I've been thinking a lot about my mother these days. She was a diminutive woman, quiet spoken, gentle, full of joy and love. I cannot tell my story without telling hers.
There are a number of chapters within my mother's story. First there is the chapter, that to me as a child was far off and misty, her life before marriage and children. She grew up in Toronto not far from Casa Loma. She rode her bike, fell off it once and broke her arm, went to school, church, Sunday school, and spent her summer vacations at the family cottage on Lake Huron. She lived through the depression and WWII. As a young woman my mother studied and earned a degree from U of T then went to Shaw business school; after which, she worked for the Toronto Board of Education. It's hard to imagine, but my mom went to foot-ball games, hockey games, dances and parties. She bought herself three fur coats, which as a child I marveled over; the fur was so soft. My mum met my Dad when she was twenty-five and they went on dates! My parents eventually married, and started a family. My mother had a baby about every two years until my youngest brother Paul was born when she was thrity-eight.
I am the third child of five, and the only girl. Growing up, life was full, we played foot-ball and soccer, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, hide and seek, road hockey, we climbed trees and rode our bikes for hours at a time. My mother stayed home with us; she read to us, took us to the library, sang to us, taught us songs and rhymes, helped me set up tea parties for my dolls, and let us make gargantuan forts in the living room. One of the things I remember vividly is that my mother didn't just read stories, she told them complete with unique voices for different characters, and we had our favourites. She had a marvelous memory, and could recite poetry. Some of the poems I remember her reciting are, "The Cremation of Sam McGee", "The Raven", and "The Highway Man." She was really good at holding our attention. In spite of all this my mother always seemed a little sad, even a little distant to me as a child. I once asked her why she never smiled. There were things about my mother's life that were shrouded in mystery. Thoughts and feelings that she never shared.
One day, when I was about fourteen, I came home from school and my mother said she had something to tell me. She told me that she had asked Jesus into her heart, and then she cried. This is another chapter in my mother's life, her life with Jesus. She became joyful like there was something lighting her from the inside. That light never died even though she suffered. Two of my brothers were mentally ill. My youngest brother committed suicide at the age of twenty-five, and my oldest drank, and then one day, while in a drunken stupor, he fell backwards down the stairs in his house; he suffered a massive head injury and died alone. My mother's light never went out. I'm crying as I write this, remembering the blow of the unexpected deaths of loved ones gone too soon. They were my brothers; they were my mother's sons. She held them in her arms as babies, nursed them, dreamed dreams for them, and finally she grieved for them. Yet her light never went out.
When I think of my mother, I think faith, hope and love, especially love.
She did not spend her life amassing a fortune, beautifying herself, or gaining position; instead, she spent it loving others. She left us the greatest legacy of all.