Obituary of Esther Dillen
Esther Mabel Dillen (nee Biccum): Esther Mabel Dillen gently crossed to her Heavenly Home from her daughter’s arms and into the arms of her parents and loved ones on December 24th at 11:39 p.m. Her son-in-law, Mike, was also in attendance to comfort Esther as she made her transition from earth to heaven. Esther was born to George and Sarah (Sadie) Biccum on April 11, 1940, at their family home in Blanshard Municipality, Manitoba. She was the fifth of six children. She was a devoted daughter; she loved and admired her hardworking parents, as well her salt of the earth siblings, Merv, Clint, Bill, Alvina, and Rick. On the farm, she developed a huge love for animals. She enjoyed her beloved dogs, both named “Tootsie”, and her horse, “Pride.” She grew up playing sports and had a passion for playing basketball and softball. She carried her love of sports into her adult years, playing on area sports teams, including softball, and broomball. She could throw a ball like no other and at her death her eldest grandson, Dustin, gave this tribute: “You threw the hardest punch and fastball I’ve ever received. Tough as nails.” She met Kenneth (Ken) Dillen on the military base in Wheatland, Manitoba and eventually married on June 21, 1958 in Blind River, Ontario. Two sons and a daughter were born to their union. Eventually, Esther and Ken moved from Ontario and settled in Manitoba for work. They lived in Wheatland for several years and then moved to Thompson. Esther was a supportive politician’s wife while Ken served as president of the Steelworkers Union and then again while serving as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. She held wonderful gatherings and welcomed people from all over the world at the family home in Thompson. Esther was mentally and physically strong. She divorced, moved to British Columbia, and went back to school to become a dental assistant in her 40’s. She further developed her love of all things related to health and wellness and became a personal fitness trainer in her 50’s. She loved lifting weights at the gym, hiking, biking and exploring nature in her free time. Also, in her free time, she enjoyed home renovation and décor. She enjoyed sewing and made many beautiful outfits for the family as well as quilts. She also enjoyed fine arts, and explored knitting, crocheting, needle point, and macramé. She also loved to cook and bake and made many marvelous meals and desserts for her family. She gardened as well, and even built her own greenhouse and backyard water feature. She was fiercely independent, and before she called for help, she would try to fix it herself. In her late 60’s, Esther began to forget daily tasks. Eventually, in the greatest of all ironies, she would be diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. Throughout the last ten years, she has faced everyday with strength and courage. In 2016, her family transferred her from Blenheim Nursing Home in Vancouver, B.C. to Sun Parlor Nursing Home in Leamington, Ontario so that she could be closer to her family in Michigan. She amazed nursing home staff and her family as she continued to exercise and used the hall handrails not to steady herself but to perform squats. True to Esther’s toughness, and nature for looking out for others, she intervened when a fellow resident threatened a staff member. She wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything; she lived life big and fearlessly. She is a hero to our family and to many. Our family is so grateful to the doctors, nurses and personal support workers at Sun Parlor Nursing Home in Leamington. They were incredibly kind, patient, and loving toward Esther as she navigated the challenges and limitations of living with dementia. Many thanks to Reid Funeral Home in Leamington for their kindness and concern for my mom and our family and their availability to help on Christmas Day. In addition to her children, Kenny, Debbie (Mike) and Kevin (Naomi), she leaves grandchildren, Dustin, Nathan (Michelle), Devin (Elisa), Jordan, and Griffin Collingridge, as well as Rowan, Chloe, Liam, Jane, Maris, and Thompson Dillen and great grandchildren, Kodiak, Genevieve, Jack, Jay, and Dominic Collingridge to mourn her passing. She also leaves her devoted and loving sister, Alvina Paddock to mourn and miss her. A celebration of Esther’s life will be held in Ann Arbor and her remains will be placed alongside her parents and her brother Merv at Marney Cemetery in Manitoba in the summer of 2020.