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Celebrating the life of a sports mom and a community volunteer

Christmas is approaching, but today it feels like a combination of three days - Mother's Day, Remembrance Day, and a day to recognize over-the-top volunteerism.

Christmas is approaching, but today it feels like a combination of three days - Mother's Day, Remembrance Day, and a day to recognize over-the-top volunteerism.

Today, an outstanding woman will be remembered, one who never got a headline, one who never had a feature story written about her. It can be hard to quantify the contributions of a sports mom when there are no statistics or standings that can be called on.

Many knew Sandra Catherine Hawes as Sandie, but more, including myself, knew her as Mrs. Hawes, mother of two sons, Mike and Chris, who went on to play in the Western Hockey League. Beyond that, most knew Mrs. Hawes, who was born in Montreal in 1948, as that ever-looming presence around the rink, around the ballpark, or around the schools, giving a hand whenever possible.

The name "Sandie H." was listed on more volunteer lists over the years than anyone would dare to count.

Aside from seeing her at the rink during minor hockey games this fall, or at a ballpark for youth baseball this past summer, the last time I got to sit and talk with Mrs. Hawes, more than just a friendly hello, was at Citizen Field, as she helped Audrey Foster with all sorts of duties. There was never a need to ask what those two were up to - you knew that whatever it was, it was getting done, and to a high standard.

Mrs. Hawes didn't even let a smashed windshield, the product of a foul ball, slow her step a bit. Laughed it off, basically, and kept on serving the needs of the event. She actually found it funny that a child had the gall to ask if he could have the ball that had left shards of glass in its wake.

She laughed, then kept on helping out. That's how it's done around here. It just is.

None of this even touches on her long tenure as a payroll administrator at Yellowhead Road and Bridge (YRB). She worked at YRB before the company even existed, when that work was done by a wing of the government.

I'm sure Mrs. Hawes's best memories were of attending all of her sons' hockey and ball games, home or away, and the friendships with other parents. But she had reason to smile about a high-profile assignment during the 2000 Scott Tournament of Hearts, the women's national curling championship that was held at what was then known as the Multiplex. She was charged with taking care of every need for the Team Canada rink skipped by Colleen Jones, and Mrs. Hawes pulled that off to perfection.

"She was always very supportive, went on every road trip, and was always the first one to defend us if she thought me or my brother was wronged in any way, shape or form," said Mike, managing a chuckle.

"She curled for years, she enjoyed golfing, and anything she took on as a volunteer she really put her heart and soul into it. She had a lot of friends in the local sports circles, that's for sure."

There wasn't an opportunity to pitch in that Mrs. Hawes didn't miss over the adult portion of her 62 years - far too young - and it took that scourge called cancer to lift her away from the grandchildren who knew her so well - Riley, Jaxson, Jessica and the most recent addition to the family, Cooper.

As much as her sons, and indeed a community, will miss her, it is her grandchildren who will miss out on getting to know a fabulous woman even better than they already did.

Mrs. Hawes, who passed away a week ago today, will be remembered at a service today at 1 p.m. at Assman's Funeral Chapel. She will be talked about in the fondest of terms, and never forgotten. Here's hoping there are enough seats for all those who want to say farewell.