As my mother and I both shared a passion for writing, the idea of hopefully achieving my dreams of becoming published...and not being able to share that with her...really hurt. It was suffocating at times, immobilizing at others. The instinctual fire that I must do this - in her memory - and not give up until I break through that ribbon and cross that finish line - became overshadowed by the deep ache my heart.
All of that is still the same, though this anniversary seemed shockingly...bearable.
Instead of dwelling on all the loss and pain, emptiness and heartache, regret and anger, I found my thoughts and memories leading me to feelings of happiness. Though finding it increasingly more difficult to sleep the closer October 18th crept, it was fond memories of my childhood that kept me up at nights. And though tears prickled at the back of my eyes, a smile would tug on the corner of my mouth. Instead of missing all the moments that have not yet and will not happen, I remembered moments of my childhood that warm my heart.
Like the times during winter, back in the mid-eighties, when we'd come in from playing in the snow to hot cocoa and a heated electric blanket waiting to warm us up. Or how, while working in a print shop as a book binder (leather book covers etc), she'd bring home umpteen colouring sheets and activity pages. This one time, she surprised my sister and I, when we returned from James Bay Community school; in the middle of the living room was a large cardboard box. What could be inside but two itty bitty kittens which were soon named Ginger and Rascal.
One year for Christmas she made a pair of knitted/crocheted cats. They were a mom and kitten and fastened together with Velcro or a button. I loved it so much and still wish I had them to this day. We moved so much that the cherished items from my childhood only exist in my memory.
I really loved the walks along Dallas Road beach in Victoria. We'd collect shells and weathered sea glass, as well as perfectly shaped rocks that would soon be painted as lady bugs or butterflies or mice. I remember also going blackberry picking. How she would distinctly remind us not to eat any of them until we got home so we could wash them. And then on the way home, she'd ask me if I ate any, even though the evidence was all over my face and hands.
I remember with extreme clarity, the super human strength she exhibited in 2000, just after I was hit by a car and was in a wheelchair with both legs raised out in front of me. Following an appointment at the orthopaedic surgeon's office on the top of a ridiculous hill (I will never understand how out of ALL places, they chose there for a medical office), we had to make it all the way down to the bus which goes along the bottom of a long and dangerously steep hill (New Westminster is known for these). Her iron grip saved me from flying down the hill and into traffic. And even though her death lock grip inflicted pain in her arms and hands for the days following...she never complained.
And, that even during the difficult times, such as times when we'd wait in line at the food bank or welfare office, or those spent at a woman's shelter, she always tried to make it as things we're okay. That we weren't struggling as bad as we were. She taught me to appreciate what you have in life, no matter how little. To remember that there are people out there who have it worse - the truly homeless, the hungry or the unwell. No matter how little we had, she'd always help a neighbour in need and truly, always had a way of making the best of any situation. I'd like to think I got a little of that from her, though on my grey-ist of days it may not be as apparent.
So whenever I find my heart aching and memories straying, I'm going to look at this photo and remember my mother for the compassionate and caring, strong, independent woman, mother, super-hero she truly was.
With all my heart, I love you Mom!
***I've posted one of my Mom's poems on the poetry page, hope you have a read. Hope to get a chance to upload a few more in the coming days.