In Memory of our daughter, Robyn Petra Hill

Our precious daughter, Robyn Petra, entered our arms on June 17, 1985 and then left us to go to heaven, safe in the arms of Jesus, on July 12, 2022. On this page, I will be posting photos and written memories of our beautiful 3rd daughter. Robyn leaves her sons, William and Thomas, and their dad, Alex Bates, as well as her parents, Lionel and Norma Hill, and her siblings, Taryn Allen, Sarah McBride, Wendy Hill, and Peter Hill — as well as so many beloved extended family, and dear friends. We will always remember Robyn with love, and look forward to meeting her again in eternity.

I am starting with some memories and a letter I have written in the past, and some song lyrics that have been a comfort to me in these difficult days. Please feel free to check back again for photos, thanks, and other writing which I will add in the coming days.

This first memory was written by me, Norma, on May 18, 2007. It is called: “R is for Robyn.”

Robyn Petra … according to baby name books, the meaning of these two names together is a bright shining stone. When I think of a bright shining stones, what comes to mind? Agates of golden and reddish and even jet-black hues reflecting the sun and creating warm shimmering little lights among masses of cold slate-gray pebbles on a wild north Pacific beach. A deep blood-red ruby, surrounded by tiny diamonds, set into the soft gold of my engagement ring, a daily reminder of deep and enduring love and commitment. A sparkling, multi-faceted diamond set in a plush black velvet case, its prismatic edges showering a rainbow of light slivers, for many the epitome of beauty and value. The legendary sword Excalibur, buried to it’s hilt in the stone, sunlight pouring down from above, as Arthur pulls it from the stone which has long held it, proving himself to be the true King.

My third daughter bears the names, Robyn Petra, and in so many ways she has proven herself to indeed be a bright shining stone. Like an agate shimmering among uncounted plain gray pebbles, Robyn is unique, and stands out among the crowd. Not content to go with the flow, she strives always to reach her full potential in everything she attempts. She refuses to just shrug, and accept things as they are, but instead tries to understand, and if possible, to brighten the world, by finding ways to make positive improvements. As agates come in many different hues, so Robyn has many different moods and many different aspects. One moment she may be golden softly bright, at another moment strong and warm-blooded red, and yet at another moment like a storm-black sky with sudden streaks of lightning thundering across it. But never is Robyn dull, cold gray. Robyn’s world is rarely a gentle pastoral scene, but rather it seems that her life is often set against a world that is wild and powerful, like that north Pacific beach, and yet she stands in it like a warm, sparkling little gem, even when its rough waves come pounding down over her.

Robyn Petra is also like my ruby engagement ring. The average engagement ring features a diamond at the center, bright and clear and sparkling, but Robyn is, like my ring, unique. The deep red of the ruby draws the eye deep into the stone, rather than just admiring the surface sparkles. And the red of the ruby is the red of blood, warm and coursing and full of life. Robyn is like that. She thinks deeply, never taking people or ideas at face value. She has a strong sense of justice, and expects the same from those around her. Her mind is alive and active, and she is full of life. And like my engagement ring, she is deeply committed to the things she believes in, and enduringly loyal and loving in true relationships, choosing quality over quantity. Sometimes, though, she can be hurt when others do not understand or accept her depth and passion, and then, like the ruby when it catches a bright ray of light, she can flash like a sword slashing suddenly out from its hilt.

Robyn Petra, my bright shining stone, is strong, like a diamond. And like a diamond, her strength can be turned to great purposes, as she creates things and influences people around her. But its cuts can also cause pain. Yet, as the facets of her life have been refined and perfected, more and more her strength has developed the beauty and value that are found in a perfectly cut diamond. Even in her natural appearance, Robyn is like a diamond. She stands strong and tall, and has beautiful form and great natural beauty. There are some who think that the beauty of a diamond is stark and cold, but Robyn is not like that. She is beautiful and warm and valuable, and more and more, she spreads around her a rainbow of encouragement, and thoughtfulness, and other fine character qualities.

