts with the Corolla in an icy parking lot, and driving with the car windows and sunroof open, blasting rock music and singing along at top volume.
At an improv acting class that she took on impulse, Heather met her future husband and love of her life, David. He tied her shoelaces together for a ‘joke’, and she thought OMG, he likes me! They had their first kiss on stage, and were married just over a year later, in 1997. Over the 25 years of their marriage, Heather’s insight, empathy, and love helped David grow and heal, and he likewise provided physical care when her body was misbehaving.
For all her loving and joyful nature, Heather lived much of her life under the shadow of chronic illness and pain – “the career that chooses you”, they call it. Her doctors referred to her as a ‘zebra’, the patient whose symptoms always went against the textbook. Among other conditions, she was diagnosed with Behçet’s disease, an autoimmune syndrome more commonly seen in Japan and Turkey. Over her life she had her fill of pain, hospitals, invasive tests, and, yes, several near-death experiences.
Towards the end of her life Heather’s health conditions started to catch up with her: it became more difficult for her to get out, more nerve-racking to take medical tests, and even harder to keep her appetite up. After her stroke, she spent her last weeks at home with her family and loved ones around her – still aware of everything going on in the house and providing coaching and scolding where appropriate! It was a time of total closeness and openness with her husband and family. She died one day short of her 25th wedding anniversary.
She was pre-deceased by her father Murray. She is mourned by her husband David; children Graham Tibbo and Lindsay Brennan (and Lindsay’s unborn baby Sloane); Mother Fern; sister Shannon and brother-in-law Jim; nieces Kayla, Samara, Jamie, Teal, Zoe, and Dee; nephews Ryan and Euan; parents-in-law Blu and Douglas; close friends Austynn, Jolenne, Shanice, Lori, and Yasemin; and many other extended and honorary family members.
Heather’s celebration of life was held on Friday May 6, 2022, at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Edmonton AB, www.stpauls-anglican.ca
In lieu of flowers, and in light of Heather’s love for and skill with kids, please consider making a donation in her memory to Kids Kottage, which serves children and families in crisis, https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/kids-kottage-foundation/
Serenity Funeral Service – South
780 450 0101