My Mother (1920-2010)
My mother died on May 16, 2010 and I am dedicating this post to her.
Her funeral was a memorable occasion filled with the bitterness of loss and the sweetness of celebrating her life. Her family was present, two children, five grandchildren, two great grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law, grandchildren-in-law, as well as many members of our extended family, and friends. In her heartfelt eulogy my eldest niece called my mother a matriarch. This is an apt description. My mother was a strong, independent woman to whom our extended family looked for, and were generously given, unconditional support. She was the conduit through whom we all connected. On the night she had a stroke several years ago, she had called family members around the globe to wish them New Year greetings. It was so painful to watch as the devastation of the stroke took her independence, almost all of her speech and eventually her mobility. She endured three years in a wheelchair without complaint and with an indomitable will not to succumb without a fight to the inevitability of death. Not for one moment did she go gently into that dark night.
My mother had a remarkable life spanning almost a century. She was born in Africa and died in North America. Left motherless at the age of two, she was the second of three siblings. After a happy marriage my mother was widowed at forty-nine, and shortly thereafter became a cancer survivor. When she turned sixty she emigrated to be with her son (my brother) and his young family. She set about building a new life in a strange country. Her friendliness and willingness to try new ventures, brought her happiness and many new friends.
My mother was a lady in the best sense of that word. Always dressed with appropriate flair and style, she warmly carried that propriety into all her relationships. She never missed a grandchild’s graduation either from high school, college or grad school. She provided a haven for her often harried family, cooking familiar and well-loved foods. She always had the right words for each occasion, and a gift whenever appropriate. She was a political junkie and hardly ever missed the BBC news on the radio and TV. She had a soft spot for Bill and Hilary Clinton and Pierre Trudeau. She loved watching tennis and golf and had a soft spot for Jim Courier, Roger Federer, and Tiger Woods. She loved playing bridge. She was a knitter and her family treasure the blankets she knitted for us. My mother loved walking, nature, and being out-of-doors. She was an avid reader with weekly visits to the library. She survived cancer, heart attacks, several falls resulting in broken shoulders and hips, and through it all she maintained her dignity, her compassion and her interest in all the family “doings” and the events in the world at large.
In her last years as she endured increasing discomfort from being wheelchair bound and from the effects of the slow debilitating deterioration of her advancing age, so my admiration and love for her grew exponentially.
A mother is irreplaceable and there is a hole inside of me.
Now, Mom, you know the mystery of the bourn from which no one returns. Rest in peace.