I miss my Mum. She passed away 8 years ago today, just three weeks short of her 86th birthday. After a lifetime of good health, she suffered two heart attacks in 1993 and a stroke in 1996. It left her with little speech and weakness on one side. But, being the determined lady that she was, she continued to live in her own home for 6 more years, with some help, until the day she died, peacefully on her own couch - just the way she wanted it. I was alone with her that day; we had shared a nice lunch, ending with some yummy chocolate. Then she went and laid down for a nap as she often did after lunch.... and peacefully slipped away. What a way to go..... we should all be so fortunate. (I can only hope I too will die with the lingering taste of chocolate in my mouth... sigh...)
My mother was indeed quite a lady. She grew up in a rural area, the oldest of six. After leaving home at 15 to live with her grandparents in order to finish high school, she then continued on to become a nurse. She was never afraid of hard work and continued to nurse for a number of years while raising her children and helping my father in his business pursuits. She eventually did all the "bookwork" and accounting, and was certainly the backbone of the growing family business.
I guess one has to reach a certain age, or level of maturity before one truly appreciates their parents. Looking back now, I realize how very lucky I was to have two such loving parents. They always made sure we had good healthy food and got lots of fresh air, exercise and sleep - something many children today do not experience. Mum made sure that if there was an activity we wanted to participate in, she somehow found the money to make it happen. My brothers did Cubs and Scouts, I did Brownies and Girl Guides. I was so very fortunate to have piano lessons and many other musical activities - various church and school choirs, high school musical productions and so on, and my love of music has never diminished. Thanks Mum. When I left home to attend University in another province, like most 18 year olds I couldn't wait to "get out of Dodge"... thinking I would never return to live in my boring little hometown. But it wasn't long before I realized what a great place it was and how lucky I was to have such loving caring parents.
Mum always stood up for me and made sure I had the same (or equal) opportunities as my older brothers. She taught me to stand on my own two feet and made sure I got a good education so I could support myself. She taught us to work hard, to be thoughtful of and helpful to others and treat everyone fairly. She taught us so much by example, much more than we were even aware of, as children.
I credit my Mother for my love of nature and gardening for she was certainly a nature lover and had a very "green" thumb. She was "green" before her time (lol) as she was always thrifty and never wasteful of anything, and recycling (or re-purposing) was just a natural part of her life. Certainly my love of all things fibre came from her as well, as I grew up watching her knit, sew, do many types of needlework and hooking - none of which interested me much then, but look at me now - following in her footsteps!! My love of travel also began when I traveled with Mum and Dad as a child. Looking back at my first solo trip at age 17 - by Greyhound bus to visit my Mum's only sister in West Virginia, I can hardly believe they let me do that all alone! I had to change buses in every large city down the eastern seaboard, and I made it, but not without some nervous hours at home for my Mum I'm sure, waiting by the phone... When I left for 3.5 months of backpacking around Europe the day after graduating from University, my Mother's sage advice was - "Use your common sense, and be careful. You have a tongue- all you have to do is use it. If you are in trouble - just ask for help." (Of course she was forgetting that I only spoke English and minimal French - no German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch.....) My love of reading also is the result of a mother who taught me to love books. She introduced me to the Library, but we both loved spending time in a bookstore, and she never once said no to the purchase of a worthwhile book.
There have been so many moments during my life when I can hear my Mother's wise words. She was indeed a wonderful person- a bit on the shy side, never one for crowds or big gatherings other than family ones. She was content to spend time by herself with her hobbies . She was always willing to help someone in need and supported many worthwhile causes in the community. She was good to her parents and all her siblings, and helped them all her life in whatever ways she could. She was kind and compassionate, and loved animals and all living things. She was a lifelong learner and always tried to better her skills. She was a great cook and would never turn anyone away from our table, always finding a way to "spin things out" to feed one more.
I miss my Mum every day. I still find myself thinking I'll just call Mum and ask her how to do... whatever. Or I wonder what she would say or advise about a certain predicament. I regret that my own children have few if any memories of her, other than after her stroke. They never knew the wonderful warm loving person she was. She would be so very proud of them both today...
I am lucky to have some great pictures of her in her younger years, and thought you might enjoy seeing them. At the top is a baby photo of her. The next one was taken while she was in (nursing) training, I'm guessing in the late 30's. The last two were taken just after my parents were married, I think (1942). She was getting ready for a big dance and I'm not sure who took this photo while she was doing her nails. The last shot is a closeup taken on the same night, and as you can see it has been tinted.
Yes indeed she was a wonderful lady. If I can be half the woman and Mother she was, I'll be happy.
I love you Mum, and miss you every day.
A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path. ~Agatha Christie