A Tribute to Our Mother … Obituary April 20, 2001
Today I have another chance to remember my dear mother and grandmother. I hope in your spiritual world you can hear me because in my mind I hear your voice and words. Sometimes it doesn’t matter you are gone for almost 20 years now, my throat stills chokes up because your memories are alive and your kind smiles are still missed so much.
Easy nostalgia looks back at how things used to be. You were Dad’s life partner and even if you complained about sore knees or being tired his meals were always prepared, laundry done and house work cleaned. Sometimes you’d ask for my help and sometimes it was given graciously and sometimes it was refused for all kinds of petty excuses, including “well, next time.”
Simple anticipation always waited for your children to visit to have a cup of tea, enjoy a treat and just chat … sometimes laugh, sometimes cry because life wasn’t always smooth especially with age. How many times did you ask me to stay overnight because “parents don’t last forever.” And I’d say we have lots of time yet…maybe, next time. Now I would love to visit even one day like it used to be and turn “next time” into give us another chance.
That last spring there was that nagging cough that wouldn’t go away. Then one morning there was difficulty in breathing sending you to the hospital. With a respirator you came home for Easter but nobody really understood through your calmness how sick you really were.
Your last couple weeks went by so quickly spent in the hospital again. The last night my brothers’ families visited making small talk without realizing that the door would close forever soon. But we probably didn’t say all that we could have said, but even in your privacy you must have known our hearts would have done anything to help you through the cancer . Looking back I am still amazed at your courage and quiet dignity in facing this ultimate challenge.
The next morning we were called to the family room where you had slipped into a coma with difficult breathing where I held your hand feeling its warmth that suddenly turned cold as life’s force slipped from you releasing the spirit quietly leaving behind all your good deeds to live through your children and grandchildren. You left behind a husband of 54 years and 5 children and 8 grandchildren.
You were born in 1924 and from a comfortable life in town, your marriage brought you to live on a farm homestead of various enterprises where self resilience and self sufficiency were worth more than money. You only knew how to be a stay-at-home mom with lots of family time to heal the scrapes, make snacks, read stories and sing songs. As an excellent homemaker you took pride in your cooking, gardening and many craft skills to make a comfortable home. Winning the grand aggregate trophy at the local fall fair for best vegetables, canning, baking as often as you did in competition with other homemakers was endless pride and joy.
I remember the one time you visited me in Vancouver and you wanted to buy a ruby ring for yourself. We went to the large Woodward store to find something suitable. The image remains crystal clear of your large calloused hands trying on different rings that would fit your work weathered fingers. Resting beside them were the long lacquered pink fingernails and soft hands of the polite sales clerk. That stark image of rough fingers will always symbolize the meaning of your life’s purpose displaying the beautiful virtues of hard work, honesty and doing your best. You insisted on paying for the ring, something you had proudly earned.
You exemplified open hospitality with quiet manners, neatness and order, a penny saved is a penny earned, beauty is found in small things, a smile and a laugh were good medicine and moral values lasted a lifetime.
We were so blessed to have been loved so by our mother.
Sometimes, in retrospection, I think how much the world has changed especially for mothers. Their roles have expanded into the work force probably to add more cash flow to the household income. This means so many different expectations to maintain careers, to keep up with kids’ activities, to fancify your homes with the pressure of everyone else watching and judging, sometimes reaching impossible boundaries.
We can only do what we can within our proximity, and that is more than good enough for our children. Loving our kids takes priority because the commitment lasts a lifetime. In the end, all that matters is to be part of something good and to leave something good behind. And to live well knowing that true love never dies.
Perhaps her 8 year-old grandson can say it the best as a story he wrote in Grade 3, a value system he can now pass on to his baby daughter. No one ever made borscht like grandma. She learned from her grandmother, then taught her daughter and then her daughter taught my mother. But still no one makes borscht like Helen. She always liked baking cookies, apple pie, tarts, dumplings, apple sauce, canning fruit s and casseroles. She never yelled, shouted or hit. She was always thinking of others
Life goes on; but let my lesson be to spend as much time as you can making memories with your mother so when she is gone you will have enough sustenance to live well without her without regrets. Most importantly, don’t say there will be a “next time” to visit because next time sometimes is never excusable when next time never comes.
A mother’s love is the golden link binding youth to age,
Who cannot happily recall, with a softened heart,
The fond devotion and gentle chidings,
Of the best friend God ever gave. Christine Boree