In the loving hands of Janet, Hans's eternal spirit passed to the Creator on Saturday, November 16th, 2019, at Bethesda Regional Health Centre, Steinbach, Manitoba.
Hans will be lovingly remembered by his wife Janet Blatz, his parents Willie & Helen Friesen, three brothers, three sisters and their families, as well as by Janet's entire family. Hans was predeceased by one nephew a year ago, and by a sister in childhood.
Hans was a person of great integrity, with a sensitive heart that felt the pain of those around him. He recognized those who were marginalized or disadvantaged, finding quiet and unpretentious ways to improve their lives with gifts of his time, the labor of his hands, or validating another's worth through conversation and his presence.
Hans's giftedness and creativity was expressed through the beautiful wood projects that he created in his tidy work space; from timber frame living spaces, to counters, intricate wood flooring, shelves and benches. Many of our homes or businesses are graced with the work of his hands. Hans said his work was his prayer. Hans was a problem solver, always looking for ways to improve, fix, or somehow make something more efficient. His meticulous work ethic and perfectionism made him an exceptional craftsman. During his lifetime, this same perfectionism at times, brought great pain to him, by the unshakeable perception that 'it' or 'he' was never good enough.
Hans had an appreciation for wholesome flavorful food of many ethnic varieties and loved Janet's creative culinary pursuits often accompanying them by a gentle appreciative moan. From their travels, he fondly recounted the sounds of dishes and the tinkling of cups down narrow cobble stone streets. He loved music, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, CBC radio, good coffee, croissants, intimate coffee shops, craft beer, Sunday Breakfast Club, and meals with Janet on the beautiful deck near the oak tree; and in times past, West Coast camping and hiking, fishing with his brothers or friends, mountain bike racing , and living off the grid. Someday he thought that he might like to cycle to the west coast with Janet, since they had cycled to the east coast many years ago, in 1994. He enjoyed walks in the woods on their property, methodically splitting firewood with an axe, and inhaling the smell of damp leaves. He supported pursuits like building the Five Star chicken coop with Janet, and food troughs for Janet's herd of 3 pigs. He even built beautiful spaces for Cocoa and the kitties, like the Cat Dog Condo. He enjoyed watching the birds come to the feeders which he strategically mounted to provide the best observation points from inside the house. Learning of the life pursuits of nieces and nephews and listening to the adventures of the young folks in his life, gave him joy. He loved being surrounded by family and friends.
Hans was a gentle host, making and serving coffee to guests in their home, always remembering the details of how you preferred it. He effortlessly provided for your wants, often realizing only after you left, how gracefully he had accomplished this.
On October 9th, 2019, Hans was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The rapid decline that followed redirected their lives, dreams and plans for the future. More projects, more morning walks together, the anticipation of more time together were replaced with the harsh realities of the cruel disease. Time became more precious. There was no time left for empty conversations. Their walks were replaced with hospital bedside conversations, sifting the ephemeral from the eternal. Vulnerability replaced stoicism. He wept for his own pain and the pain of others. He shared his pain and forgave others for the inflictions, known and unknown.
Even as his days became more difficult, he strove to retain a sense of order, daily. In his last days Hans was surrounded by family and friends who came to make true, on his request of claiming the moments for meaningful interactions. Time changed meaning. Dreams of the future were supplanted with just making it through the next hour.
The morning of Nov 15th, in the throes of his labored breathing, Hans and Janet said their beautiful goodbyes. Holding each other's heads in their hands they reminded each other of their love. "I love you so much, Janet." "Hans, I have always loved you. Thank you for choosing me. You are free to go, Hans. Free to go. I will be okay." "Jan, you are free to love again."
Hans, we will miss you so much. You have touched so many of our lives. Your legacy lives on.
We thank the nursing, medical staff and the Palliative Care Team at Bethesda who provided care to allow Hans the greatest comfort and dignity in his final hours.
The Celebration of Life will be held Friday, November 22, 2019, at 7:00 p.m., at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB. Ash interment will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Birchwood Funeral Chapel to help assist the family with funeral expenses.