My world stopped when I got the call from my broken-hearted brother that I should get home as soon as I possibly could. It was the call I was dreading for days, but somehow suspected was coming. I got a flight that night (thanks to the most amazing WestJet employee who, after 1.5 hours, managed to find me a way out of Calgary) and got to my Mom’s side as quick as I could. I held her hand. I introduced her to Oliver and he held her fingers. And I talked, or rather mumbled and blubbered, and sat in silence with my brothers waiting on a miracle that never came. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
On November 11th, 2014 I joined a club I never wanted a join. The club no one wants to join. Children living in the world without their Mothers. There are many, many other people who have joined this club. Heck, my own Mother joined it twice. Twice she had to say goodbye to the woman she called Mom. So as hard as it is, and no matter how much my heart and soul were breaking I kept putting one foot in front of the other because that’s what my Mom taught me. She had the strength so I know I will eventually find it too.
I wish I was strong enough to have done a Eulogy for her at the funeral but there was no way I could stand up in front of people and talk with the needed strength about the woman who gave me life and taught me what life, love, and loyalty is. I couldn’t get my thoughts together in those days following. I was in the biggest fog in my life. I still am.
So I will write for her now. She always loved my blog and was always wanting me to write more so I will try.
I don’t even know where to start. I haven’t been able to put fingers to the keys to get it out. The hardest part wasn’t losing my Mom, it’s learning to live in the world without her in it. There’s so much I want the world to know about my Mom. So much I could say. Some called her KitKat. Others called her Kat, or Kath, Peanut, or all of the above. We called her Mom (& Nanny/Granny).
She was a warrior. A fighter. A kind soul. A listening ear. A giggly, patient, soft spoken woman who had a love for all things that glittered and shone. She was almost unbeatable in Scrabble. I shouldn’t have even bothered playing her in Boggle either because she always had more words than I could even write/type in the same amount of time. She loved music, but
hated disliked most of our musical choices (as many parents do). She loved head tickles as much as I loved back scratches. She was just wee, but was larger than life and capable of carrying so many burdens and battles and she kept on keepin’ on. “Though she be but little, she is fierce” (Shakespeare). And was was fierce in many ways but in her own way. It wasn’t often “Mama Bear” came out but she would find her voice and she would never back down when it came to protecting her family. Lord help the person who hurt one of us. You always knew you could count on Mom to have our back or to give us support, no matter what happened or even when it was our own fault. Don’t get me wrong, she would still give us a swift kick to the butt and let us know what she thought of the situation but she was always remained in our corner regardless. You were never alone when you had my Mom.
Over the days of visitations and phone calls, so many people told me that ever since my Mom was little she dreamed of the day she would become a Mother. She struggled to get there, but eventually she was blessed three times over. She was a great Mom. The best. She did the best she could and she raised 3 strong, happy, independent children. We may not have had a lot, but we had everything. A Mom who loved us and made sure we never felt “less”. I know she struggled with not being able to provide us (materially) with everything she wanted, but we had the things we needed and those aren’t the important things in life any way. She gave us many happy memories and days of love and laughter. That’s my “everything” any way.
No matter where I went or what I did, Mom was the first person I’d message. She was the first to know about my engagement to John. The first to know I was going to be a Mom (x3). The first person to hear the heartbreak in my voice when relationships ended or things didn’t go as planned. The first person to hear all my successes and defeats. She talked me through recipes, how to get stains out of laundry, and how to do hospital corners on a bed. Sorry Mom, I still can’t do those like you can.
But now, I’m left wondering who am I going to call when I need help with her recipes? Who am I going to call when one of my boys are sick and I’m not sure what to do? Who am I going to call with secrets or good news? Who am I going to call that knows what I need to hear without having to say it? All I had to do was breathe a big sigh and she knew exactly what to say next. She somehow she figured me out (no easy task I’m sure) and made it better. Or at least helped me get through until it was better again. After Noah was born she just knew what I needed. She knew stressed out, broken me without me having to say it. I didn’t have to be anyone else. She held it together when I fell apart and she gave me the space I needed but at the same time, made me feel like she was always right there. She just had that way. Now I need to figure out the way to live in a world without her. That she couldn’t teach me and I’m lost.
I’ll never forget her laughing fits. Something would strike her as funny and she couldn’t stop. She’d end up curled up in a ball with a sore stomach and tears streaming down her face but I couldn’t help but laugh along with her. Sometimes I didn’t even know why we were laughing, we just were. It was the best feeling. I’ll miss it.
Christmas was my Mom’s favourite time of year. She loved it. It was hard this year. I just kept reminding myself this was her most favourite time and she would want us to try and enjoy every minute. I tried. Some days I succeeded, others I just made it through. Every little bite of minced meat pie or chocolate chip cookies–her favourites–took me back to Christmas in Stellarton with her, Gram, and my brothers. It reminded me of her.
You know, one of her pet peeves in life was over those chocolate chip cookies. We refer to them as “Gram’s cookies” but in actuality, it was her recipe. It drove her a little nuts but whenever I pull out the recipe card, I’ll always smile and remember “Gram’s cookies” were Mom’s too.
