Peter – I Remember Mama

Although it was 21 years ago, almost to the minute, I remember it like it was yesterday. While checking my home phone messages from my workplace, I found out that my mother had passed away. I was stunned. Eventually I stood up and went to my supervisor’s desk. I told him that my mother had passed. He was rather dismissive about it, he didn’t particularly like me. In a daze, I returned to my desk and tried to work. Shortly thereafter, the manager came to my desk and gently told me to go home. He was very sympathetic and kind, and was a glimmer of compassion in an otherwise horrible day.

My purposes in writing about this are twofold, Loyal Reader. Primarily I want to share some memories of my beautiful Mum. However, I also want to underscore the fact that Time is fleeting, and I feel that it is absolutely necessary to savour every moment, every memory, because it won’t be long at all before Today will be years in the past.

Mum was a beautiful woman, not only physically, but emotionally. I can honestly say that I never heard a negative word about her. She and my Dad successfully raised 8 children, in a 3 bedroom bungalow with 1 bathroom.

She was a quietly supportive woman, who exemplified the importance of service and instilled the qualities of kindness and empathy in me, by her personal example. Little did I know how important these assets would prove to be to me during my career as an Employment & Insurance Officer, when I often had to assist people who were in shock and afraid, because they had become unemployed. She helped me understand their feelings and treat them with dignity and respect.

When you are a kid, you generally lack the experience, knowledge and perspective to really appreciate the hard work that others do to assist you with any possibility of success in Life. I am certain that Mum must often have felt like she had unleashed her own horde of “flying monkeys” as 6 of us headed out the door in the morning to get educated at “The Barnyard” a).  She would undoubtedly then make a cup of tea, sit down, RELAX, and listen to CFOR, the Orillia radio station, popular with everyone’s mother. When we returned home for lunch, there would be a nutritious meal waiting for us, and, more importantly, a sympathetic ear willing to listen to our problems, both real and imaginary. Our “pit stop” finished, we would return to the “drudgery ” of an afternoon at school, while Mum celebrated her freedom by first doing the dishes, then doing the laundry. And don’t forget that at some point she would have to start getting dinner ready. Other days she might vary her routine by taking a taxi to do the grocery shopping….for 8 people.

At one point, she had three teenage boys to feed, not to mention the rest of the family. Not an easy task, if you sit and think about it. There was a time when the unofficial motto of our house was “Teenage Angst Lives Here”. I am sure that many other people looked at her with a horrified sense of fascination.

She was very happy with her lot in Life, had a number of childhood friends, dealt with the numerous crises that only a parent of 8 children had, and did it all with a grace which still gives me pause.

She had a good sense of humour, which she rarely displayed, but was memorable. For example, once, after one of our pets had died, Mum decreed that there would be no more pets. So naturally, one of us snuck a kitten into the house, and kept it in their room. We all waited for the right moment to introduce Mum to the newest family member. Mum and I were talking outside the room, and the kitten started to “meow”. Hearing this, I raised my voice, in an attempt to delay the moment of discovery. Mum looked at me and calmly told me that I was “scaring the kitten”. The kitten, named “Monty”, became a much loved member of our household. Several years later I experienced Mum’s intense disappointment when I gave the poor cat some beer in a (clean) ashtray. I think she was more upset about Monty than the fact that I gave some beer to my two brothers.

I still cringe in a gentle way when I remember her telling my fiancee that I had never given her and Dad any trouble. I smile thinking of her patient look as I showed her the things I had learned at prenatal class, as if this mother of 8 had done it all wrong.

She was never dismissive, never belittling in tone, even when we had “screwed up “. Believe me, we certainly gave her the opportunity, but she didn’t have a mean bone in her body. As I have said before, she and Dad stood back and let us learn from our mistakes. They would intervene, but only once you had exhausted all of your options.

When I was going through my rough patch, about a year ago, I decided to use Mum and Dad’s relationship as a template for my own future relationships. I blend a solid foundation of quiet support with the odd ostentatious display of affection. I have found that it works quite well.

So here we are, 21 years on. I still can’t believe that you are gone, Mum, but you are always here, and you always will be. I miss you every day, but I am honoured to have been your son.

So, Loyal Reader, revel in the moment, build up your bank of memories and never miss the opportunity to make a difference to someone.

See you soon

  1. a) St Bernard’s School, which has figured in previous columns of mine. The other 2 of her offspring were already out of the House seeking their fortunes.

4 Responses to “Peter – I Remember Mama”

  1. Damon Hines Says:

    Welcome back, Peter, lovely read: thanks for the memories. ❤

  2. Marlene Schuler Says:

    Warmed the cockles Peter!

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