Melissa Amber SPEZOWKA
September 20, 1990 – December 30, 2020
Melissa Spezowka was born September 20, 1990 in Hinton, Alberta, the third of three siblings.
It was quickly discovered that Mel would face many challenges in life as she was diagnosed with Microcephaly, a congenital condition basically meaning small head. Common issues being seizure disorders, along with neurological and learning impairments.
Her parents were told she would not live to be one year old, would not sit, crawl, or walk, and would not live to graduate from High School under the best circumstances.
While it was true that there were many things Mel could not do and never would do, those things do not define a person. Curious eyes would stare at her on the streets. They would see the things she could not do, but these things are the least interesting part of a person. There are people who have so many blessings Mel never had, and yet don’t appreciate those blessings. They have good health, but they take it for granted. They can walk, but they don’t know which way to go. They have arms, but they don’t use them to reach out to others. They can speak, but they don’t know how to tell others they love them.
This was not a problem for Mel. As anyone from the community would tell you, Mel had an amazing smile she was known for. If you were fortunate enough to get one of her hugs you felt special. She was a very genuine soul. Nothing was fake about her, she knew how to express her mind. You knew when she was happy, but you were also not left guessing if she was unhappy. She was also the strong, silent type. She had things to say to those she was particularly close to, but for the most part Melissa taught by example.
She was a spiritual person. She enjoyed having the Bible and such stories read to her, loved the music and singing at Christian gatherings, and showed a great appreciation if you prayed with her. She mastered the scriptural counsel shared with us at 1 Timothy 6:8 which says “Having food and clothing we will be content with these things”.
She found happiness in the simplest of things. One of her favorite toys when she was younger was building blocks and big Lego pieces. Mel’s niece shared a favorite story of when they were young, where they would wake up early before anyone else was awake and crawl to the pantry, spending time together stacking canned food into towers and houses until people started to wake up.
Mel was involved in and enjoyed many activities, especially ones involving her family and friends. She participated in adult day programs and bridges, and was particularly fond of cooking club where she met people and developed many close friendships that enriched her life.
Getting her to activities was always a highlight. She loved taking the bus, and going for drives in her van. She was always disappointed when the ride was over. Quad rides with her dad, and rides around the acreage with her sister in the side by side were always a special treat.
Much time was spent and many happy memories were made every summer at Good Spirit Lake in Saskatchewan, camping with her family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and numerous extended family and friends visiting around the camp fire. She really enjoyed the beach, building sand castles and swimming in the lake.
Much like her Mom, Melissa loved the water. One story from when she was a toddler stands out. The family was spending the day at Jarvis Lake, and her mom put Mel down on the sand to play. The moment no one was looking, Mel bee-lined it for the water. Crawling as fast as her little limbs could carry her, she didn’t stop, even when she hit the water, just kept on going. By the time her mom caught up to her, her face was under the water but she was still going! When her mom scooped her out of the water in a panic, Mel was not even upset, just a big beautiful smile on her face that she was known for.
Other interests and loves of Mel’s included animals. Mel had 3 dogs she loved named Pepper, Toby, and Mikey. But she affectionately called all animals Pepper. She loved when her sister would bring kittens and bunnies for a visit, or going to the acreage to see the chickens and feed the animals.
Later in life Melissa developed her own special games that show cased her amazing sense of humour. She found it hilarious if you could successfully sneak up on her and scare her with a big “BOO!”
After the tragic loss of her mother Wendy in 2019, Melissa moved in with her sister and family on an acreage near Stony Plain, before finding her own place in Edmonton with two roommates to keep her company. During this time she tried new hobbies like Art class and Drama, but decided they were not for her. She was also involved in Special Olympics bowling which she quite enjoyed.
The last, but certainly not the least thing that brought Melissa comfort and joy throughout her life was music. She always had her headphones on, listening to her favorite tunes whenever she could, and was particularly fond of Ed Sheeran. She was listening to the radio one day when Ed Sheeran’s “I Don’t Care” came on. She instantly began dancing, swaying her head back and forth, and clapping her hands together.
Yes, she enjoyed dancing too and found great delight in frequent dance parties with family, friends, and her Personal Care Aides who became more like family.
The family finds great comfort in seeing how close Melissa was with her Personal Care Aides at her house. The care and love she received in the last days of her life by her aides, and by the Doctors and Nurses in the hospital was above and beyond. Even the nurses got involved with her last dance party, celebrating life and dancing with her to Shania Twain.
Melissa passed away on December 30, 2020.
Melissa was predeceased by her mother Wendy on May 30, 2019.
She is survived by her father Martin; her sister, Farrah (Kevin) Kit, and their children, Felicia, Casey, and Madison; her brother, Dustin, and his children, Summer and Troy. Melissa also leaves to celebrate her life and memory and to mourn her loss many aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and caregivers with whom she shared a special bond of love and friendship.
A private Celebration of Melissa’s life will be held at a later date.
Donations can be sent to Special Olympics Special Olympics Canada Foundation, 21 St. Clair Avenue East, Ste. 600 Toronto, ON M4N 1T9, or online at https://donations.specialolympicscanadafoundation.ca/
A Scholarship is in the works to be set up in Melissa’s memory.
Melissa Amber SPEZOWKA
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