Archives for category: Mother

auroraboreal12

One of the fondest memories I have of growing up was a time when my mother awakened me in the middle of the night with a gentle shaking. I rubbed my bleary eyes, sat up, and saw her place a finger to her lips.

“Get up, Lamby,” she whispered, “We’re going to get our coats on. I have something to show you.”

At 8 years old, I was enthralled by the idea of an adventure, tiptoeing in the dark, alone with my mother. We softly closed the front door and she led me down the driveway to the gravel road.

“Look…” she said.

I caught my breath, as the final traces of my last disappeared in wisps around our heads.

Aurora Borealis was dancing in its full, magnificent splendour in the sky above the farm across the road.

Mom and I held one another in silent rapture, as I shivered in the dark.  Streams of brilliant magenta, then azure, then green, then orange, then red, then yellow, and all through the spectrum again, shot, each in turn. Each one twisted and spun in a silent, unique dance. Each dance more unexpected and breathtaking than the last.

The sky was singing. The sky was dancing. And I stood, in the middle of the night, on this gravel road, safe in my mother’s arms. I felt certain that this was a spectacle meant only for us. I knew that a special secret had been shared with me and that a window to the magic of the Earth had been opened to us, and us alone.

I don’t know exactly how long we stood, or when we headed back inside. I do know that I never forgot that quiet moment, together in the magic of the Northern Lights. As a mother, I only hoped that one day, I might have the chance to share a similar moment with my own daughter.

Two nights ago, the Earth gave me that gift.  We had been out walking Charlotte and as we rounded the last bend toward home, I glanced up to see streams of light streaking the northeastern sky.  I gestured to them and asked our daughter, “Look up, Dolly.  What’s that?”  She had heard the story of my childhood adventure, and had also been waiting for this moment.  She began shrieking with happiness and skipping around on the road, calling, “Northern lights!  Northern lights!’

We didn’t have the quiet moment witnessing the brilliant colour that my mother and I had shared, but I was so grateful that I had been there to revel in my daughter’s first experience with one of nature’s greatest spectacles.  Later that night, as I tucked her into bed, she quietly told me that she somehow felt different; as though a secret had been shared with her.  As though, now, she understood something that she didn’t understand before.  I smiled in understanding.  As a child, I had been there.  I return to this place, each and every time I see them.  One day she will be there again, with her own child, sharing in the magic of the first sighting.

This is the magic of the Aurora Borealis.  The wonder and mystery imparted by our northern sky dancers.

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Dear Mom,

Yesterday I learned some very frightening news.  I learned that your heart isn’t young anymore.  I knew you were aging, anyone with eyes in their head would see you are.  Your body began to betray you years ago, but I always commented that your heart was as strong as an ox.  You were a young woman trapped in an old person’s body.  Now your heart has begun to betray you too…and to break my own.

I distinctly remember the smell of your skin, warm from the sun, as I lay in your arms wrapped in a towel on Bowmanville Beach.  I remember how your blonde hair fell past your shoulders and your blue bikini.  I remember your long skirts, unique jewelry, and the smell of your perfume when you were going out with Dad.  You had a natural glamour about you.  Truth be told, you still do…

I remember how you cared for me when I was sick.  Beef barley soup and homemade bread was the world’s best comfort food.  I remember how you would sit with me when I had migraines and change the cold cloth on my head.  I remember how you would tickle my back until your arm ached, if I was having trouble falling asleep.

I remember your Hallowe’en lunch menus.  Pumpkin seeds and raisins became witches’ fingernails and dried bats’ eyeballs.  I was always thoroughly disgusted!  When I was in grade one and having trouble leaving you to go to school, you bought a little whiteboard puzzle that fit in a canvas bag.  You would write me a message and I would put the puzzle together at lunchtime.  Reading your message helped me get through the day.  I remember the day you stayed home from work so that the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies would be wafting through the house when I got off the bus.

I remember how safe you made me feel.  I never felt like you were helpless.  You could handle anything that came your way.  Dad always said you were the most intelligent woman he had ever known.  He said you were a great driver and I loved our road trips.  Hours passed between us in the car.  My sister and I played cards in the back on the plywood table the hung over the front bench seat.  At night, I rode shotgun; down to Myrtle Beach, up to Smith’s Falls…anywhere.  My job was to chat with you and keep you awake.  We would sing Johnny Cash and Crystal Gayle at the top of our lungs.  It never occurred to us that we were three girls alone in a car, hours from home.  We never worried when we were with you.

