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‘It was awful’: A mother’s remains missing in mail for a month

Click to play video: 'Calgary couple happy to be reunited with lost loved one’s ashes' Calgary couple happy to be reunited with lost loved one’s ashes
A Calgary couple is breathing a sign of relief after an urn containing a loved one’s ashes went missing while being shipped between funeral homes. Blake Lough reports. – Sep 6, 2019

After a month of panic and uncertainty, an Airdrie couple received the news they had been praying for.

The urn containing their loved one’s ashes had arrived at its final destination four weeks after it had first been picked up.

“We’re relieved, let’s put it that way,” son-in-law Michael Maze said.

Rena Ferguson passed away on July 27 at the age of 98. It was her wish to be interred in her hometown of Yorkton, Sask. where her husband was laid to rest.

“She was just a phenomenal person,” her daughter Wendy Gaye Maze said.

READ MORE: Calgary man reunited with missing mother’s ashes

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But for an entire month, the couple had no idea where the remains were – they knew only that they hadn’t arrived at the funeral home in Yorkton.

“Panic. You know?” Wendy Maze said.

“We just assumed everything had been taken care of,” Michael Maze added.

“It was awful, especially for my wife.”

READ MORE: Woman’s necklace containing father’s ashes returned following robbery

Ferguson was cremated at McInnis & Holloway Funeral Home in Airdrie.

Operations manager Jeff Hagel said McInnis & Holloway sends urns to other funeral homes across the country through the mail on a weekly basis. The urns are sent using Canada Post – the only postal service to accept human remains.

“[Remains] are shipped to a funeral home to prevent them from being shipped to a resident and possibly being left unattended at the doorsteps,” Hagel said.

According to Hagel, Ferguson’s remains were picked up at the Airdrie funeral home at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 6, along with another urn destined for B.C.

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Canada Post usually scans packages during pick-up which initiates a tracking process.

Hagel believes Ferguson’s urn wasn’t scanned.

READ MORE: Calgary woman ‘devastated’ by theft of father’s ashes

Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault told Global News the package destined for B.C. was delivered successfully. But the postal service could “find no evidence in our system of a second parcel being picked up or processed.”

“Any parcel of this nature being picked up for processing and delivery would have been scanned and logged at several points in our system,” read a statement from Legault.

“We also conducted a physical sweep search of our facilities given the sensitivity of the item, but there was no indication that it had been in our facilities.”

Upon learning the package had not arrived in Saskatchewan, McInnis & Holloway Funeral Home worked to find answers. Hagel spoke extensively with Canada Post and, when the urn still hadn’t been found, submitted an appeal with the Canada Post ombudsman.

“This is not a package. It’s somebody’s loved one, it is somebody’s mom,” Hagel said.

On Friday, moments before starting an interview with Global News, the Maze’s phone rang.

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It was Hagel on the other end of the line calling to deliver the news the couple had been waiting for.

“Your mom is in the care of the funeral home,” Hagel said.

“Thank God,” Wendy Maze responded.

Why the package took so long to be delivered is still a mystery and Legault said Canada Post is investigating to determine what happened.

The Mazes are just relieved and grateful Ferguson has reached her final resting place.

“I just thought, ‘Thank goodness she’s with my dad now,’” Wendy Maze said, choking up.

“That’s where she needs to be.”

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