N.S. couple raising godchildren as their own after deaths of sister, brother-in-law
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2018 12:40PM ADT
When people are asked to be godparents, they rarely expect they will have to step in and become parents to their godchildren, but that’s the new reality for one Nova Scotia family.
Jennifer Strowbridge lost her sister, Heather Farthing, to a rare form of cancer four years ago. Now she is also mourning the loss of her brother-in-law, Norm Farthing, who died suddenly last month.
Their deaths have left the couple’s two children, 11-year-old Ethan and eight-year-old Lauren, in the care of their aunt and uncle, who already have two children of their own.
“Ethan and Lauren have no parents. Both parents have died, and it’s up to us to make sure that they have a good life and that they are loved,” said an emotional Strowbridge during an interview at her Middle Sackville, N.S., home.
“We didn’t imagine that this day could ever come. I mean, losing Heather was beyond devastating, and we’ve tried our best to keep her memory alive for the children, and now we’ve been faced with the unimaginable.”
When Heather Farthing was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Strowbridge says the community rallied around the family and created a team called “Heather’s Hope.” Over the years, the team has raised $60,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.
Strowbridge says the same friends and family members are stepping up again, helping to fill their cupboards with food and raise money for her family, as they face more heartbreak.
“We have lots of friends that are close by that have really stepped up and helped us,” she said. “I call them my village.”
That “village” has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for the family. Strowbridge says she plans to buy a larger vehicle and build an addition onto their home to accommodate their growing family.
“My home is not configured for a family of six, and so that is a little stressful,” she said.
Until then, Strowbridge says she is focusing on the little things, like doing dishes and keeping up with the laundry, and is taking things day by day.
“We have no choice but to move forward. We learned four years ago that it’s important to take things hour by hour, day by day,” she said.
“For the kids’ sake, and for all of our sake, we have to just put one foot in front of the other.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelly Linehan