My mom had many titles in her life. Mary to family and friends, mom to us kids, Snowy Owl to girl guides, Aunt Minnie, Granny, Aunt Larry, Nanoo, and fondly Queen Mary.
But, I remember the young mom. The stay-at-home mom who cooked and cleaned and baked, the mom who prided herself on her clean house. The mom put curlers in her hair every Sunday night. And she'd put the dryer bag on her head with a hose going into an old fashion hairdryer. Our parents weren't rich in wealth but they sure were rich in love. Our parents knew how to build a wealth of happy fun memories.
Our parents married in 1956, and Bobby was born first. Health issues prevented my mom from having more biological children so they decided to adopt. Paul came along in 1960, and myself in 1962. I remember the day my parents told me I was adopted and how I was a chosen child. So excuse me, Harry Potter, but I was the chosen one first.
My mom had a special lifelong friendship with her bridesmaids. Her friend Del has been sending my mom a birthday card every year since they met. She sent mom flowers on the day she died. I used some for her to take with her and some for her spot on the bench where she sat every day during the warm weather.
As a family, our childhood holidays were either camping or staying with grandparents. My mom would have all the camping gear ready at the entrance of the garage on a Friday, and my dad would get home from work and pack the car and off we'd drive in our station wagon.
Everyone who knew my mom knew she loved kids. She babysat children most of her life. From her own brother's Bob and Wes, godchild/cousin Muriel, family doctor's kids to her great-granddaughter, Willow. And when Rene and I bought our first house and moved away she'd call me daily telling me the house was like a morgue because it's so quiet. It was during a conversation when Rene and I thought about moving across the River to the Quebec side, that my parents decided to put an addition on the house and we moved back to my childhood home.
So my mom started creating memories with her grandchildren and we were now a multi-generational family. I wanted to think we were like the Waltons, but we were more like an episode of Rosanne. So many who won't get these references.
In 1996, my mom and I went to Banff, Jasper and the World Figure skating championships in Edmonton. Our side trip to Banff and Jasper was filled with new sights neither one of us had seen, like the mountains and mountain goats, and newly acquired sister who with her husband Jeff drove to meet us. We hiked around a lake on that trip, which was the last hike she ever did but we did it. We had great fun.
Sadly, my mom had a deep depression in 1998 when Paul died. My brother was only 38, and my mom mourned until Nathalie announced her pregnancy. Wow, my mom changed overnight and decided renovations were in order, new bathroom and new living room. The birth of Willow and subsequent births of River and Rowan gave mom a whole new interest in life.
The year my dad passed we were organizing a family cruise to Alaska and my dad's doctor did not clear him for travel, so they stayed home while the rest of us went. My mom really wanted to go on a cruise, so the three musketeers (as we called ourselves after my dad passed) went on a Caribbean cruise. It was on this trip we shared our dining table with a man who looked so much like my brother Paul that my mom sat down right beside him and started a conversation that has continued a friendship to this day. Rich Whiteman is his name. Mom felt honoured that he made the trip from Georgia to attend her 80th birthday party.
In these last months, she still had her feistiness and her wits about her despite her pain. As we homeschooled our grandchildren she joined us for Canadian trivia on Monday mornings. A memory I hope River and Rowan will keep in their hearts.
We had a village helping our family during her illness. The palliative care team we had was amazing, Kim and Mindy were care coordinators and Elise, the palliative nurse practitioner, nurses Benita and Mo, and PSWs, especially Claire and Joy. Nathalie, you were especially amazing. Rene, there are no words except, you were her "favourite son-in-law". Chris, wow thank you, also no words….you know.
Our physical journey with our mom is over now, but our hearts are full of memories and immense love. I will miss her forever, and there is a great number of loved ones who will also miss her. We shall take her home to Niagara Falls and she'll be with my dad and brother.
Donations to a charity of your choice on my mom's behalf would be honoured and appreciated. And feel free to share a Mary story.