November 1971 – May 5, 2022
Noreen was born in November 1971 to John and Joan Styacko of Loon Lake, SK. Noreen passed away May 5, 2022 in Stettler, AB.
Noreen was the youngest of three sisters – oldest Heidi (Balla), middle Cindy (Schreiber).
The following is written by Cindy
Noreen enjoyed growing up on the farm, and in later years she took pictures (summer and winter) of almost every aspect of the farm, from fields, to trees and buildings. When looking through her photo album she had a handwritten note saying “I will miss this place” beside one of these pictures.
Of all three girls, Noreen was the one to challenge things the most, including our parents. It was anything from her curfew to what she wore. At the same time, she was also the one who noticed things. If someone was feeling down or if someone needed help, she was very attuned to people’s feelings and was always there to lend a hand or shoulder. Noreen loved to challenge things, and admitted that if someone told her she couldn’t, or shouldn’t do something, then that was exactly what she was going to do, and she did. Mom and I even tried reverse psychology on her, thinking this might be an avenue, but apparently she read that book too – because it didn’t work. Noreen was fierce in her loyalty to friends and family and these connections were extremely important to her, and she remained close to a couple of friends she attended school with from Grades 1 to 12.
Because of the age difference between us girls, it wasn’t always easy to connect growing up – we always seemed out of sync. Although, I do remember reading her favourite book over and over again, as she always requested the same one to be read to her which drove me crazy, but she loved it. Noreen had some of the best Fisher Price toys, and I gladly joined her in playing with them (easy bake oven anyone!). Maybe it was the simplicity of the easy bake oven, I don’t know, but as an adult Noreen never really mastered cooking and it was something she dearly wished she could do better.
As the years passed, things became easier between us, as adults we were able to re-connect and our discussions became more frequent, and many times it involved long conservations. I remember one particular phone call that lasted more than 4½ hours! I believe that day we solved every issue there was, from world peace to family matters. We didn’t always agree, but we respected each others opinions and could debate matters for hours.
After high school Noreen had various jobs, from making chocolate to being a receptionist in a lawyers office. The job she had the longest was with my Aunt and Uncle in Hinton, AB assisting them with their business. It was there that she remarked how well my Aunt handled customers, and admired how well they ran their successful business. Noreen did so well, that my Aunt and Uncle would leave her alone so that they could go off and enjoy some well deserved holidays without having to worry.
Noreen was adventurous, and she would relay some stories to me; although I am pretty sure some of them were watered down (for my benefit) and I honestly didn’t feel brave enough to ask if there was more to the story than what she was telling me – because if I had, and if there was, Noreen wouldn’t hesitate to tell me. Her motto was, don’t ask if you don’t want to know the answer.
Someone once remarked that Noreen would never be brave enough to skydive. Well, off she went and did just that. Then there was the time she and a friend jumped on a plane to Hawaii because they thought it was a good idea – just a backpack, and with no place to stay when they landed. They spent the first night sleeping on the beach, then hitchhiked into the nearest town. Needless to say I was horrified, while she thought it was a great adventure.
One job in particular was to be the most important one of all – this consisted of seismic work in the Alberta rockies – and it was where she would meet her future partner of almost 30 years. They met on a particularly cold day, and as Noreen hated the cold, she wasn’t in the best of moods. As the day wore on, her future partner (Sheldon Weir) arrived to drive one of the trucks to the next seismic location. Noreen was in the truck trying to warm up, and as the route to this particular location was dangerous, Sheldon told her “you have to get out because I don’t want you hurt if something was to happen.” Noreen’s reply to him was “I am not getting out of this %#%& truck, I’m cold!!” Keep in mind, this was their first meeting, AND he was Noreen’s boss. Apparently, Noreen’s attitude didn’t faze him. I think he liked this feisty girls attitude, because when he left his position to go to work elsewhere, he gave Noreen his number and said “If you are ever in Calgary give me a call and we can go out for supper.” A period of time later, Noreen happened to be in Calgary and gave Sheldon a call. They went out for supper, bonded over pasta – and that was that, they were together ever since that first date.
