An Edmonton family grappling with the devastating death of their matriarch has been dealt another blow – the theft of everything they had left to remember her by.
Eileen Vettese was 86 last month when she tested positive for COVID-19 and doctors discovered another infection. The illness was too much to overcome, and the great-grandmother passed away on November 26.
“It was very unexpected for us,” said daughter Mandy Vettese. “We are quite in shock. Something we certainly did not expect. She was actually very healthy, apart from the dementia.”
Eileen’s family cleaned out her home and donated most of the items to charity.
But her personal mementos – photographs, letters and a collection of Royal Doulton figurines – were packed into the truck and brought home with Mandy.
The family wanted to go through the photos to make a slideshow for Eileen’s celebration of life.
“My daughter would pick them up to keep them at her place for safe keeping. But we never got that chance.”
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When Mandy’s husband went to sleep at their home in the south-eastern Idywylde neighborhood on Wednesday, December 7, thieves stole the locked truck – along with Eileen’s lifetime of memories in the back seat – from the front of the house.
“We were literally still in shock when we dealt with the death of my mother. It was just incredible.”
They immediately filed a police report.
The 2006 Ford F-350 ran on diesel and had an unusual brown paint job, along with chrome trim and running boards. At the back it had a soft tonneau cover, with an old Alberta license plate HHP 279.
Eileen’s family doesn’t care about the truck – it’s the precious keepsakes to them that are irreplaceable.
“I would just beg them to please drop them off anywhere – no questions asked. Somewhere that someone could find them and return them to us. Somewhere that’s not in the snow,” Mandy said.
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The keepsakes were in decorative boxes, with family members’ names on them, as well as Rubbermaid containers – one blue and two clear. There was also a bag with avocado print and a shallow box with the figurines inside.
She is struggling to get into the Christmas spirit this year, given all the loss.
But Mandy is still hopeful that the special memories will be returned.
“We’ll do just about anything to get them back, especially before Christmas would be great.”
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