Twenty years ago today, my Mother died. Tomorrow is my birthday. I don’t mind sharing the day with her.
It’s not really a ‘full-circle’ kind of situation. I was adopted at birth.
She was a good women, kind, caring, honest, great sense of humour. I was very young when I realised I could make my Mother laugh. Hard. That, my friends, was a chestnut well polished.
Sometime around Christmas she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was living in Vancouver at the time and after a decent period of denile, I sublet my apartment to go be with her in Alberta.
It is the hardest and equally the greatest experience for me. She was frail and had lost a considerable amount of weight. She was using a walker and my Father had attached a small loaf pan to the front of it like a basket on a bike for her to be able to carry things and not let go of the handles. I thought it was adorable.
People die the way they lived. So, after a short period of ‘why me’, she set about getting her affairs in order. She began by teaching my Father a thing or two. How to cook, do laundry, run a vacuum. While sitting at the kitchen table playing Scrabble, my Dad was doing laundry. He was going down the basement stairs and grumbled something like, “Oh, for fuck’s sake”. My Mother replied, “Hey! Watch the language, you know I don’t go for that kind of shit”. She then looked at me with mischief in her eyes and had a hearty laugh at her joke. I remember her shoulders shaking. My Father mumbled, ‘I know,’ and continued on.
The day after she died, my birthday, my Dad came from the basement with my Mother’s old red and white cake tin. As soon as I saw it, I started to cry. He put it on the counter and said, ‘She insisted’. When I lifted the lid, there was a gorgeous Angel’s Food cake. Half of it was iced, the other half plain for my Dad, who was diabetic.
Later, when I was looking in the freezer downstairs, there were all kinds of frozen packages. Meatloaf, casseroles, lasagna, labels written on masking tape on them with my Mother’s handwriting. ‘Turkey Stew’. ‘Veggie lasagna for Jo-Jo’.
Even in her last days she was thinking of others.