April 13, 2022 – Memories of our Wonderful Mother
My Mother was born April 13th, 1920, and died July 26th, 2020 at 100 years, 3 months, and 13 days. She died full of love and gratitude for her life, surrounded by her immediate family and with nothing left unsaid. One thing that my entire family – siblings; cousins; first cousins once removed; aunts, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and outlaws – would agree on, is how fortunate we were to have been part of her kind, loving, inclusive, and wholehearted approach to everyday living.
Three Years ago when Mom was 98, she did her 2nd annual Marathon walk ( 5 K) with 35 of her family from all over the continent. This was in the month of May in Ottawa . The 1st annual was held in Nova Scotia, the year before, where we did the 10K walk together. Always followed by an after-party with medals, laughter, and lots of celebratory toasts, this was not a race for us. This was walking to the pace of the slowest walker and having a chance to be together and visit while being active. Several of us would go on to walk and run the 1/2 and the full Marathons the next day. So much fun.
And the point here is, if it were not for Mom, this wouldn’t have happened. There was little interest in doing this crazy thing when we first suggested it. However, once everyone heard that Mom was coming and she would walk, well, everyone who was available said YES. And it began like that.
29798 was Mom’s bib number and we loved it because it was her 2nd marathon and 97 and 98 were her ages the years she participated.
The after-party included family from New York City; Virginia; Maine; across Canada from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia.
The Gift of Years
Mom lived 100 years and you can detect her good spirit, love, and joie de vivre shining through. When I once asked what she thought about her life, she said, “It was so much better than I had expected.” Anytime I tried to pin her down to her best year, she would always say, “this one.”
“I go to bed happy and I get up happy, ” was her common refrain.
So what is it about my Mother that we all adored? There are many things but I think it comes down to these:
“She had the gratitude thing going,”
As my friend, Meredith pointed out. “Life doesn’t have to be easy in order for your Mother to be grateful.”
In fact, my Mother believed that things would get better around the corner and she went looking for exactly that. And guess what? She found it. Mom continually shone the spotlight of her attention on what was going right and what was “good enough” about all the people in her life and turned a blind eye to our flaws. Thank goodness.
One of my acquaintances who barely knew my Mother said this. “When I am with your Mother I feel completely accepted. I’ve never had that experience before and it is the greatest gift.”
Yet, she wasn’t a pushover.
She stood up for what was right. When she was 95, a new company bought the seniors building where she lived and she didn’t like the way they treated management. She wrote polite and strong letters; she spoke up at town hall meetings, but nothing changed. So she went looking, for a new place to live, and moved. She wanted to live where all people were treated with respect.
Her age never entered the equation, only what was controllable and what was not. The bottom line, if she couldn’t do anything about it she accepted it, without complaint. If there was something she could do or influence she did it, without drama or righteousness. She simply took appropriate action and moved on.
Like an unwanted guest, Covid 19, interrupted her big celebration at 100. Yet, her comment when we realized there would be no party: “imagine a guest like that crashing our big party. But my Birthday will still happen; I will still turn 100. And now we get to have a different, once-in-a-lifetime party.”
And this very willing and curious woman, was alone in her apartment, instead of with 75 of her favourite people at the Union Club in Victoria;and she did turn 100. Disappointed, yes, but no complaints; rather, she invested time and effort into learning and practicing video conferencing and video chat tools so she could be with her family online, in a zoom room. None of us have ever once heard our Mother say, “I’m too old for that.” She did every single thing she could do, with grace and appreciation. And with the finesse to accept a hand if she needed it.
Her lifelong learning included learning to weave at 65; swim at 75; watercolour at 80; use an I-pad at 90 as just four examples. and she went up in a hot air balloon with me and my two adult kids for my 65th birthday. She was 91. You get the picture. Don’t ever believe that possibilities are scarce as we get older.
Love of Family
Her love of family was without measure. It was the number one most important thing in her life. She beamed out love like the brightest star and it came with no strings attached. No guilt trips; no complaints; just so happy to be with her family and we all counted. The 52nd cousin once removed was always important. Well, that is a slight, but only a slight exaggeration. And you didn’t have to be related by blood. You could be related by heart. The golden thread that runs through all of our lives is not reserved for blood relatives. The connections in our family life run deep and wide. The word family has a broad definition.