Noreen was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) in 2005. I remember a time prior to her diagnosis when we were up visiting the farm for Christmas, and after supper while we were doing dishes Noreen whispered to me “I feel numb from the waist down” – my look of shock and confusion got her laughing, then I started laughing. When we both finally calmed down, it was then that she said she was having some concerning issues – of course it was no longer funny.
Noreen pursued and obtained her Massage Therapist license, but sadly, after all that hard work and studying she never got to practice, as MS was starting to affect her hands to the degree that practicing massage would have been too painful.
Noreen was blessed to have traveled to some special places, one being her absolute favourite – Paris. Sheldon said she was in heaven looking out from their room at the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night. There was something about the history that appealed so much to Noreen, and even though MS slowed her down, she was insistent on walking through the catacombs, immersed in the history surrounding her.
There were other adventures with Sheldon too, such as a Caribbean Cruise, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Australia/Tasmania, New Orleans and even a move to Costa Rica for a couple of years. Noreen loved her time in Costa Rica from reading her books while floating in the pool, to joining others from the complex to sit outside and watch the sunset every evening. There were many trips to BC wine country as Noreen loved red wine and port. Sheldon is a fabulous cook and he enjoyed nothing better than cooking for Noreen, or for friends and family when they visited. When Sheldon would have to go away for his job, which sometimes could be anywhere from 3-5 weeks, he ensured the fridge and freezer were stocked with all sorts of wonderful pre-cooked dishes that all Noreen had to do was pop in the microwave. I was always amazed when she would tell me what she would be having for supper that night.
I am immensely grateful to Sheldon who was Noreen’s partner for almost 30 years. In the beginning, we were all bewildered when we finally got to meet this special guy. Noreen had an outgoing nature and revelled in seemingly rebelling against everything and anything, and here was this shy, quiet, reserved, seemingly introverted person, who was so hard to get a word out of – so opposite Noreen’s personality. But it quickly became apparent that they were completely in love with each other. I have never seen such adoration in any other couple I have ever met. They completely lived and breathed for each other. Sheldon’s devotion and love never diminished when Noreen was diagnosed with MS. In fact, the seemingly impossible happened, he became even more devoted, caring and nurturing, always thinking of Noreen and ensuring her best interests were taken care of, or that she was always thought about when he was away working. They were also parents to, and loved their fur babies, their dogs Khaos, Maria, Marfer and most recently Jaxx, each being both company and a comfort to Noreen when Sheldon was away working.
Noreen faced MS with determination – she wasn’t its prisoner. She investigated everything from assisted death to something I had never heard of before, and something she wanted for herself when the time came – bio-cremation. She explained to me how this worked (little did I know that less than six months later we would be fulfilling that wish with aqua-cremation). She seemed comforted at the time when talking to me, knowing that this process would have little to no adverse affect on the planet and that she would once again be part of nature and the world she loved so much. She certainly opened my eyes to a possibility I hadn’t known existed. In true Noreen fashion, her thirst for knowledge and understanding put her ahead of the rest of us in exploring other possibilities, while at the same time being kind to nature.
May 5th changed everything for me and my family when we received the news that Noreen was gone. Of everything that MS took from her, it was COVID that rocked our lives. On a Tuesday she was showing symptoms and by Thursday morning she was gone. I am still in disbelief. I want to call her like I always do, and still today when something happens (good or bad) the first thing I think about is “I should give Noreen a call.” As a family you are not prepared to hear that kind of news – particularly when it is sudden. The grief we are all feeling at the loss of someone we loved so much is immense, it will remain a part of us, and we will just have to learn to accept being altered by this and remember Noreen through pictures and personal memories. You expect to have your siblings around as you get older to discuss life’s ups and downs, and when they are no longer there, it creates an empty hole nothing can fill.
Noreen, you will forever be in our hearts and minds.
Lovingly remembered and missed
Sheldon Weir, John and Joan Styacko, Cindy and Gordon Schreiber and numerous friends and family
A scattering of ashes at important places in Noreen’s life, including a celebration of life, will take place at a later date.
Contributions in memory of Noreen can be made at any local animal shelter.