It’s been just over a month since my mom died and I’m facing my first Mother’s Day without her. The wound is still raw and I know that I’ll spend Sunday thinking of my mom and the intangible things she gave me – like courage and an overwhelming example of practical generosity. My mom always gave practical help…she saw what needed to be done and she did it. Whether it was organizing your kitchen, hanging pictures or cleaning your house from top to bottom – she did it.
One incident that was so illustrative of this was when I was struggling to complete my Masters in law at Queen’s University. My husband was with the Canadian Army in Bosnia and I had four small children – 6, 4, 2 and four months. She came to Kingston and locked me in my office to finish my thesis. For three weeks she fed my kids, ran my house and screened my calls. Even my thesis supervisor had to talk his way past her before he could speak to me … and in the end the thesis got done. Practical help.
When we were preparing for her funeral one of my jobs was to go through the photo albums to find pictures of her for the slide show of her life. My mom was incredibly organized and she had 70+ years of photos all organized and commented upon. It made the task easy but also incredibly poignant as I lived her life through her eyes during those hours in the kitchen.
One of the hardest moments was when I came to the year 1992. This year was particularly unique in our family since three grandsons (the first three grandchildren) were born in three months. That photo album was filled with all the pictures you take of your first child. This was before the age of digital and so everything gets developed and sent to grandma and grandpa. When I opened that particular album, taped to the inside cover was a letter I had written to my mother on the occasion of my new motherhood. At that moment my mother’s loss hit me hard. She was my mentor, friend, advisor and cheerleader … and she would never be on the other end of the phone (or text) encouraging me.
It is events like that – becoming a mother – which really put into perspective your own mother’s contribution to who you are as a person and what you want to give to your own children. I received an incredible legacy from my mom of love and support and one that I try to pass on every single day to my children. It is the gift of motherhood to give and to receive and always to cherish.