Saturday, January 17, 2015


Every morning I drink my coffee from a hand thrown mug made to look like a scotch thistle. My mother gave me the mug for Christmas several years ago. It's My Mug. Around Christmas, I sometimes use a mug painted with a reindeer, with the name “Dancer” near the foot. My mother gave me that mug for Christmas back in high school. When I'm thirsty, I get a glass from the cupboard, either one of my glasses that came with Pom iced tea in it, or a glass with a picture of a pig on it. My mother brought me the two Pom teas when I was sick and Jon and I were living in Orleans. She gave me the pig glass for Christmas about twenty years ago.

My favourite socks are the warm and woolly socks she would gift me every Christmas. I have this silver bangle that she bought herself in Quebec City in her teens and gave to me for my thirteenth birthday: I've been wearing it essentially constantly ever since.

She is in every room of my home. From the Beatrix Potter posters she gave us when Glynis was born to the koala with a music box in its belly for my first Christmas, she is everywhere. She is always. That dance, music, literature, craftiness are a part of my being is her doing. She sketched the outline of the shape my life has taken.

Before she was ill, I spoke to my mother almost daily, calling her, interrupting her work – yes, I'm sorry, Sir Wil, but I was constantly calling her at the office – just to chat. To tell her things I was doing or things my girls had said or done that I thought would amuse her. To vent frustrations, knowing she'd have something good to say: not that she'd always agree but that she'd always have an understanding ear. Earlier this week I felt the impulse to call her, to tell her how hard all this is. But I couldn't.


Her delight in her grandchildren was so undeniable, so immeasurable it was inspiring. That she won't see Glynis's front teeth grow in, or hear Scarlet lose her toddler lisp, or watch them dance, or hear any more of their songs crushes me. She loved them so much, and I loved sharing our life with her. I loved seeing them through her eyes, through her adoration, knowing how proud she was of everything they are and do.

scarlet and gran
She is woven into every space, every day, every moment. She was the first thing, the first truth I ever knew. I never, ever doubted her love for me, no matter how hard things got. She taught me what it is to be a mother, not in her perfection because no one is ever perfect and God, she would hate for us to say she was perfect, but in her loving, her struggle, her persistence, her open ear. As I grew up and our lives changed, I watched and learned from her what it is to make a fresh start, the balance of the selflessness of motherhood and needful, healthy self-interest, the value of self-reliance, not because she didn't lean on others but because some things we must do for ourselves.

glynis and gran

Her fight, her determination, her willingness to put herself through any amount of struggle in an effort to have more time with us all was amazing and inspiring. She wore a bracelet engraved with the word "survivor". Given to her by her sister: she died wearing that bracelet. And she was a survivor. Because while her body was too broken to carry on, the example she set in her living will indeed live on with we who have been so privileged to have known her.

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