Peter Leaney has a memorial of cards and art created by his wife Mo, who passed away earlier this year. (Photo submitted)

Peter Leaney has a memorial of cards and art created by his wife Mo, who passed away earlier this year. (Photo submitted)

Lacombe resident says goodbye to his wife during pandemic

Peter Leaney was unable to visit his wife in long-term care due to health protocols

Yes dear. You’re right. I’m sorry. I love you.

These are the four phrases long-time Lacombe resident Peter Leaney said was the key to a 58-year loving marriage and a 60-year relationship between he and his wife Maureen Leaney (Mo).

Mo recently passed away after a long illness (not COVID-19). Tragically, Peter was unable to spend the majority of her final days with her due to the COVID-19 pandemic health regulations.

“It was becoming a 24-hour per day looking after her and eventually it got to a point where the home help here in Lacombe said that she needed to go into long-term care,” he said. “We got her into Bethany College in Red Deer and she was only there, unfortunately, for three weeks.”

Peter was unable to visit his wife due to the pandemic and he said making the choice to move his wife into a long-term care facility was the hardest choice he has ever had to make.

During her three weeks there, staff at Bethany was able to set up the Leaneys with a Facetime.

“I managed to talk to her three times. She didn’t know what she was doing with Facetime, but one of the nurses there helped her,” Peter said.

After three weeks, Peter got a call on a Tuesday saying Mo would have to be moved to the Red Deer Hospital.

“On the Wednesday, the hospital phoned and said you have to come now. I went straight to Red Deer. She was unresponsive, so I sat with her for three hours and then I came home. She didn’t know I was there,” he said.

“At 8:30 a.m. the following morning they phoned and said the had passed. I went there and sat with her for an hour.”

Peter said losing his wife was not easy — especially because he was unable to see her due to the virus — but he is thankful for the years he had with his wife and that he is a lucky man.

Peter and Mo met in England 60 years ago, where Peter was working at an ice rink and Mo was a figure skater. Peter loved hockey and eventually would become the Lacombe Generals’ skate technician, but he converted to a love of figure skating after meeting his future wife.

“I joined an ice show in Germany and then once she turned 18, she joined me there and we toured Europe and Scandinavia,” he said.

The couple would move back to England where they got married, had two children and then eventually moved to Red Deer in 1973. Four years later, the couple moved to Lacombe. During their time together in central Alberta – Peter worked with the Generals and at his own sports equipment shop, while Mo wrote books, created art and worked on pottery and porcelain figurines

“She helped me with what I was doing; I helped her what she was doing. When she was writing books — she would do the illustrations as well, so I would do the posing. When she was making people in clay, I would buy the clay and squish it up so that it was plyable for her to do what she did,” he said.

The couple would travel together and they both would be part of four Allan Cup winning hockey teams in Bentley and Lacombe. Former General Manager Jeff McInnis and Head Coach Sean Robertson both reached out to Peter after Mo passed away.

Peter wanted anybody going through a similar situation during the pandemic to have someone help them get set up with Facetime.

“I had people at Bethany College who were absolutely amazing and I call them my angels. One of them in particular — I gave her one of Mo’s figurines that look like an angel,” he said.

When the pandemic is over, Peter intends to hold a party for the community like his wife used to do.

“She was well-known for her parties. We will have a farewell. We will have one of Mo’s parties on her deck,” he said.

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