I expect that you will guess which drive I remember most.  Yes mom, it is the afternoon you told me you knew a “short cut” home.  We had a little Chrysler Horizon hatchback and you decided to take it off-roading in the winter on an old logging road.  We were nearly at 70 degrees to the road but you remained as cool as a cucumber saying, “It’s alright honey!  We’re almost through!  Just HANG ON!”  You were fearless.

You are fearless.  You have fought so hard against any obstacle you have faced, be it personal, financial or physical.  You are a true winner and source of inspiration.  I read a quotation today that said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising again each time we fall,” and I thought of you.  You have never let life keep you down, no matter what it throws your way.

It was you that found me my first home.  Even though it was badly in need of some TLC, we both saw the beauty in its bones.  You always love to see something transformed and we so often share a vision of what could be.   After an exhausting day of working on the house, you would arrive with Burger King and force me to stop and eat.

When we were looking to buying our last home, I always called you to come along.  I loved to have your opinion and share the experience of going through homes with you.  I remember that you have never been afraid of tools or of getting your hands dirty.  You always taught me that women are more than capable of handling a hammer or a drill and this has been a truly priceless gift in my own life.  I have loved to show you the things I have built, repaired or renovated, and to see the delight in your eyes.

Thank you for teaching me to sew and to cook.  Thanks also for always being there to help me with mending, putting in a zipper or creating a fabulous skirt for me with a matching dress for your granddaughter at the drop of a hat.  Thanks for being there to offer moral support and quietly answer questions when I am cooking for a crowd.  And at the end of the night when I thank you, you always say you didn’t do anything.  Yes, you did.

I love the cups of tea we have shared as much as the glasses of wine.  Those hours we have found to just share one another’s company have been such a source of comfort for me.  I love it when we have that synergy.

I will always giggle when I think of trips to the strawberry patch, and we left wearing more on our clothes than we had in our basket.  I don’t remember, but I’m sure that it was usually you who squished first!  I cherish the memories of trips through the woods, hunting for fiddleheads, and the memories of you working in the garden at the camp and at home.  And how many times did you suddenly pull the car over to retrieve some rare vegetation that you glimpsed in the woods?  In retrospect, I guess we are lucky we were never poisoned, but we kids sure came by our love of the outdoors honestly.

I love that, when life throws me a curve ball, as life often will, I usually come home to find a dinner or a pot of homemade soup in our fridge.  It’s not always easy to say the right thing, but you always seem to do the right things.  You are always thinking of others before yourself.  So many people in our city and, in fact, our world, have benefitted from your philanthropy.  More people than I probably will ever know.  I am very proud to call you my mom.

We have shared so much, Mom.  When I look back on our lives, I know we have had our struggles (as any mother and daughter will) but the word that comes to mind is “team.”  I remember the day we leaned together over your own mother –  my own beloved Gram – and wished her Godspeed as she took her last breath.  I heard you sob, “Mommy” and I learned that our mothers are forever our Mommies, no matter how old we are.  I am so honoured to have been there with you and I pray for the same honour when it is your time to go.  Let me hold your hand, like you held your mother’s, and send you to the next world with words of love singing in your ears.

Thank you for the incredible relationship you have with our daughter.  From the moment you first held her in your arms when she was just minutes old, there was a tangible connection between you.  This bond has only grown as the years have passed.  It is as though you have known one another for many lifetimes before this one.  Thank you for always being there for her and for being her best friend.  She cherishes you and she is so at ease when you are near.  That is such a joy to me.  I almost fear more for her than for myself when, together, we have to tell you goodbye for the last time.

But Mom, I am not ready to do that.  So I must ask you to please fight this fight too.  Don’t give up too soon.  I am not ready to let you go.

I am just not ready to lose my Mommy.  It likely won’t be tomorrow, next week, nor even next month, but it will be sooner than I would or will ever want it to be.  I know, when you go, people will immediately ask me how old you were.  And when I say 76, or 79, or 82, they will press their lips together, cast their eyes down, shrug slightly and nod once.  They will all be thinking that you have lived your life and that it is not really so young to die.

Why do people seem to gauge the tragedy of death by the age of the dead?

They don’t know that I catch your face in the mirror many times a day, with the turn of my head or a lift of my brow.  I glance down at my hands, mirror images of your own, and I am so often transported to my childhood; to times when I looked at your hands as they held me.  I hear your voice when I speak and the sound of your laughter echoes in mine.

They won’t feel the hole in my heart.  They don’t know how I will miss you so, each and every day, until the day I join you, wherever it is we go when we leave this place.  They don’t know that you are a million memories for me, each one as vibrant as the last.  They don’t know you and treasure you like I do and always will.

I love you mom.  Then, now, and forever.