“I can’t even put into words what this community means to me.”
That was Christine Weatherby speaking in her Qualicum Beach store Purple Essentials on Sunday as she prepared to re-open Tuesday.
Christine and Graham Weatherby, from Kingston, Ontario got married on Salt Spring Island in 2008, then honeymooned in Tofino and fell in love with Vancouver Island.
They realized their dream of moving here three years ago when they settled in Qualicum Beach and opened their downtown shop selling Christine’s personally made all-natural body care products.
“It was just the two of us yeah, me in the back and him in the front. We had planned to hire someone this year part-time to help us get some time away from the store,” she said.
The business was growing and life was good until June 24th.
“He said his hand was tingly and I said well you must have worked on the computer for a long time, then he said no it’s in my face,” said Christine.
It was a startling moment that would change life as they knew it and end Graham’s.
“It was a glioblastoma multiforme which is the worst type of brain cancer,” remembered Christine.
They tried to remain positive but running the store was too much. That’s when friends and complete strangers, 20 of them called the Purple Angels stepped in to volunteer and run the store.
It was their only source of income.
One of them was Tammi Parsons who met the Weatherbys as a customer and immediately noticed the couple’s deep love and respect for each other.
Others noticed as well and wanted to help.
“I was amazed at how people stepped up with no question, wanting nothing in return other than to just be there for them,” she said of the Purple Angels.
Christine and Graham made one final trip to Tofino but Graham died August 20th.
“You try your best to get to her side as soon as possible and then you hear from her about the Purple Angels and how the community literally surrounded them,” said longtime friend Catherine Walker who came from Kingston to help.
The community got Christine through the most difficult time of her life.
After Graham’s death, the store was closed so Christine could regroup and make more product.
Now she’s ready to re-open on Tuesday. 10 per cent of all proceeds that day will be donated to glioblastoma research.
“My heart is so touched by this community and people keep asking me if I’m going to stay, like wouldn’t you go back to Ontario? I wouldn’t go back because this is my home,” she said. “The people have made me feel loved and supported.”
Purple Essentials is located at 663 Beach Road, Qualicum Beach.
More information can be found here.