On September 16th my entire world changed. And no matter how prepared I thought I was, I was never really going to be prepared. My mother passed away from the cancer that had been ravaging her body. I spent a lot of time with her in her last couple of days. So much so that I felt the strong need to speak at The Celebration for her Life. Below is the Eulogy that I delivered to over 300 people packed into my parents church.
Today I woke up and thought I was having a nightmare only to realize that it wasn’t a dream.
My amazing, loving mother has passed away at the age of 61.
In April we got the devastating news that my mother was diagnosed and for the next few months I ran a full gamete of emotions. I was completely lost for a bit. Depressed for a bit. Sad and heartbroken. I would cry. I spent a very long time thinking about the fact that my mother was going to miss a large part of my life, especially that she wouldn’t be there when I was finally blessed with a child. She wouldn’t be able to tell me if I was a good mother or even if I was a bad one. Christmases would never be the same without her amazing food, warm smiles and thoughtful gifts. I kept thinking of all that she was going to miss and how that was going to affect my life. I shed a lot of tears and turned to close friends who understood me and gave me strength. And then I distracted myself with other things because I knew that my mother would want me to keep living, loving and laughing.
I felt that I had let her down because I was so busy focusing on how her cancer was affecting me that I wasn’t focusing on her. I made it my mission to spend time with her and ask questions and talk about my feelings and ask her opinions.
I found that my mom was still my mom, quick with a quip, ready to smile and that she loved me, her other children and grandchildren.
It was only the week before she died that I really started to see that it wasn’t about what she was going to miss, it was that she lived a full and complete life. She loved deeply. She cared about people and not just her family and friends, but people at church, at work and even my friends, as many have told the impact that she had on their lives. My mom was always ready for a smile. Always ready to help whenever asked. She was the best story teller, and the best listener. She could comfort me in a way that no one else could.
My mother was willing to go on adventures in her life and as my sister said this past week when we were going through pictures, it seemed like she was always on vacation. One of our favourite jaunts together involved taking a trip to Ikea with a small stop at the casino on the way home or at Dee’s for some butter tarts. In 2003, I was able to show her around Jasper, a small mountain town in Alberta that I lived in when I was 22. She climbed Whistler mountain with me and my dad and was so happy to see the snow in June. She was able to laugh and explore and was so proud of me for having taken that journey on my own.
My mother always supported me so she cried sometimes when I cried and was strong when I needed her to be. Over the years, she helped me through many heartbreaks from the loss of a pet, to the loss of a boyfriend. She was always at my ringette, hockey and baseball games – on the bench or in the stands. In cold arena’s she would clap her loud mittens, cheer loudly and sometimes shake homemade noisemakers made from empty bleach bottles and rocks. She was right there with me on my college graduation and my wedding day, smiling and looking at me with pride on her face and love in her heart, the same way she did with all of us.
She always wanted the best for her kids and grandkids and I am so glad we got to talk about that the day before she passed. I sat with her and talked with her about everything and everyone in our family and shared memories we had together. I talked to her about how she was the coolest mom ever when I was a kid because she worked at the bowling alley making footlong hot dogs and how great it was that she allowed us to have lemonade stands during garage sales.
I talked to her about our “sprinklers” made from a hose turned upside down in the backyard and how she made me a swimming pool in our house at Norfolk by using our bathtub. We talked about homemade play doh and bike rides. I teased her about how I was her favourite and she very clearly said “I don’t have a favourite,” and I assured her that I knew that as she loved each of us with all her heart.
I kept going and took her on a journey to one of our favourite places on earth, Long Point. As she smiled I told her about how wonderful it was to lie on a swing and listen to the lake breeze go through the poplar trees and the waves gently lap the shore. How Uncle Ron played his mouth organ for us and then we would line dance on the sand with my grandmother and Aunt Thel. I talked about the wonderful bonfires we’ve had and how she taught me to make a marshmallow perfectly golden by spinning it slowly.
We talked about each of her children and she agreed that we have all grown up really well and that we have taken really good care of her, from cooking for her and holding her hand to helping her do the day to day things since she got sick. We talked about her grandchildren and what they were doing, from Brittanie getting a new job to Kassi looking for one. To Kamryn enrolling in a new school in Hespeler and how he has friends there. We talked about Brayden and his amazing football talent and how proud she and I both were at him for making team Canada. We talked about how tall Saige and Tori have gotten and how Tori calls mom her best friend. We talked about Zak and how he’s loving his new school and how him and dad were working together on a lawn tractor.
I told her how important it was to see her and my dad together because that showed me what love is. I’ve seen the way my dad always looked at my mom and know it is the same as my husband looks at me. We even talked about stories I remember her telling me from her youth, of my grandmother chasing her down the street with a hairbrush because she didn’t like her thick hair brushed and how she liked to skip school to go roller skating. We talked about the family and how important mom was to all of us growing up and how she made us the way we are today.
Even when she couldn’t really speak anymore I kept going. I needed her to know that she led a full life. That she was loved and that she meant so much to all of us. I didn’t want to think about her not being there in the future because by that point I knew that she always would be. She would be in my heart and in all of our hearts. My voice of reason, laughing with me, crying with me and supporting me. She would still be there holding my hand when I needed it because she was always there for me since the day I was born on a snowy December night waving at the world.
She has always been friend, my support system and my mother. I am who I am today because of her. She is gone but will never be forgotten.