The city celebration of the life of late White Rock Coun. Mary Wade Anderson (July 11 at 2 p.m. at White Rock Community Centre) will be attended by family members, friends, city colleagues and many residents who experienced her kindness and forthright support on local and regional issues, over the years.
But as the date of the memorial approaches, it seems less and less likely that Jenny Awakuni – the long-lost daughter Anderson reunited with in April – will be among them.
Awakuni, a resident of Texas, who has been denied a passport by U.S. authorities as a result of lingering uncertainties about her citizenship, said she is seeing a lawyer this Friday in an attempt to resolve the difficulties.
But after having her passport application denied – even after submitting extensive paperwork and calling on a U.S. congressman for help – Awakuni is not too hopeful for a last-minute clearance to attend the memorial for her mother, who died June 28 at Peace Arch Hospital at the age of 84.
Instead, it appears Awakuni’s eldest son, Michael Montgomery, currently staying in White Rock, will be the sole representative of the second family Anderson discovered last October.
“My other two kids, David and Eron are working on getting their passports in order to come up,” Awakuni said by phone from her home Wednesday.
Awakuni added that she expects she will have to be contented with digital photographs of the event.
The registered nurse – as her mother was before her – said she had expected to be granted a passport June 28 so she could come to White Rock to be near the ailing Anderson.
Instead, she got a call June 27 informing her the application had been turned down, followed the next day by the news that her mom had succumbed to complications from heart surgery.
“I was just devastated,” she said. “This has just been horrible… horrible.”
Awakuni, who was born in England, said she has been given no clear answer why her citizenship status is being held in abeyance. While her father was born in Canada, he served in the U.S. military and became a U.S. citizen.
“I have a Texas birth certificate, I’ve voted in Texas, I’ve been called for jury duty,” she said. “No one ever said anything until I applied for a passport.”
Awakuni said that no matter what happens on July 11, her family and members of Anderson’s family in England are planning to come together for a private ceremony which will include scattering her ashes over water, per her mother’s wishes.
Awakuni, who was reunited with her mom briefly at Semiahmoo Resort in Washington, and met some of her friends, has vowed she will visit White Rock as soon as she is able.
“I intend to come up whenever this is settled,” she said. “My mom told me so much about White Rock. I want to see the place she lived in and loved. I want to meet the people. I want to see the hospital which she helped.”