Last Sunday would have been mom's 77th birthday, and it was our first Mother's Day without her. To say I miss her feels absurd... it's so woefully inadequate. I'm not ready to reopen the wound and write again, but I thought I could share my tribute from her service.
If you knew mom, or if you even met her - actually I feel like meeting her and knowing her were one and the same to be honest - she wasn’t a particularly private person… But if you knew anything at all about her you knew she loved people. Like really, really loved people. She loved the people she knew, her family, her church people, her cancer group, the person in line in front of her at the grocery store, you.
Mom would talk to people everywhere and would never pass up a chance to chat. She just loved hearing people’s stories, and if she couldn’t, she would just make them up. I remember as kids we would give her a hard time as she would not only people-watch, but speculate about the stranger’s life and some of these stories were pretty elaborate. We would roll our eyes and groan, but looking back, I think it’s a beautiful thing - maybe not so much the speculating, but how mom always made sure to see people when most of us don’t. She knew everyone has a story and she cared about every single one.
Being seen and telling ‘stories’ was really a big part of who mom was. What made her her. She had an insatiable curiosity AND a strong desire to share her own story. Her constant quest to connect to others, to see the humanity in all, the threads that connect us to each other and to our creator was a beautiful thing. She was a woman who spent her life hosting and loving and giving and feeling and always, always, ALWAYS pointing others to the goodness of her God, the one she loved with all her heart and whose love she seemed to not just believe but actually FEEL.
So what was her story? What is her legacy, what has she left behind?
I look around the room and I think the answer is pretty obvious - it’s in all of you, everyone here, everyone watching out there, really everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. Her legacy is how she touched the lives of so many, simply because her heart was so big and her compassion so endless. We made a kudoboard for mom when she was in hospice, a place where you could write her a message and tell her what she meant to you. The responses just poured in. From friends here in BC, old colleagues in Calgary, from our childhood friends, even from people whom she had never directly met. This was the kind of impact she had. Even in my old yearbook from CBC there are several comments referencing mom. My mom - in my yearbook. This is what I’m talking about.
Her story will live on in all of you, her family, her brothers and sisters in law, uncles, aunts, cousins and more. You are the lucky ones who knew her and were loved and cherished by her her entire life. She loved you every single day of her 76 years and counted herself blessed beyond measure to call you her family. You were everything to her.
Her legacy lives on in my dad. That man right there, to whom she was married for more than 54 years. In many ways her polar opposite, but together a remarkable team. Her love and devotion and her very tender heart has undoubtedly and indelibly changed him. They balanced each other, challenged each other and found their way through life together, raising three kids with love and grace and leaning into their roles as grandparents in ways that brought out the absolute best in them both.
Mom’s legacy lives on, in various forms, through my sisters and me. We might not bake like she did, or cry quite as easily (questionable), but I know when I look at my sisters I see so much of her beautiful and pure heart: her generosity, thoughtfulness and endless compassion.
I look at those 9 faces there, those beautiful faces whom she loved more than I could ever say, in ways that were so specific, thoughtful and personal to each of them. And I know that without a doubt her story lives on through each of those precious grandchildren. If they inherit a fraction of her tender heart, sharp intellect or zest for life the world will be a better place. They are quite literally her living legacy and the ones whose losses grieve me the most, the ones who lost their Mormor. They were the very luckiest kids alive to have her and I would have done just about anything to keep their Mormor in their lives if I could have.
I know it’s the easy way out to use words that aren’t my own, but I remember thinking years ago, when mom was still alive and well, that Nichole Nordeman’s song ‘Legacy’ could have been written about her. In it she says, “I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me, did I choose to love, did I point to you enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering. A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically. I want to leave that kind of legacy.”
And that’s exactly what mom did.
One of her last days in hospice, when speaking was becoming difficult, mom made a point of telling me she was concerned about me not having her around anymore, no longer having my love for her reciprocated. I assured her I am fortunate enough to be well-loved by so many, and more to the point, the love she spent a lifetime giving will not simply disappear.
I don’t know if I will ever accept that she’s gone. I’m not sure I can. And maybe that’s OK, because then maybe she never really will be - not when she’s left all this love behind.