Finally, Robyn is like the stone which held the sword Excalibur. She possesses and holds character qualities and talents and skills of great value. But she does not easily release them to just anyone, anytime. She is cautious and watchful, waiting for those events and people in which she sees the potential for working together, caring together, striving together, in truth and justice and strength, to create a world that is a better place.

This is my daughter, Robyn Petra, a bright shining stone.

I found this second memory when I was going through Robyn’s things after she flew away. I wrote her this letter on July 20, 1998, when she was just entering her teenage years. Twenty-four years later, it is still as true as the day I wrote it to her.

My dearest baby Robyn,

It seems no tie has passed since I walked into the Kelowna Hospital nursery and saw all those women admiring that “Indian baby” — and I was soooo proud to push through and pick you up and announce you were mine!

We had so many possible names picked out, but right away I knew you were my little Robyn, my precious little songbird bringing the music of life into our lives. How like a robin you were, right from the beginning — strong; bright and early; seeking attention, then flitting away which others come too close; facing the stormy winters of life bravely when others fly away to an easier place; bringing a bright flash of colour into our lives, as the robin’s red breast brightens the dull winter landscape; always busy, always searching, always being the “early bird who gets the worm.”

How I loved you as I proudly held you at your birth, gazing at your tiny face, listening with amazement to your vigorous howls, an instant predictor of the strength and determination you carried within. And you would cuddle up to me, seeking warmth and security — then abruptly pull away, asserting your individuality and independence. And so you have always been — two sides, one longing for childhood security, peacefulness, the safety of the next and the mother robin’s wings tucked around you; the other side demanding to escape the nest, to be noticed, to spread your wings, to fly bravely and fearlessly. Always that tension. And through it all, the beautiful music of your life has wrapped around me, and I gaze still today upon you in awe and wonder, as well as a sense of helplessness, as I did on that wonderful day of your birth.

I gaze with pride at your accomplishments — your ability in sports, in music, in writing, in education.

I am filled with delight when I see the things you do to please me — the beautiful clean house, the heady scent of freshly mowed grass, the sparkle of clean dishes, the neatness of folded laundry.

My heart sings within me as I listen to you play the piano — and sometimes the music can’t help but burst out of my lips as I sing joyfully along!

And sometimes, too, my heart constricts. It constricts with sorrow as I see you struggle with the unkindness of people, with the unfairness that life throws your way.

It constricts with love and concern, as I watch you try to sort through the meaning of life, as I watch you struggle — as I do, too — with the concept of a loving God in a messed up world.

How I long to reach out and pull you into my arms when I see you confused, when I see you angry, when I see you hurting — like the mother robin, I long to draw my little robin into the safety of the nest, nestle you into the soft down lining its depths, spread my wings securely over you, protecting you from the storms of life, from the hungry predators, from the bumps and bruises and tumbles that inevitably buffet you as you spread your wings and learn to fly; even to shield you from the cries of the other nestlings as they compete for my attention, which they also need. Often, when they succeed, I see you there, tottering on the edge, eyes wide with a mingling of fear and pain of rejection–and I stretch out my wing to pull you into the safety of my breast, tight against my heart — and yet so often when that happens, you beat your little wings and fly precariously out of the nest, hovering just beyond the reach of my wings, and I am caught in a dilemma; do I fly from the nest and catch you? And if I do, will you rsent me treating you like a baby, or will you gladly return? Or do I stay on the nest, continuing to protect all my little nestlings, and simply stretch out my wing and hope you will come willingly into my embrace?

I see your inner strength, your independence, fueled by your hurt and anger, pulling you away; yet I also see your loving nature, your need for security and mother-love, pulling you back. I watch the tension play itself out; I watch anxiously, praying that you will find within yourself a balance, an “eye of calm in the storm” between the two sides of your nature. I pray to the Lord that He will show Himself to you; that you will come to find that only in Him, in your Creator, He who loves you more than words can tell, who loves you with a great and perfect and everlasting love; only in Him will you truly find that place of rest, that place of security that never fails, yet always allows you to test your wings, to sail forth along the paths of the winds, to bless the world with your life.

