In Memory of Penny Darlene Wills. Jan. 15 1966 - Dec. 3, 2010
“All the Gold in California” – That was one of Penny’s favourite songs. I guess Penny would have been about twelve when that song hit the charts. For some reason Penny just loved that song and Larry Gatlan. When we drove to California with Mum and Dad, Penny played that song on her little eight track all the way. Dad wanted to throw the tape out the window, but Mum wouldn’t let him. When we would have company over to the house, Penny would start singing "All the Gold in California". She knew every word. She would talk continually about Larry Gatlan. Penny actually went to a few of his concerts when he was in Ontario. In fact, she met Larry Gatlan about a month ago. When he was on stage he blew Penny a kiss and said, “I love you Penny”. He also sent her a little letter which is in the coffin with his CD. This was one of Penny’s many highlighted moments.
On behalf of Norma, Crystal and Candice and the Wills family we wish to thank everyone for the love, support and prayers given on behalf of Penny and our family. Personally, I would like to thank many of you, who over the years have really come to know Penny, love Penny and care for Penny. I don’t know many of you, and perhaps you knew Penny in ways I did not know her, even though she was my sister. You are special people and have special gifts. I praise God for people like you who have made Penny a part of your lives and in doing so, made Penny’s life so full of joy. You cared for her needs and loved her. I believe with all my heart that Penny loved all of you. Her love showed in her smile which is captured in her pictures. A special thanks to her first teacher in public school and high school, the caregivers at C.LG. Day Program, people who met with Penny regularly to teach her computer skills or reading, her respite caregivers and Penny’s special friend who took her out for coffee every Saturday for twelve years. There are many people who have shared a special bond with Penny. You know who you are and you know the part you had in Penny’s life. Once again I sincerely thank you.
Penny was born January 15, 1966. I can remember back to that time, even though I was just five years old. Mum was pregnant. At that time there was a show on television called “Lost in Space”. It was one of my favourite shows. I loved watching Will and Penny Robinson each week. I remember saying, “Mummy, if you have a little boy can we call him Will?” Mum didn’t like that name because she thought that Will Wills didn’t sound right. As it turned out, Mum had a little girl. One look at her little baby with her little nose, tiny ears and hands and Mum knew that she would name her Penny. Penny was born with down syndrome which is a genetic condition. She had one chromosome difference. Even then Mum instinctively knew that Penny was a blessing from God though some may have thought otherwise. Mum knew that God had given us Penny for a reason.
When Penny was born there was not as much knowledge about her special condition. There was not the resources to research like there is today. Mum learned how to care for Penny the only way she knew how. Like a lot of parenting skills they are developed on the job training. I remember every week a nurse would come in and help my Mum bathe Penny, care for her belly button and make sure Penny was doing okay. Mum feared for Penny's life when she was just a baby. She lay on the bed wearing a pink dress and she looked like a little doll. Penny was having difficulty breathing because she had a cold and her nostrils were very tiny. Penny grew out of the baby stage into a toddler.
There were moments when Penny was quite a handful. When Penny was very young she was fascinated with hair. So fascinated that she would put her hands in your hair and pet it. One day, one of Mum’s good friends Agnus was visiting. Penny proceeded to touch her hair. Next thing you know Agnus screamed. The more Agnus screamed, the harder Penny pulled her hair. It was quite difficult to remove Penny’s hands from the tangled hair. I think Penny was curved from this sense of curiosity when one day she pulled the wig right off of Aunt Vera’s head. The shock on Penny’s face said it all. The response of Aunt Vera was quite hilarious.
I can remember Penny to be the center of so much laughter. She was about five years old. One of her cutest impressions she did was the Pilsbury Doe Boy. The first time she did this she stood in the middle of the living room with her hand up and her mouth shaped like an O, pointing to her belly. It became a big game for everyone to figure out what Penny was doing. The house roared with laughter. You just never knew what Penny was going to do. There were so many surprises which brought laughter. Penny loved her popcorn and chips, but more than anything she loved her Mom, her family and people.
Mum had many years of caring for Penny. In the last few years Crystal and Candice took over for Mum and did everything they could do to make a happy home for Penny, Kala, Liz and Kaitlen. They enjoyed many happy times with all the girls of which will always be treasured.
Penny had her infatuations over the years. With each one she entertained us. I think Penny always liked when people laughed. She did not like people arguing or loud noises. Whether Penny was wearing her purple Donny Osmond socks and talking about Donny Osmond incessantly or if she was dressed in green make-up pretending to be the incredible Hulk or joyfully singing “All the Gold in California” at the top of her lungs, Penny always made sure that we knew about her love interests. She loved Elvis and going to Collingwood and dancing up a storm. She loved the kisses and hugs she received from all the Elvis’s even more. What can I say, Penny loved her guys and even Keith Urban can attest to this. She loved her calendar book and listening to CD’s, the Raider family, Ocean Opry and music.
When Crystal, Penny and I were young we loved to play and pretend we were Jamie Summers, the bionic woman. We would jump off the couches and picnic tables and run in slow motion. Penny would make the bionic sounds and pretend to subdue us. She was strong like Jamie Summers.
Somewhere along life’s journey, I began calling her Penny Wiggles and Penny would reply back to me Becky Wiggles. I didn’t realize until we were in the hospital on Friday that everyone called her Penny Wiggles. It made her smile when we would call her that name. Lord knows, I loved to tease Penny. Penny liked to tease me in return. It was all in fun. When Penny was little she would curl her front lip with her tongue. Mum thought she looked like the puppet lamb chops. You would have to be over fifty to know who lamb chops is.
So I have had a few days to reflect over memories and think about Penny and who she was in my life. We seem do to that when we lose a loved one. Life can seem like a strange and winding road. Often we take the people in our lives for granted, never thinking that tomorrow they could be gone.
I feel sad knowing that Penny is not with us anymore and I picture her in that hospital room on that Friday where she was surrounded by love. It is hard to say goodbye. The only thing that really gives me comfort is in knowing that she is now enveloped by the most incredible love, a perfect love within God’s presence. I believe this because I know that Penny had a childlike faith and loved Jesus. She accepted Jesus just like she accepted everyone. Penny never had it in her to judge people or harbour bitterness or anger. She just accepted everyone for who they are.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” I happen to believe the word of God to be true. In God’s word it says throughout many scriptures that Jesus will change our “vile bodies”. I believe that on Friday afternoon, Penny walked into heaven with a new glorified body. A body no longer restricted by sickness, pain, or any infirmity. I know that her sight was made perfect. I am expecting to see Penny again some time. The scripture says that we will recognise each other by our spirits. Penny had a wonderful gentle spirit.
I know that Penny loves Jesus. I believe that is exactly where Penny is right now, rejoicing in Heaven. So it only seems appropriate that at the end of this service we play one of Penny’s favourite songs which also happens to be one of my favourites too. “I’m a sinner, but I’ve never sinned because I’ve got a friend in Jesus. When I die and they lay me to rest, I’m going to that place that is the best. Going up to the Spirit in the sky. That is where I’ll go when I die. When I die and they lay me to rest I’m going to the place that is the best."
If I were to pick out something which I will always remember about Penny, it would be that incredible innocence she possessed and the smile that always graced her face. I saw that smile only a week ago. It impelled me to give her a kiss and a hug and tell her “I love you Penny”. Penny was unique in every sense of the word -my gentle little sister - My Penny Wiggles. We will not forget you Penny. Even though you are gone, you will be remembered by many.
I'll just say: See later Penny. I'll love you forever. xoxoxo