Life is the sum total of the moments we live. This mantra has been bouncing around my mind today as I took moments to fully enjoy my daughter; as I simply laid on the living room floor and she crawled all over me and I told her that I love her and I reminded her that she is beautiful. My moments with my daughter grow more precious as my own mother’s life hangs in the balance. It has been one week since my mom called with the news: the doctors are querying metastasized cancer. Our call was so business-like. We talked symptoms, we talked medical tests, we talked about her pain. But I knew. My mom’s life is seriously threatened. And I don’t know. What will the doctors say next week when the test have been completed? The options clatter in my mind in an endless cycle.
I am left with no other choice than to once more in my life take my Mother’s lead: I pray and I turn to faith and I remain positive.
I ponder on the moments with my Mom which have shaped me, which have taught me, which have inspired me, which have given me the firm foundation to embark on adult life and beyond. I contemplate the moments which converge to create my view of my Mom’s life thus far. I have been given the gift of 32 years of moments with an incredible Mother and nothing can take away those moments.
The most profound image I have of my Mom comes from my high school years. Each morning as I would go downstairs to finish getting ready for school I would find my Mom on our living room couch either reading the Bible or deep in prayer. Her habit of daily moments with God showed me her character of diligence and reflected her unwavering faith. Three years ago I succinctly described the faith of each of my immediate ancestors. For my Mother the adjective I chose for her faith was “devout”: deep commitment. I still remember the day I officially asked Jesus into my heart. I was a very young child in my parents’ bedroom; the vacuum lay beside the bed, and in an ordinary but life-changing moment, my Mother guided me in a prayer asking God for the gift of salvation. Years later when I was in Grade 6 or 7 I recall walking home from school with a couple of friends. It was blistering cold and my Mom was driving by so she gave us a lift saving us a couple blocks of facing the wind chills. My friend commented that my Mom was a “saviour”. My mom quickly and naturally replied that there is only one Saviour. This is how my Mom lives her life. It has been a great gift to have been raised by godly parents who have taught me to love God as part of the natural rhythm of my life.
Another moment which I have been reflecting on highlights Mom’s wisdom in understanding what I call the humanity of others. I always get the sense that my Mom ‘knows’ people. Like she really knows exactly what they need and therefore she knows what to do for or say to others. There are no games, there is no delay, and there is always genuine care. This wisdom is a gift of my mother’s that I hope to learn more of because it has a way of meeting people in the exact moment they are in.
It is my Mom who initiated my relationship with Mrs. Peters when I was in high school. In fact, my Mom has had the greatest role in fostering my compassion for seniors. Mrs. Peters called my Mom when she was volunteer coordinator. Mrs. Peters was blind, but had written a memoir which had been typed and she wanted a middle-aged woman to reread it to her. My mom suggested me instead and my Monday nights for the rest of my high school years became time spent with Mrs. Peters. (Mrs. Peters’ impact on my life is a whole other piece on its own.) I recall this beautiful moment one Monday when Mom picked me up from Mrs. Peters’. Mrs. Peters had just that week received the devastating news that her grandson had passed away. As a teenager I found myself uncertain how to handle this loss in the life of a person special to me. My mother, as she heard the news that evening, demonstrated with genuine compassion how to love people in moments such as these. In that moment Mom said, “Oh Nettie, I am so sorry.” and she stretched out her arms to Mrs. Peters and embraced her. It was so simple and yet this was a pivotal moment as I watched two women whom I both respected and loved share genuine care despite a lack of mutual history. Looking back this is a shaping moment in me learning how to show compassion and in experiencing how deeply my mom cares for others.
In these days as I have palpably felt what it is to be my mother’s daughter, I view my moments being mother to my daughter with a new clarity. In 30 years I want to be a woman who has spent faith-filled, inspiring, teaching and joy-filled moments with my daughter that will be captured forever in both our memories and go forward into next generations. Indeed, I look back to my mom’s mom. I loved my Grandma and respected her; my most prominent memory of her is her standing in the congregation on my baptism declaring that “God will never leave me nor forsake me.” My mom was shaped by her mother. I am shaped by mine. Physically, I see Mom in my hands and in my face (though Mom, that’s the stern, focused, show every ounce of concentration and thought on your face – which I am still determining if it is a good thing). Furthermore, I have been taught to work hard particularly in academics including achieving “Highest honor” in Pioneer Clubs at church with the help of my Mom. I have been shown to value hobbies through the many crafts Mom did with us growing up. Mom demonstrated the value of being involved in the church through organizing Vacation Bible School, billeting visitors, participating in classes and teaching in Pioneer Clubs. I have been shown to be involved in people’s lives whether that be immediate family, extended family members or the new Canadian who need to learn how to drive. I have always felt that I could achieve whatever I set my mind and energy to. I have always felt loved. My Mom only says what she means and so her words may be fewer than others. So, when Mom told me a few years back that she felt I had figured out life well at a very young age, I appreciated the words and draw on them when I feel unravelled. And when Mom told me last week that she is thankful she educated me, as in becoming a pharmacist, so I can help her manage her pain (though to be specific Mom and Dad really only paid for my first degree and Ryan paid for my second) I felt proud to be there for her. Indeed I will always be thankful for all these gifts my mom has given me.
There are also many small things that I appreciate about my Mom: The money that came in the mail the first December my sister and I lived in Saskatoon going to school, so that we could buy Christmas oranges. The Easter decals that came in the mail a couple years ago. The homemade Christmas decoration angels that arrived one of the first years Ryan and I were married. The care packages with extra candy and licorice that arrived when I was a camp counsellor. The small money gifts that Rayna is receiving already which I am banking in a piggy bank until she really knows what it means to want to shop. The practical gifts that my sister and I often get which indeed are very practical! The special pillowcases and duvet covers that Mom sewed for me when I was in Grade 8 which played a role in my (probably not very serious) decision not to run away. The non-important piece of newspaper clipping that came in the mail when we first moved to Chilliwack so Mom would be the first person to send us real mail here. These are a handful of the little things which characterize Mom.
An appropriate way to close this blog is to unveil some of the several adages Mom has; such as, “It will show up” when you lose something (though it doesn’t always) and “never back up further than you have to” when driving (advice I still follow) and “Be good”, the very general advice I received growing up nearly every time I left the house. I think of these now because I have felt in the last few days like I am so very far away from my Mom. The Kilometers feel like a barrier that the phone can only partially overcome. But, one of Mom’s newer adages is “better to have family that lives far away and you are in touch regularly with than to have family in your town that you never talk to.” I agree! Thank you Mom, for everything you continue to teach me and the moments we continue to have, even those only on the telephone. I love you.