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A Valiant Struggle to 100


Agnes Ellert sitting in a chair on the back deck of our house.
Agnes Anne Ellert at her 99th birthday party.

On Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 1:45 PM, Agnes Anne Ellert gave up her struggle just ten hours before her 100th birthday.

Her favourite PSW, Tania, noticed that same morning that her eyes had changed colour, and spent the morning holding her hand. When Aggie took her last breath, she looked at Tania as if to say goodbye with a nod, closed her eyes and left.

I don’t think I ever appreciated what the Personal Service Workers do until I spent so much time with Aggie this past month.

We all told her that if she made it to her 100th birthday, we would have a party to celebrate. On one of her good days, Aggie smiled and said, “I will need a new dress.

One morning Tania came in and encouraged Aggie to stay with us saying, “Don’t go anywhere, Aggie.” Aggie responded weakly, “Where else would I go… I’ll be right here.”

Two weeks ago when we arrived in the morning Aggie said, “God wanted to take me last night, but I told Him NO – I wanted to stay for my 100th birthday party.” She never ceased to amaze us with her humour and love of life.

Baby Agnes sitting on a blanket with arm around a stuffed doggie.
Baby Agnes loved dogs her whole life.

When Aggie was confined to her bed and could no longer eat, the PSWs care in bathing her, changing her position, and soothing her was unbelievable.

They went above and beyond my expectations in their loving strokes of her forehead and caring words in a soothing tone. One night I spent the night by her side. Every two hours the PSWs came in to change her position, make sure she was comfortable and had no pain.

They did that and so much more – all with their caring strokes and words.

Aggie sitting at her desk at Electrohome.
Aggie worked in the Customs Dept. at Electrohome for over 40 years.

During that last month, there were a few close calls, but Aggie always made it through.

In the last few days before her demise, all of the staff who had worked with her since she arrived there almost two years ago, trickled in to say their goodbyes.

I watched them through my tears as they paid their respects. One of the younger ones told me that Aggie was the grandmother she never had; there were others who said she was a friend and a dear companion to them.

They loved her quiet sense of humour, as well as her love and pride in her family. They knew as she looked at all of her pictures set up in her room, that her family was everything to her.

What absolutely amazed me were the relationships she had cultivated in her two short years in The Westmount. Despite her dementia, the real Aggie would always emerge so she could get to know the people who cared for her every day.

Aggie sitting at a patio table surrounded by her family.
Aggie surrounded by her family at her 90th birthday party.

Whenever I visited she would say, ” Now when is our next party? When will we get together as a family again?” I always told her that the next party would be her 100th birthday party.

Aggie would smile and say, “Oh my! I can’t believe I will be 100 years old!” Then she would smile and I knew she could hardly wait.

The day before the party, we had her balloons, cupcakes, and wine ready to celebrate that momentous occasion.

What a valliant struggle she waged and she was so tiny – not quite 80 pounds, but her spirit was indomitable! Aggie was a very strong woman – I looked up to her almost as a superhero. She will be sorely missed and never forgotten.


Dear Aggie


God saw you getting tired

He stretched out his hand

Beckoned you on in

To His Forever Land.

Aggie and Anne sitting in lawn chairs with John standing behind.
Aggie with Anne & John enjoying a drink at the cottage in Port Dover.


You loved life – you loved a party

You loved family and you had it all

One hundred years worth

Before that final call –

To His divine arms above.

Aggie and Mae sitting together at the dinner table.
Aggie and her sister Mae just loved Oktoberfeste!


You fought so hard to stay

In tears we saw you sinking

We watched you fade away

Love kept bringing you back

Courage you did not lack

But strong will was yours

To the very end.

Two hands clasped together.
Aggie’s hand holding Great-nephew Dominic’s hand in the week before she died.


We love you Aggie for all you were… forevermore.


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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