“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss
Because she happened. Because Susan happened to us all.
Top to toe, Susan Rogers was a Newfoundlander, a Bartlett come to that. From birth (St. John’s, 1966) to passing (Toronto, 2018), she was as proud, as unfiltered, as strong as any person The Rock has produced. Free yet considered with her opinions, tireless in her activism, committed to making her street, her neighborhood, her city, her country, a better and fairer place to live. That she spent her adult life “from away” will never be held against her.
Susan Rogers defined motherhood. She was born to the role. Fiercely (at times loudly and embarrassingly) proud of her children Ryan and Emma, Susan cheered their every accomplishment, from momentous graduations to learning how to read. She dried every tear, hemmed every pant leg and skirt; scolded every transgression with love. And she was a mother to many. Susan knew the value and the potential of every child she encountered. More importantly, she told them so.
Susan Rogers was a partner. In good times, bad times, all times; she reveled in the life she made with her husband Eric. A boisterous yin to his quieter yang, Susan was Eric’s confidant, his truest friend, and his champion. She held the ladder as he fixed things, seasoned his culinary education, and convinced him that yes, the teal frames were meant for him. The haircut, however, might need rethinking.
Susan Rogers was a reader. Voracious, discerning; but not beyond a trashy novel once in a while. A fan of Canlit and a devoted follower of her beloved Newfoundland writers. She even ran a lending library, albeit a tiny one stuck on a post in her front lawn.
Susan Rogers was a talker. About politics, health care, the needs of the less fortunate. No subject or issue was beyond her or beneath her. She talked because she cared deeply about the world beyond her own door. More than a talker, she was a doer. Committed to social justice and equality, she embraced every opportunity to muck in and to get her hands dirty, to engage in debate, to fundraise, canvas, or simply put up a lawn sign. She was a citizen: engaged, energetic, positive.
Susan Rogers was brave. When faced with the worst that life could throw at her, she shouldered the indignities with courage, grace, and openness. She did not shirk from what needed doing nor shy from the truth. Certainly she would complain (she was all-together human) but there was never any whining. There was instead a dedication to being strong, to seeing it through come hell or high water. For her family and friends, but mostly for herself.
Susan Rogers happened to us. She is alive in our memories. Of her loud Newfoundlander voice and curious sense of eyeglass fashion. Of her Halloween chili and her mathematical illiteracy. Of her bright outlook and her profound belief in the decency of humanity. She may not be among us now, but she is certainly within us all, and we are the better for it.
We will celebrate Susan Rogers (and life, as only she would want) this summer in High Park. In a place of peace and joy she knew so well, and loved so dearly.
And we will be smiling.
Donations in Susan's memory will be invested in PARC's social justice work. Bring on the revolution.