I’ll never forget our dates to Mings. Our vacations to Moncton. Her dream trip to Maui. Her smile. Our surprise getaway Friday nights in Truro so we could go to a place with a pool. The times she had us play hairdresser so we would brush her hair. The back tickles/rubs she gave me. The hours she spent decorating birthday cakes. Getting up and seeing the un-decorated tree almost decorated because she was so excited that she couldn’t wait for us to get up (she’d leave “our” ornaments to put on though). The time she spent picking out the perfect birthday/Christmas/Congratulations/I miss you card/etc. Then the time she spent underlining the words and phrases she deemed most important. You can’t forget the stickers or the glitter. I’ll never be able to look at Tinkerbell without thinking of her.
I have her crooked pinkies. Her bony wrist bones. Her nose. Her hands. Her middle name. I have her strength, determination, and sensitivity. I wish I had her petite size but I wasn’t blessed with those genes (HA!). I love the heat. She hated it. I’m loud and quick tempered. She was quiet and more controlled. I am tall. She was short. I have green eyes. Hers were blue. I love my long hair. She loved her short hair. But for all the things we didn’t have in common, we had the important things and those other things just made life more interesting between us.
Family is the most important thing in life. Honesty is key. Laughter is the best medicine. Love your brothers. Never forget. Give thanks. Love. Laugh. “Shut up” & “Stupid” are words that didn’t belong in a house. You’ll catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Don’t give up. It’s ok to be afraid. Listen. Be present.
Those are just some of the things I think of when I think of the things she taught me. There’s so much. I learned so much from her. I don’t think she realized what we took in and learned from her, but I hope she did.
I do know Mighty oaks grow from little nuts.
She loved us like no other.
We were her world and now we are her legacy.
“The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Beautifully written Laura, I’m all blurry eyed now. What I remember most about your mom was her thoughtfulness, she was always very inclusive and welcoming whenever I came to visit. She made sure to invite me to your baby shower for Eli, and let me know when Noah made his his appearance before the rest of the fb world knew, I was always touched she remembered me. That thoughtfulness is one of the very same traits that I love about you. Rest peacefully Kathryn.
Such a beautiful tribute to your Mom, Laura. There is nothing like a Mother’s love for her children, or a child’s love for her Mom. Kathryn was a wonderful person, we had some great times together and lots of conversations and thousands of letters written to each other before computers came along. I also will miss playing scrabble with her, and she beat my butt too. Thank you for the wonderful memories.
I am so very sorry for your loss.
So beautifully written. Your Mom would have been very proud of you for capturing her spirit in such a perfect way. Kathryn welcomed me when I first met her, let us sleep off the night before until way too late in the day and made sure I had something good to eat before you put me on the bus to continue my trip back to NL.
We had so much fun planning Eli’s baby shower and putting together a special package for you all when Noah arrived. I loved chatting with her and I always thought that so much of your fire must come from her. She faced hardship with determination and taught you the same. I’ll always remember how we would chat after Noah was born and she would tell me what she thought you needed from me when I didn’t know what to do. Your mother had so much wisdom. I thanked her for that guidance a million times over but I also thanked her for you, my amazing friend. She used to say “Laura is Laura” and I knew exactly what she meant. When her brother said “Kathryn was Kathryn” during the Eulogy it really hit me just how very much you are like you mom. She will live on in you.
Love you guys.
I am sure she is reading this along with all the rest,,, She was so proud of all you kids, I miss her so much, Just last night I was setting here wishing I could call her . She was my best friend For many years and I wish it had been for ever,She was the only one that understood me and I could do the same for her,, we had so many things in common,, It was amazing how many things in our lives were the same and we lived and learned for each of them,,, when I sat with her after her last surgery I was talking to the nurse and she said wow you have lots in common ,,I said yes she is the little of it and I am the big ,, but we are alike ,,,and She opened her eyes and smiled ,,, But alike we were and to understand it was so easy ,, we talked every day and was there for each other these past few years as cancer tore threw our bodies ,, she would say be tough, fight, you cant go and leave me here alone and I said the same to her ,, we would laugh after ,, But I am not laughing now it hurts, ,,But she was small and I was big, she had 1 daughter and 2 sons I had 2 sons and1 daughter ,, she lost 2 moms and I lost 1 when we were kids we struggled with our thoughts alone so many things we held inside and know one knew it or knew how to relate to it,, but we made it by remembering . she went threw a bad divorce and so did I,, I still wonder how I survived we were single moms ,she didn’t work out side the home as much but I worked 4 part time jobs ,,it was hard we had lots of sickness stress and surgery, back problems diabetes and heart defects and cancer ,we loved to research medical terms and we understood them it was fun,, we loved to giggle and laugh until we were weak,, , she was quiet as I used to be but I learned to speak out and say no to be more bold but I had no choice if I wanted to survive . but together we loved life had fun and talked for fun when we needed each other or to help each other through the hard times and sickness ,,I will also always be so thankfull of the days she was here to help last summer when her Aunt Edna was failing and I had knee replacement it