The Essence of... Maggie Duckett

Traditional ~ Adventurous ~ Spiritual ~ Romantic

Artistic ~ Inventive

I first met Margaret Duckett (Maggie) around 1982. We both worked at Sears in Square One.   As per usual, at first, this was a casual working relationship.  Cordial, but as in most working relationships, polite but distant.  Over time, we gravitated to one another as we hung around the same people.  

This core group of people was truly amazing; the Sears in Square One was “the” Sears store that the head office chose to be the prototype of anything new that Sears brought on.  They were heady days as we were at the top in many categories, from sales to store design. We were the envy of many other stores.  The staff, both sales and management, were a great bunch, and we all had a fun time working there.  It didn’t stop at work; we started a social club that brought us even closer together.  It didn’t take much to put on an event that attracted one to two hundred staff and their families. 

We always had something on the go between car rallies, bowling tournaments, and Christmas parties.  Those friendships have indeed been enduring, as you will see by the number of them I’m highlighting in this series.  These, indeed, have been true, lifelong friendships.

Maggie and I eventually became closer friends. Over time Donna and I had our second child, Chris (there’s a volume of stories yet to be written about our children). As Chris grew up, we needed an activity to keep him occupied. We chose scouts for various reasons, partly because Donna could volunteer for the four hours per week commitment of “quality” time with my son.  (Hardly; it’s been over thirty years of volunteering in one of the most incredible organizations in existence that one can get involved with.

At that time, Maggie and I started working together in the appliance department. That was considered the best commission job in the store. Those jobs, however, are very competitive as our livelihood depends on competing for the next sale.  An unexpected and welcome relief, the majority of these work colleagues worked cohesively, and it was a group of salespeople who actually looked after each other. This was a testament to who worked there.

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, we were all equals. Maggie, Mary and Maria were treated no differently than the guys treated each other.  There were a lot of pranks played by and to each other.  Sometimes it was hiding entire paperwork stations – for instance, someone’s paperwork would end up inside a freezer or dishwasher, making its owner start their day with a treasure hunt.

At Sears, we did several things for and to each other.  Some prank was always a work hazard.  In fact, some would not be considered appropriate today.  In our defence, at the time, all were acceptable as we were all pranking or being pranked equally. Maggie stole my car keys and filled my car with helium-filled balloons as a birthday surprise.  Of course, I had no idea until I went out to the car at the end of the shift.  When I left the store, the sky opened, and we had a torrential downpour; I was in a hurry as our cub meeting was in twenty minutes. I got to the car in the heavy rain only to realize there was no room for me.  I immediately knew who had done it, but I needed to get into the car.  I burst the balloons, eventually making enough room to get into the car and close the door.  Then I realized we could play with the balloons at the cub meeting.  I don’t know how I got home without having access to mirrors or other windows. 

It would be best to ask Maggie directly about being tied to a fridge or promoting Don as a prank. Or scaring the bejeebers out of me by telling me I couldn’t go on a sailing trip because others outranked me in the department.  The fun and games were unrelenting.

Maggie was also a very capable handy person, often telling me what she and Brian tackled as projects – taking apart a clothes dryer to replace a belt. Something I admired and marvelled at.  I’m not only not handy in that way, but I’m also not even remotely interested in tackling that kind of task. One favourite anecdote is about a female customer who walked past Maggie to ask me a technical question about something mechanical.  I chuckled and smiled at the customer, saying to her, “Let me ask our technical expert about anything mechanical.” I took her right back to Maggie.  All was good as the lady smiled and apologized to Maggie for making the false assumption, and we all had a good laugh in the end.

Another Maggie and Brian (her husband) story revolved around Scouts, and they were highly accomplished and served in various roles, from leaders to group committee positions.  As Chris graduated from Beavers to Cubs, we followed their group of leaders and scouts.  It was a really strong group and very large, with many experienced leaders.  Unfortunately, their group moved out of scouts two years ahead of ours.  We were down to eleven scouts and three inexperienced leaders when we got to scouts.  Maggie and Brian were always there to support me and our group.  In fact, Maggie gave me her filing cabinet worth of resources they had accumulated throughout ten to fifteen years of scouting.

Maggie, Brian and I actually became closer after I left Sears to become a financial planner.  They were among the first couples to trust me as an advisor and financial planner.  They were a great sounding board, and I often would ask them about my next moves or ideas that I had.  I’ve always appreciated their faith in me and will be eternally grateful for that.  

