Remembering dad

Young girl pays tribute with act of kindness

Jim Day
Published on August 1, 2014

Six-year-old Abby terBeek enjoys a tickling session with her mother, Jessica. Abby made a nice donation to the Canadian Cancer Society -- P.E.I. Division Thursday in memory of her father, who lost his battle to liver cancer last year.

©THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel

Healthy dad is a blur.

Abby terBeek was only three and a half years old when her father, Aart, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer.

So understandably, fresh memories of daddy are confined for the most part to the one and a half years that the Dutch farmer battled cancer before succumbing to the disease in March 2013.

The tall, thin dark-haired man worked long, hard hours until chemo made him too sick to tend to the dairy operation in North Winsloe.

Still, special moments, though spotty, start to flow from Abby once the shy six-year-old girl warms to the idea of being interviewed.

There was fishing with dad over at the grandparent’s place.

Making jigsaw puzzles with daddy was always fun. The one with the two puppies was real nice.

Dad could make cool sand turtles at the beach.

And there was camping with daddy and little brother Josh.

Good times indeed.

Jessica terBeek is determined to keep the memory of her husband Aart alive, particularly in the hearts and minds of her two children. She also wants to imstill in her children one of Aart’s best traits: generosity.

“Their dad was a really helpful I want to teach them to be giving like their dad,’’ says Jessica.

Abby is off to a good start.

A short time ago, she donated a thick, nine-inch lock of her hair to be used to help make a wig for a cancer patient.

She gathered some donations for her goodwill gesture. She then requested friends bring donations rather than gifts to her birthday party.

In total, she collected $330. Grandma matched the tally.

The girl was asked what would be a good thing to do with all that money.

Says Abby: “Give it to other people with cancer.’’

On Thursday, Abby handed over a $660 cheque to the Canadian Cancer Society - P.E.I. Division.

Teary-eyed executive director Lori Barker graciously accepted the donation.

Barker says Aart terBeek’s death due to cancer illustrates just how immense and wide-ranging cancer’s sting can be.

Two young children have lost a father. A woman has lost her partner.

The dairy farm is being sold, bringing to a close a distinct lifestyle and a sustainable livelihood.

“Cancer like many diseases can consume many families,’’ says Barker.