July 12, 1939 – March 17, 2023
Christina Docherty was born July 12 in1939, UK, a dark and threatening time. Money was scarce but there was singing in her family home. Light entered through song.
Christina, who usually went by Chris, or Mrs. G to her children’s friends, grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and married James Patrick Gentle. They had one child, Sally, then another, James, before crossing an ocean to Canada, then the U.S., then back to Canada again. A third child, Irene, arrived in those travelling years.
There was singing in this family home, and books. Christina bestowed the joy of reading to her children, so they grew up roaming universes. In time books became her work, at the Brampton Library. A supporter of libraries to the last, a new stack entered her home the day she went to the hospital, the first in decades to go unread.
She learned to swim, dunking her head underwater for the first time in her 40s. It’s one thing to do this as a child, as an adult it’s an act of will. Those same years presented the need to drive a manual transmission. One glorious crash through the garage into the living room later, she nailed it.
An avid follower of sports and current events, she had a thought on pretty much anything. Don’t like my opinion? No problem, I have another, she’d say. And she did.
Generally practical, she nonetheless placed onions on our childhood staircases to ward off, well, who can say, really. Her leaning toward justice showed sometimes strangely, such as the head of a pro-democracy leader cut from a magazine that stared valiantly up at us for months.
She had adventures, separating from James in her 50s, moving to Nova Scotia in her 60s, before being pulled back to Ontario to be closer to her children.
She had joys, primarily her beloved grandchildren Amanda and Alyssa Drew and Charles Wallace Gentle. Her warm, kindred relationship with son-in-law Matt Jackson, her enjoyment at sharing the wonder of science and space with son-in-law Raymond Drew. And clocks. So many clocks, mostly noisy, timed a minute or so off from each other so whirs, cuckoos and gongs chime forever. She loved sparkle, glitter that cuts through dark, like her pure, unconstrained laugh.
She had sadness. The infinite loneliness that comes from being far from the country and family she was raised in. The loss of her parents, Chrissie and Harry Docherty, the loss of her brother, also Harry Docherty, and finally, most excruciatingly, of her treasured son Jim in October 2022. Her world dimmed. It was again a dark, threatening time.
She fell ill in March. Illness was new to her. She faced it, books and music at her bedside like guardians, with characteristic curiosity and courage, more incredulous than scared. I’ve had a good life, she said. I’ve no regrets, I feel lucky.
She died suddenly and unexpectedly on a day of soft rain in the same hospital her son had died in less than six months before her, their unbreakable bond made eternal.
Her loss tears wider and deeper the gap in our universe. She is fiercely missed by all mentioned above as well as Brenda Docherty, Claire, Robert, Kate, Sarah and their lovely families; Chantal Ayotte (predeceased by Jim Gentle); Ann Sachuk (predeceased by Nick Sachuk, Patrick and Jean Gentle); all who knew her as Mrs. G; her former library colleagues and more.
She encouraged us to enjoy every moment and be kind to ourselves and others. She requested no service but was always up for a song. She’d sing if she knew the words, and clap along. That’s how light enters.