was a hard go,, but she did what she could and spent so many days, and weeks here with us,, And last of all was the Johnny Reid concert we took her to last xmas it came up a big blizzard, and I had to drive and I said we may have to turn back,I could hardly see the hood of the van but I kept going,, , she spoke up loud NO NO NO we cant I need to get there ,, it took 3.5 hours driving to get to hfx and she was so anxious nearly running and then stopped and said cant you go any faster,,, I said peanut look I am walking with 2 canes here , its low speed for me and off she went again,, when We caught up I said you are like a bad kid ,, you could have got lost,,,she said I don’t want to be late,, it was 6 30 and the show didn’t start until 7.30,,, ,but we had fun and it was the only time she had been to a concert like that,, so I will always remember the concert in the storm,,, she will always be my best friend until we meet again,, she will always be remembered as a sweet and wonderful person with a heart of gold,, … My Friend
Laura, after reading your inspired blog about your Mother, I was really touched deep down in my heart and I had to take some time to collect myself – I know your Mom, my best friend of 50 years, is so very proud of you and grateful for all of the sentiments you so eloquently expressed here. She told me about your blog some time ago so I could see the photos of her beautiful grandchildren and so I could see for myself what a gifted writer you are – she was right of both accounts. I understand how hard it is to live without your Mother – she has always been there for us with her incredible sense of humour, kindness, warmth, and her quiet, gentle ways. We always called each on our birthdays – she wasn’t able to call me this year in December when I turned 60 – in the days leading to my birthday I shed many tears knowing my dear, old friend,Kath, would not be calling me. Since I moved out west so many years ago our relationship was often nurtured through phone calls – it hurts that I can’t just call her and vice-versa. However, I do know in my heart that she was here wishing me a fantastic birthday and gloating a bit because now I am an old girl in my 60s and she will stay in her 50s forever! Kathryn and I grew up together – we always found a lot to giggle about and we always could count on each other. We did so many things together – in grade 6 we both tried out the the music festival and both were rejected! – I think we were just too nervous for the audition, in grade 7 we were partners for the rat project – real rats!, in grade 8 we were writers for a class newspaper and we inserted the names of our teacher, Mr. Henaut and his fiance into one of the stories (that was the kind of trouble we would get into), we slept over at each other’s houses where we laughed ourselves to sleep, we wore bell bottoms and stove pipe pants and thought we were so cool!, I stayed at Aunt Edna’s house when we went to college in Halifax, we were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings, and we celebrated each and every new baby that graced our lives. Your Mom raised her children with common sense – one of our friends once said, “Here I am flipping through books to figure what to do with my kids and there was Kathryn knowing what to do with success.” Kathryn loved her children and grandchildren with great passion – they are her life. Proud is the word is she would most often use when talking about her children – a few of many, many examples – Jeff, how at such a young age, weathered through a storm with strength and grace and how he paid for her trip out west to meet Eli for the first time. Greg, who came at her beck and call, despite the hardships created in his life. Laura, who when faced with extreme difficulties, handled them with her Mother’s strength and love. All of Kathryn’s children have inherited Kathryn’s gift of parenting – she is so proud of the parents/ uncle/ aunt they have become – they care for their children/nephews/niece with common sense, gentleness, attention, and most of all love and respect. Tomorrow,January 16th, would have been Kathryn’s 60th birthday – no, I can’t call her but she will always be with me. I thank God for the 50 years that this amazing woman was my friend. Happy Birthday, Kath!
Laura, you did a wonderful tribute to your mom. I was good friends with your mother when we were growing up. She lived across the street from me. I remember her 16 birthday party really well. We spent the night running back and forth from her place to mine. My mother went into labour with my youngest sister on her birthday and we kept running back to my place to see if my sister had been born. She did make an appearance on her birthday and we were so excited. My sister grew up hearing all about the party. After awhile your mother and I lost touch with each other. We got back in touch over three years ago and had many long talks into the night. She was always there for me whenever I needed her. We were constantly there for each other. I still wait to talk to her. We were supposed to go out and celebrate her special birthday this year with a special lunch. Instead I will be going out to lunch with a friend and celebrating your mother’s birthday with her and remembering all the good times we had. I am always thinking of you my good friend. Happy Birthday Kathryn. xoxo
Well said, Laura. Your eulogy is perfect, both in content and timing, and is tangible evidence of the love you and your mom shared…and always will. I don’t believe a daughter ever really gets over the loss of her mother. It’s just one more thing we have to survive that makes us stronger. But know this, that memories are forever, and that you will always carry a piece of her love for you in your heart. And gradually as time goes by and the hurt becomes less, you will spend less time shedding tears and more time quietly smiling at all the special moments that made her so special.
I always enjoyed teasing Kathryn on her birthday because I could bug her about being older than me, if only for a few months. 😉 She’s having the last laugh now as it turns out.
Thank you for sharing. Take care!
Thinking of you all,