To have a Mother like ours who was filled with love, generosity, gratitude, curiosity, initiative, creativity, resourcefulness and the wisdom gleaned from her long life, was to be inordinately blessed. How to thank her for being there forever? There are not enough words! My goal is to be more like my Mother as I live longer. Her adopted children- Sheila and Jim, from England have declared her a National Treasure, and my sister Gabriole and I are delighted to share her with all of our friends. Mother had enough love to go around. May we continue her legacy.
Remembering you on your birthday sweet Mother. Your 100 year legacy was a gift to us all and you inspire us still. You continue to make the world a better place.
Mom’s Pearls of Wisdom
The most important thing is the support of family and friends.
Keep some younger people in your life; especially the children.
Don’t hold grudges – leave past disappointments and hurt feelings behind.
Don’t hurt others by word or deed and apologize immediately if you do.
Don’t be jealous of others.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t expect too much.
Lend a helping hand whenever you can and be kind to others especially those who are having difficulties.
Do your best to stay healthy: eat well but don’t deprive yourself of a treat.
Exercise is important every day – either aerobics or going for a walk.
Never be afraid to try new things and continue to learn new things.
Concentrate on the positive and don’t grieve over things you cannot do anymore.
Be grateful for what you have and enjoy every day you are alive.
Note 1:) Pink and white dogwoods are Mom’s favourite and I thank Shutterstock for having what I needed. And she also loved this song. Press the arrow to play and enjoy.
Note 2:) This reminds me of Mom, one in a million.
Note 3:) Thank you for reading this far and getting to know a little about my Mother. She, of course, was a faithful reader of my blog. I appreciate all of you. Warmest wishes and may you enjoy this Easter and Passover time. Trudy
Note 4:) a few memories: When a loved one dies, besides missing them we miss the way they were with others. My Mother did not know this sweet addition to the family – Sophie’s dog Sasha – our new family member who arrived five days before Mom’s birthday but she would have loved her.
Trudy, what a wonderful blessing you had in your Mother. And I’m sure she would say the same about you. Thank you for letting me get to know her better. I remember Sheila talking about going swimming regularly with your Mom. I know she loved her. The pictures of her with family are priceless. Terri
Thank you dear Terri. She was a wonderful Mom. Those days swimming with Mom and Sheila are some of my best memories. Warmly, Trudy
Thanks so much for sharing your precious memories of your much-loved Mom with us, Trudy. I’m grateful to her for raising you to be yet another remarkable woman.
Thank you dear Wendy. What kind words. Warmest wishes, Trudy
Oh my Trudy, almost two years already!!! I’m listening to Somewhere Over the Rainbow with tears in my eyes – so grateful to ‘know’ your Mum through you. She sounds so much like you. Just sayin’ 🙂 xoxoxox
Thank you Janice. Times goes by so quickly and it is easy to think it will go on forever. I was lucky to have my Mother for 73 years. Imagine that!! as always, trudy
Trudy, thank you for sharing your remarkable mother with us. The first time I met you, you had been in Ninimo(sp) spending Sunday afternoon
with her. I always wished I could have known her, too. Thought Gottfried might be in one of the pictures. I know he adored her, too. I’m sure you miss her dearly, but what a gift she was to all of you and to the world!
Thank you dear Carol. The reason you couldn’t spot Gottfried is because he was always the photographer. Thanks for your dear note. The town is Nanaimo. You were close. Warmest wishes, trudy
Gottfried is finally home again and I had him send me a copy of one wonderful photo of the two of them. It’s on my blog now. And they adored each other.