One such exercise I still do with clients is “the diary.” The client would get a blank diary.  The first task is to write a date five years into the future.  The next is to write the following line, “Dear diary, I am so sorry that I have not entered the latest entries because I was so busy doing:” Then proceed with writing down all the things you did, places you visited etc.  These entries are to be complete thoughts and include lots of visuals.  This starts a crystallization of thought and your wildest and most important goals.  It is indeed a very powerful exercise.  At the time, we wrote a letter to Marg and Brian.  We opened that letter five years later to discover that the most critical elements had been done.

There are other stories, but please know that I love her like a big sister; she’s a fun-loving person who personifies Joie d’vivre.  She will tell you what you need to hear, not want to hear, but in the kindest, most thoughtful way.  She would be there if you need someone to hold your hand or, more importantly, give you a kick in the rear end if you need it.  I asked her about the cover picture; very few people are comfortable enough to risk having that picture posted.  To me, it’s Maggie to a 

‘Meet Maggie; here are her answers to the questions I’ve asked those special people in my life worthy of an “Essence of” portrait.

 In its way, Maggie’s pre-amble to her answers says so much about her.  Well, you asked for it…here goes. I am sorry that it is about death. It has been the hardest part of my life, yet it has challenged me to grow and be stronger. Who knew?


1)  At some time or another, you reached a fork in the road. At that time, it didn’t feel like it, but looking back, you realize that it really was a big moment. One that changed your life. Describe yours.
I have been married for 47 years before I suddenly lost the love of my life, my better half. We didn’t talk about death. That was for later when we were older! Brian died suddenly, and all my fears, doubts, and pain reared to the surface as I stood alone. I had never been alone, ever! I had never faced anything like this in my life!

A friend invited me to Grief counselling, and I went because the pain of loss was so deep I didn’t know if I could survive or how to survive. It had always been the two of us as one. In several sessions, I learned that I was not the only woman who had lost a loving husband or loved one. On teaching videos, we listened to people who had been there with loss. People had lost children, siblings, mothers and fathers and survived.  This seemed to change my awareness that it was “suck it up cupcake time and put your big girl panties on” because you could do this. After all, your children and grandchildren needed to see that you could survive and do it for Brian. The brave tin soldier.

It was time to reach out and ask for help.

I am thankful to have so many good friends that were always there to pick me up, brush me off and give me a boot on my way with “ you can do this”. You’ve got it!

  • What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was taking over financials. Ours was a very traditional marriage. I took care of home; my husband took care of financials. Alone, I didn’t have a clue! Thank God my husband always had an updated spreadsheet on “Usernames & Password.” If you’re not on the primary list for companies like Rogers, Alectra, Economist etc, no one wants to talk to you. It got to be a joke to see how long it took for the rep to reply when I told them it was impossible that he was dead! 

I didn’t know what was coming in and how disbursements of Hydro, Enbridge, etc., were due or how they were paid. Cancelling credit cards is multi-tasking. First, some had insurance on it that covered that month’s bill, then there were rewards and points that could be transferred. Nothing was simple. Each task led to 3 other tasks. Then there was always follow-up where you would have to start again because it didn’t get done. Filling in big shoes is a hard job. Walking in them is harder. 

Thankfully I was given a financial spreadsheet to plug in the numbers. I could see what was coming in, what and when others were due. I am proud to be able to say that I can tell you exactly what my Hydro costs each year, how much I spend on gas and when my next bill is due at any given time.

Exciting but totally useless and boring to anyone else! But I did it! (Editorial note, neither useless nor boring).

  • Who are you? You are allowed six words to describe yourself.

Good question. Still working on that one! I am not Mrs.  anymore, Bible says “till death do you part” but doesn’t go beyond that.
I am not my maiden name anymore. I have been daughter, sister, wife, mother, Scouter (Girl Guides, Beavers, Akela, Group Committee, Service), sale associate for appliances, sales assistant for fabric for the garment industry in Canada. In a doctor’s office for sales for btattoo removal, program manager for uniforms for casinos, oil corporations, major delivery company and office supply. I delivered newspaper bundles to drop boxes each week for a Brampton newspaper. But of all of these the best is being Grandma!
Six words ……
1.   Traditional
2.  Adventurous,   Love to travel    
3. Spiritual: compassionate and caring, 
4. Romantic (miss my hugs) 
5. Artistic
6. Inventive 

I am a very boring person! I don’t follow any sports, politics, reality shows or soap operas. I just don’t have the time. I watch little news because it is so depressing….so if the end of the world comes, please give me the heads up!

  • What one gem you’ve learned on your journey would you love to share?

Every couple needs to develop communication skills with each other. And I mean excellent skills. What makes you happy, mad, how you feel that day, your opinion… Holy Manors of respecting each other’s input. 
There is no wrong answer to a person’s feelings and beliefs. Feelings revealed should be treated with respect. 

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