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Matriarch, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, volunteer. Born Nov. 28, 1922, in Ladysmith, B.C., died March 25, 2012, in Saskatoon of heart failure, aged 89.

Esther Marie Moore was born in Ladysmith, B.C., the only child of Prina Sophia Battie, whose family came from Piedmont in Italy, and Ambrose Atkins Moore, called "Dinty," who was descended from a long line of Brits.

On the evidence of photographs, Marie (she never liked her given name) was an adorable child. She grew into a beautiful woman.

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Her father, a patriot who had served in the Ambulance Corps in the First World War, had the habit of inviting servicemen back to the house for breakfast after church. On one of those occasions, Marie met Bernard Enright, a handsome infantry sergeant.

He always claimed that when he had first spotted my mother in the bank, where she worked, he told his best friend that he would marry that girl. He was a man of his word and what ensued was a 48-year-long romance that carried beyond my father's death in 1990. For decades, my mother slept with a pair of his soft slippers under her pillow.

Mother was a bit of a vixen, and I remember a family dinner at which her accounts of their amorous inventiveness as a young married couple who lived with her parents for the first eight months of marriage sent my brother Brian blushing from the table.

Their marriage produced four children and an immeasurable degree of love and family loyalty that is now embodied in four children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

For years we let our father operate under the illusion that he was in control, but the truth was the Enright family was a benevolent matriarchy. And sometimes not altogether benevolent: The story of my mother furiously chasing my father around the house with a broom in her hands is now family legend. She was a beguiling witch, and he adored her.

Her body's betrayal was not accompanied by her mind's diminishment. Mother's memory remained unimpaired up to the day she was admitted to hospital, and she could recall in remarkable detail people and events going back 80 years.

When first diagnosed with breast cancer, Mom was sure she was riddled with uncountable cancers. Uncharacteristically, she lost her will to live, so her children gathered in her Saskatoon apartment and nursed her back to health.

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We were graced with three more splendid Christmases, a wedding and countless birthdays before the fall that set in motion a series of complications that ultimately led to her death.

But we hold in our memories an image of her watching her large family opening Christmas presents in the heart of the home to which we always knew we could return. Her gaze was full of knowing and loving.

As we watched this dignified, beautiful and proud woman surveying the world she had made, we all knew that the real gift in the room was Esther Marie Enright.

Robert Enright is Marie's eldest son.

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