Trudy, What a beautiful, warm tribute to your Mom. May I develop a wee bit of her self understanding, grace, acceptance, compassion and ability to do what she could when she could. Thank you for sharing. Hugs, Mary
Thanks dear Mary. I would think you already have many of those traits. Warmest wishes,
Trudy, this morning I was thinking of your Mom. I felt blessed to be reunited with her after many many years. Your Mom touched my heart and the short time I was able to spend with her, I will treasure always. Your tribute to Aunt Eileen is simply beautiful. Thank you for this. Love Linda
Thank you dear Linda for this kind note. I can assure you the feeling was mutual. Mom thoroughly loved every visit and outing with you. The time was short but meaningful. Warmest wishes, trudy
We continue to be inspired by Mother and miss her dearly. We are truly blessed that she was part of our lives. We learned so much from her. Thanks to you Trudy and Gabriole for generously sharing her.
Hugs Sheila and Jim xx
Thank you for your dear tribute to Mother. You wined and dined her and made her life special from the beautiful cakes; the calls from around the world and your kind and loving attention. Grateful, trudy
Such a beautiful tribute Trudy and so true are your words. And believe me she lives on today in you and Gabriole. Each day I see Gabriole, it’s your mom’s face smiling back at me. And I marvel how yourself and Gabriole’s words and mannerisms match Eileen’s. It truly is remarkable to me how a simple phrase or a little smile with a slight nod of the head from Gabriole makes me give my head a shake and wonder who I’m really communicating with.
Another attribute that I always equate when I think of Eileen is tenacity, something both you and Gabriole share. I remember when she was learning to knit with circular needles to make Harry Potter scarves for her many grandchildren and when it wasn’t quite perfect she’d rip it out and start all over again. And I think she learned that particular skill in her early 90’s if I’m not mistaken. Thanks for a beautiful trip down memory lane. 💕🥰
What a lovely comment Lindi. And for the reminder of the scarves. It’s true she was in her late 90’s when she took up knitting for the sole purpose of making Harry Potter scarves. The first one she made, she unravelled and started again 17 (seventeen) times on the circular needles. She then went on to knit the rest. (I got one too – a ravenclaw🙂)You were part of her memory lane. Warm spring wishes, trudy
Oh Trudy. What a beautiful tribute! What a beautiful and inspiring mother. I wish to be more like her also! Thanks for sharing this. I love her and love you. You made my day.
Thank you Patti. Both of us ended up with lovely Mothers. So so lucky to be loved like that. Big hugs and enjoy your Easter time in the mountains. As always, trudy
Lovely tribute to your Mom. How fortunate to have a loving ,kind family at your fingertips.
Thank you Kathryn: it was easy to take my mother for granted. Thank goodness she lived a long life so I had a chance to show her my love and appreciation. Thanks for your beautiful and true words,”a loving, kind family at your fingertips.”warm wishes coming your way, Trudy
Beautiful Trudy, just beautiful. Your dear Mother is smiling down on you…as she does every day.
I love your mother…and you too.
Thank you dear Nancy. You too have a wonderful mother. We are so lucky. And they are also both Mothers to many. Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs, trudy
Dear Trudy, I always look forward to reading your blog. What a wonderful way to honor your mother. She was an exceptional woman in many ways, in reading your words. How she lived her life is an inspiration to me. I turned 70 on April 12th and must admit, I felt a bit diminished..like I was “over the hill” now. After reading your tribute to her and her “pearls of wisdom”, I can believe that “possibilities are not scare as we get older”. I will be writing her pearls of wisdom down in my journal to remind me of all of the possibilities.! Thank you for sharing your mother’s joy and love of life!
Thank you Connie. I’m happy to hear that you are inspired to reconsider your possibilities. Sing while there’s voice left. Warm wishes, Trudy
Love the photos especially, Trudy, and so nice to see Sasha too! Thank you as always for a beautiful read.
Thank you Margaret for your kind note. I wish you a lovely spring weekend. Warmly, Trudy
Thank you Trudy for sharing your memories and wisdom of your mom. I can relate since my mom is turning 95 on June 11. She got her first paycheck when she was 80 years. We really need to treasure our mothers, they are always the best one!
Thank you Flora. Your mom was very special. (like her daughter) Imagine your first paycheck at 80 years old. That is a great legacy. Really love this story. Warmest wishes,