Oh how I love you, my precious little Robyn. Oh how I want to protect you and hold you and save you from the pain of life. Yet all I can do is be there for you. Please know that I am here to encourage you, to hold your hand and steady you, to hug you close, to dry your tears, to cheer you on — if only you’ll let me.

But know also, that as great as my love for you is — and it is so strong I feel like I might burst — I, too, am weak and small, and just testing my own wings. I, too, am human, and am always, always, just a child, growing, learning, but also tiring, making mistakes, needing security and love and forgivenss. So come to me, my precious baby — but when I fail you, as I so often do, though it breaks my heart, then turn always to your loving Heavenly Father, who will never leave you, never forsake you, never fail you. Just hold His hand. I love you!

Your mama robin

Our dear Robyn was always so musical. She loved to express her feelings in song, posting her favourites on her Facebook page. In the days after Robyn flew away to glory, songs have comforted me greatly, as well as messages from so many family and friends. Below are a number of songs that have held me together in these difficult, lonely days. I also want to thank, from my heart, Judy Smith of Old Massett, who sang the Haida Prayer Song in the Haida language (Xaad Kil) for Lionel and I. It was such a comfort to us both.

“My beautiful home, my beautiful home, where the glorified ever shall roam; where angels bright wear robes of white, my home is there, my home is there.” (Lionel’s sister Kathy passed away two days after Robyn’s passing; Marina Jones sang this song at Kathy’s hospital bedside, and expressed to us of how dear Auntie/Naanii Kathy had gone to be with and take care of our little Robyn.)

“Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like You; if heaven’s not my home, then Lord, what shall I do? The angels beckon me from heaven’s golden shore, and I can’t be at home in this world anymore.” (This has been Robyn’s longing for so, so long. She is finally at peace and rest, safe in the arms of Jesus, and all her loved ones who have gone on before.)

“God sent his Son, they called him Jesus, He came to love, heal and forgive; He bled and died to buy my pardon; An empty grave is there to prove my Saviour lives … And because He lives, I can face tomorrow; Because he lives, all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives … How sweet to hold our newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy she gives; but sweeter still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because He lives … And then one day I’ll cross the river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain; And then as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives ….” (We sang this song for each of our children when we dedicated them to Jesus).

Robyn was very close to her grandfather, William Wright. The following was his favourite song; we sang it at his Celebration of Life; and I know that he and Robyn must be singing it together in heaven: “Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away; to a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away. I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away; When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away … Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away; to a land where joys will never end, I’ll fly away.” (Yes, she is there with her dear grandparents and so many other beloved ones who passed on before).

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see … ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed … Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home …The moon shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forebear to shine, But God who called me here below will be forever mine … When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing His praise, than when we first begun.”

“There’s a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar, for the Father waits over the way, to prepare us a dwelling place there …. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore; In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore … We shall sing on that beautiful shore, the melodious songs of the blessed, And our spirit shall sorrow no more, Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.”

And finally, a song that has meant to much to me through the trials of life: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul … And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend; Even so, it is well with my soul.”

We would like to thank everyone who so kindly supported us in the recent loss of our precious daughter Robyn, and our very dear sister Kathy Bell. The amazing and generous support happened in so very many ways, and while we have tried to keep track of everything, we’re of course afraid we might have missed someone, and for that we are very sorry. Thank you all so very much. (I am including a more detailed list in my memory page for Robyn at https://penandpapermamatoo.com/in-memory-of-our-daughter-robyn-petra-hill/  I hope you’ll find your names there and know how much we appreciate your love and care; and if I’ve somehow missed you, please forgive me. It’s been an overwhelming experience, and my memory is a bit fuzzy, I’m afraid.) Thank you, thank you, all.

Sympathy cards: Deb Morrow; Brian & Marion Plester; SonRise Gathering group, Maureen Kresfelder.

