Sandra Cairns would have turned 81 on May 11.
The former resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre succumbed to COVID-19 on Friday morning (March 19) at 10 a.m.
She passed away without her family present.
“The fact that we weren’t able to hold her hand at the last minute was very sad,” her daughter-in-law said.
Anita Coueffin-Cairns, who lives in Maple Ridge has a message for everyone amid this virus outbreak.
“Sandra wasn’t young by any means, but to have her taken like this was quite shocking to us.”
Described as having a strong will and a sharp wit, Cairns was born in New Westminster, and lived in West and North Vancouver.
She was a registered nurse at the East Vancouver police station for 25 years.
Anita, said her mother-in-law was deputized as a civilian officer by the Vancouver Police Department, so the female inmates – who she treated – could not get away with attacking her.
Cairns would have been on the front lines of this crisis when younger, Anita said.
“Oh, she would have been in Downtown East Side. She would have been in the zone down there, trying to help people.”
As a police nurse, Anita said, Cairns received many commendations for her work, including ones for devising protocols for safe needles and helping female inmates.
“When I first met her, I was intimidated by her,” Anita confessed. “And I don’t intimidate easily.”
Over the years Cairns softened towards her daughter-in-law, filling her in on the stories that made up a fascinating life.
Cairn’s father was former BC Lions director Bobby Bourne, the namesake for the Bobby Bourne Memorial Trophy awarded to the CFL team’s most popular player each year.
Her husband, who passed away many years ago, graduated from Harvard and moved the family to Spain while Cairns was still pregnant with her son, Rob (Anita’s husband).
Cairns taught herself Spanish, so she would be able to communicate to the doctors while she was giving birth.
“She was a force to be reckoned with,” Anita said of her mentor.
Mother’s Day was always a special holiday for the family, as it fell right around Cairns’ birthday.
“We’d go to the home and bring her flowers,” Anita recounted, adding they would also bring Reese Peanut Butter Cups, which were Cairns’ favourite.
Cairn’s loved ones have a simple message for anyone reading this.
“If we can tell you anything; for Sandra’s sake, stay home for a couple weeks. It won’t kill you.”