Epp: Erna Elaine
August 29, 1948 – March 25, 2021
Erna liked to be noticed, yet it wasn’t something she set out to achieve as one of her life’s goals. Instead, she wanted to create a memorable image of herself, and to do that, she broke a few family rules. Following the trends and fads in fashion and cosmetics gave her pleasure, and notoriety, to some degree. The henna in her hair we noticed in the ‘80’s was not dye she insisted. And what filled her purse was something other than make-up, she averred, but she persisted on the fashion path, and made a life helping people look the best they possibly could. Unfortunately, Erna was robbed of that ability in the last years of her life. A prisoner inside her body, she became not only unable to help herself but also to look and be her best. Erna passed from this world at the Souris Personal Care Home with sisters at her side on March 25, 2021.
She has escaped the disease which deprived her of the independence she had enjoyed most of her life.
Erna was fun. She loved the give and take of conversation, the opportunities to create beautiful images and visions with the tools she understood: fashion and cosmetics. Working in retail most of her life, she was gifted in understanding which dress would look best, which gown would enhance the good features and detract the less desirable ones. She could choose appropriate possibilities just by looking at the person. But the best part of finding the perfect fit was that the customer would have a good time finding it. If something looked horrible, Erna would say so, likely causing a great sigh of relief from inside the dressing room. One of the elements of the working life Erna missed was the feeling of accomplishment when the customer felt good about the purchase she had made.
Cosmetics, of course, compliment fashion. Erna studied the images being offered by various companies to understand how she could create those looks for people who were interested in staying current. Expertly professional at creating a natural face that owed its innocent beauty to a few products available from various make-up companies, she built a wonderful customer base who continued to return to her for advice, conversation, and more product. Her enjoyment of work spread to her colleagues. Spending time together after work at the gym or at dinner, Erna loved to include everyone.
A Clinique Cosmetic trainer, she was adept at showing others how a product worked while simultaneously giving them ideas on how to motivate the customer to purchase it. She did her homework. Since the store counters were expected to be pristine and inviting, she would simulate that experience by preparing the training rooms in ways that looked inviting and professional.
Mostly, Erna lived by herself in various apartments in Winnipeg. Her love of plants and gardening became obvious when she and Mike Aysan married and lived in a house in Charleswood. Her joy of growing flowers sparkled on the decks of the apartments where she lived when she returned to her more solitary life in Winnipeg. Planting the pots in the spring was one of the pleasures of her life.
Another was family and friends. In spite of her inability to cook—the only one of the family who had no need of a kitchen—in fact, in one apartment, she turned her kitchen into an office—she enjoyed food that someone else had prepared. That might have been a motivating factor in making sure she was at all the family gatherings, but she appreciated the people most. When nieces and nephews moved to Winnipeg to study or work, Erna would take the time to get to know them. They, in turn, appreciated her as evidenced by the frequent gatherings they had—mostly at restaurants, of course, or on Academy Awards night, when the nieces would gather with Erna to enjoy the show.
Appreciating Erna and showing incredible family responsibility are the two youngest sisters, Anita Somersall and Myrna Wells, who, seemingly tirelessly, made sure Erna was okay: visited and spent time to make sure she knew she was loved; told friends and family of developments and challenges.
And now, we are all missing her, as we have for the last few years when enjoying the last part of her life was stolen from her. It seems strange that the person who was born on August 29, 1948, the fourth in our family, is the first to leave. I’m glad for the friendship we all shared. Now we are left to honour her memory in ways that would make her happy. And that was never hard to do.
Left to mourn are the families of sisters Helen Hillier, Agatha Massey, Rita Button, Myrna Wells, Anita Somersall as well as brothers Philip, Alfred, Ken and Tim Epp.
A celebration of Erna’s life will be held at a later date.