Sympathy comments on Facebook Messenger, in Facebook comments and posts, and by email: So, so many people have expressed sympathy on these sites, and we thank each of you. We have saved the messages, and we look forward to revisiting them many times in the future. Thank you for those who allowed us to use their internet while we were on Haida Gwaii and on Vancouver Island. Also, phone calls from Joan Davidson, my Uncle Preston & Kerry, and others.

Jars and cans of salmon, crab, jiltz, ghow, etc.: Marina Jones, Brenda Abrahams; Sandra Marks and her daughters; Barb Humphries and Belinda (and the items we couldn’t bring with us, from James Davis, and from Sid D). Thank you to Samantha Bell for making a delicious salmon soup with the freshly caught salmon we were given by Sid’s friend.

Cedar headbands for us and for our grandsons: Irvin Russ (also feathers), Lee Quocksister (also fabric headbands and key chains)

A beautiful paddle from Alvin Bell.

Songs and prayers: So many people have prayed for us, and we appreciate them all. A special thanks to Judy Smith for singing the Haida prayer song for us (and for the “Every Child Matters” t-shirts for our grandsons), and for Marina for singing “My Beautiful Home” and Marina and Lily for their prayers at the hospital before we left to catch the ferry.

Flowers from Tylor Havard and the Belangers.

Other items: Fruit bowl and coffee card from the Morrows; beautiful mugs for us and our children from Florence Davidson.

A special thanks to Alex Bates, the father of our grandsons William and Thomas (Alex, you did so incredibly much for all of us), to his family who cared for us and shared their homes with us (Gail & Kevin, sister Melissa), and to Robyn’s friends (especially Cherie Ryan who looked after Robyn in her last days), who all helped us so very much in Campbell River. Thank you to Rose Robinson and her family for sharing their home with us in Victoria.

Financial gifts to help with travel and funeral expenses: Adeline & Bruce Brown; Eric and Aaron Edgars; Kris Bellamy; Sid Davidson; Florence Davidson; Leo Gagnon; Leona Hill and Todd; Randy & Marilyn Wright; Taryn Lowe; Damien Abrahams; Trish Collison. Also, the many financial gifts provided through a friend’s Go Fund Me for our grandsons, and financial gifts provided to them by the fellow-nurses and friends of Robyn in Campbell River. And gift cards from our SonRise Gathering family.

Thank you, Samantha, for all your help with getting the ferry reservations changed.

Thank you to all the folks who invited us into their homes on Haida Gwaii: Alvin & Kathy and Samantha and Ben and Richard B. (and those who visited us there—Joanna Ivany, Barb Humphries, Ellis Edgars, James Turner …); Sid Davidson and family; Choc Edenshaw and Randy Russ; Harold Yeltatzie and his friend James; Eric and Aaron Edgars; Marshall Russ; Henry, Thomas, Becky Dix; John Yeltatzie; Alvin Edwards; Mike Oeschlager, Daphne and Martin, and Bruce & Adeline.  And to all the beloved friends and to all the Bell family members who came to the hospital (special hugs to Alvin Jr and hugs to those we didn’t get to see: Tracy & Dorcas), and thanks to those who brought sandwiches for the family. Also, to those we had good conversations with on the ferry coming and going, and at Tim’s in Prince Rupert (such as Steven Samuels, Richard Smith, Mitchell and Marshall Russ, Aaron Edgars, Irvin Russ ….) and others we met in stores and so on, such as George Yeltatzie, Georgia, Lawrence J., Brenda Abrahams, Sarah Davidson …. Apologies to anyone I may have missed in this list.

Thank you to friends of Robyn who came to the Celebration of Life to be with our family: Kelsie, Lee Quocksister, Tylor Harvard, Cherie Ryan, and others.

Thank you, Stewart & Sylvia Wright, for taking us out to dinner when we got home. And to Rose Robinson’s family for the breakfast foods you provided us for our trip home.

And of course, all our beautiful children and grandchildren who have supported us so strongly in this time of loss.

(Again, I’m so sorry if I missed you in this list).