(November 16, 1944—January 18, 2021)
Ida (nee Harkema) Vanderploeg passed away peacefully in her home at Heron Grove in Vernon, January 18, 2021 at the age of 76.
Ida was born November 16, 1944 in Workum, Friesland, Holland to Rienk and Hinke Harkema. Her family emigrated to Canada in 1947 and moved to the small community of Houston, BC, where she grew up with seven siblings, went to school, and got married to John Vanderploeg in 1963. In their early years of marriage, Ida and John spent time in Grand Rapids Michigan, Oshawa Ontario, Houston, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam and Port Moody. During this time, they had two children, Sue and Randy. They settled in Quesnel, BC in the summer of 1973. In 1988 their first grandchild Josh was born, followed by Jonathan in 1991. Ida and John separated in 1996, and Ida moved to Enderby in 1998. In 2006, due to health complications, Ida moved to an assisted living room at Heron Grove in Vernon, where she was cared for kindly and beautifully by the nurses and staff until the day she passed away.
When Ida was 25 years old, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Up to that point, she was a healthy, vibrant young woman with a positive outlook on life. Despite the challenges, she refused to allow the MS to control her, and continued in her characteristic “stubborn Dutchman” attitude. She considered herself one of the lucky ones who was not in a wheelchair early in life, but instead had the type of MS where symptoms came and went. When she was feeling healthy, she was active in her church, taught Pioneer Girls, and was a camp counsellor. She welcomed the youth group into her home and cooked Chinese food for up to fifty of them, she baked the best bread and apple pie, was a listening ear to anyone who wanted to come over for a cup of tea, chatted with the cashiers at the grocery store, and loved to laugh. She liked to take drives with her family and pick blueberries, which she would later make into blueberry pies. She enjoyed listening (and dancing) to music like Tennessee Ernie Ford, Donna Fargo, Chopin and Tom Jones. She liked to play cards, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. She loved to read and spent many hours reading to her young grandsons, who adored her. She was known for her knitted stuffed penguins, which many children have enjoyed.
Ida’s life was not an easy one. Her dad (Rienke Harkema) passed away when she was eight years old, leaving her mother Hinke (Canadian name Helen) to raise eight children on her own. During the years of her adult life, other family members also passed away: her Mom (Helen Harkema), her sister Helen (and husband Fred) Euverman, and her brothers Tom (survived by wife Ruth) Harkema, Martin (survived by wife Connie) Harkema, and brother-in-law Bernie (survived by wife Wilma) Van Rhyn. She also struggled against the MS, gradually losing mobility and having to deal with the frustrations of not always having control over her own body. Eventually, she was unable to live independently, and moved into Heron Grove. The final chapter of her life became one of complete dependence on nursing staff, struggles with dementia and physical challenges. Towards the end, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which was ultimately the cause of her passing. Despite the challenges she encountered throughout her lifetime, Ida is remembered by her friends and nursing staff as being a friendly, positive person who refused to give up.
Ida leaves behind her brother Bill (Anne) Harkema, her sisters Wilma Van Rhyn, Julia (George) Regnerus, Bertha Anchikoski, and Nancy (Clark) Beavington, her daughter Sue (John) Matheson, son Randy Vanderploeg, grandchildren Josh (Kyra) Matheson and Jonathan Matheson, great grandchildren Georgia, Rebecca and Julia, as well as many nieces, nephews, and other family members.
Ida had always had a strong Christian faith, and this carried her through until the end, trusting that she would be home with her Saviour in perfect peace, comfort and joy. In the words of Ida’s favourite hymn, “It is well with my soul”.