Evelyn Vasallo was sure she wasn’t looking close enough as she gazed down on the bricks at Sarah Beckett Memorial Park.
Her daughter stood beside her, combing through inscriptions one by one – none of them had the words she was desperately looking for: In Memory of Jamie Whyte 1966-2002.
Jamie was her son who died of a diabetic coma at 36.
|Evelyn Vassalo was shocked to find out that her brick was missing the Sarah Beckett Memorial Park. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)|
“I was upset and I cried,” Vasallo said. “This memorial brick doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, but it means something to me. He was my only son. It’s hurtful when you’re expecting it and it’s not there. It feels crummy.”
The Langford woman bought the memorial brick for $200, which helped fund the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground, to pay tribute to the West Shore RCMP officer killed by an impaired driver in 2016.
Vasallo knew she wasn’t able to get her brick laid in time for the grand opening in August 2019, but she was told by West Shore rotary members that the bricks would be installed by October.
The 70-year-old dropped by the park for her first time in December with her daughter, who had flown in from Edmonton.
With her son’s brick nowhere in sight, Vasallo felt lied to. She sent emails to the rotary but didn’t hear back.
Dianna Seaton, director of community service for Rotary Club of West Shore, said the club’s original deadline of October was pushed to November due to the influx of brick orders and fitting in last-minute purchases.
It was pushed once again when the holidays came around and the snow arrived.
Vassallo’s brick is one of more than a hundred that are inscribed but not yet installed at the playground.
“We didn’t want to turn anyone away,” Seaton said.
“We wanted as many people [as possible] to have a brick. I offer my sincere apologies because I know how important it is to families.”
Langford’s Manager of Parks Cory Manton said that though the work is weather dependent, it can be done in a day.
Manton expects the bricks to be in the park by the end of February.