Mother’s Day Memories

In 1990, I spent an eventful last Mother’s Day with my Mom. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. After developing complications after surgery, she had battled hard, but the cancer had spread beyond what doctors could do for her. My Dad, exhausted from caring for her at home, was reluctantly looking at placing her in palliative care. I flew home to Victoria from Calgary, and spent a week giving Dad some respite, by allowing him to rest in their guest room, while I slept in his bed next to my mother. I had to wake up three times a night to give her medications that helped control her pain. Oftentimes, it was difficult to fall back to sleep afterwards. Dad had warned me that she still had a habit of talking in her sleep. It was something my Dad used to tease her about. Usually it was unintelligible, but lately, in between her med “feedings” he would listen to her carry on conversations in Danish with her deceased mother. It was starting to creep him out.

My mother was determined to be lucid during my visit, something my Dad told me months later, so she had purposefully decreased some of her pain meds that left her groggy and at times unresponsive. My mother knew that the conversations we would have together that week were too important for both of us. I needed to share the Good News with her one last time, and she needed to reassure me that she understood and had made her “peace” with the Almighty.

On Mother’s Day, my Dad and I were surprised when Mom declared she wanted to go for a drive. She had not left her bed or the house in weeks, so seeing her on her feet and dressed for the day made my Dad almost giddy with joy. I helped her put on a bit of rouge to put some colour in her cheeks, and she carefully put on some red lipstick. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a delicate hanky my grandmother had given her, and folded the cloth between her lips, to leave a perfect imprint. My mother had chosen a new pant suit to wear for the outing. She loved her pant suit “uniforms” as she called them. This one was pale pinkish beige in colour. She had bought it after Christmas, perhaps hoping she would get to wear it to my brother’s upcoming wedding in June. Although we prayed she would be able to attend, she must have sensed that this Mother’s Day would be the one and only time she would wear the outfit.

My Dad dressed for the occasion too. Wearing a suit and tie, I caught the familiar scent of Old Spice as he held the door of his Oldsmobile Cutlass open for me to climb into the back seat, and gingerly helped Mom into the passenger seat.

“Where should we go?” he beamed.

“The Malahat Chalet!” Mom said without hesitation.

I suppose Dad and I should have thought about making reservations, after all it was Mother’s Day, and restaurants would have been booked weeks in advance, but it never crossed our minds. Dad put on his sunglasses, smiled brightly at Mom, and we made our way up island as if we had no cares in the world. The scenery was spectacular, the weather cooperating after days of wet drizzle. The cherry blossoms were raining pink snow on the ground. Mom seemed to drink in all the Spring flowers and colours as we sped by all the familiar landmarks we loved. Ascending the Malahat Drive, catching stunning views of the ocean through the trees, we reached the chalet and assisted Mom into the restaurant. As if planned, the waitress led us to the best table on the outside deck with the best view of the ocean. Hummingbirds buzzed around the red feeders, captivating my mother by their dive bombing antics. I don’t remember our meal, or our light conversation. I remember vividly Dad’s expression of pure joy as he sat beside my mother. His eyebrows raised in mischievous merriment. My mother’s laughter as he cracked a joke. After lunch, Mom wanted to visit the gift shop next door. Dad was more than willing to indulge this unusual whim. I followed her as she chose a little doll that I was to take home to my six year old daughter, her only grandchild. It was a late birthday gift she said, but her eyes glistened with unshed tears. I found three stained glass hummingbirds and she encouraged me to get them, one each for my husband, daughter and me, to remember this precious Mother’s Day that I couldn’t celebrate with them, but instead was able to share with my Mom.

The ride home was quiet. The day’s activity had taken a lot out of my Mom. She apologized that she felt extremely weary and retired to bed almost immediately. Dad and I sat quietly together, each in our own thoughts. I turned on the T.V. just for the noise, until I heard my Dad’s soft breathing as he slept peacefully in his lounge chair. I let him sleep, and went to bed early, knowing that I would be awakened again by the alarm for Mom’s med feeding at midnight. I awoke instead to her chatting pleasantly with someone in Danish. In the dark, I lay intently listening to the one-sided conversation. I understood many of the words, and pictured her having coffee in a garden with the buzz of hummingbirds all around. She giggled and said, “Mor” as she offered her mother “dansk wienerbrod” (Danish pastry). It was obvious they were enjoying one another’s company. I was sorry to interrupt them to wake Mom up to give her pain pills.

I returned home to Calgary a day later. I knew Dad would have to take on his responsibility again as Mom’s primary caregiver. I prayed he would have the strength, endurance and fortitude to handle the next few months on his own. On June 19th, my brother got married in Calgary and Mom went into hospice in Victoria on the 20th.

On July 8th, Mom passed away.

I helped my Dad go through her things in the days following her death. He was too emotionally exhausted to handle it all on his own. Donating her pant suits to Goodwill, was hard enough, but I dissolved into tears when I reached into her purse and found the imprint of her lips on the hanky she used on Mother’s Day. I have kept that hanky all these many years. It is as though aIl the memories of that day, were sealed with a kiss!

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Guy and Me

I started following Guy Lafleur’s hockey career in his rookie year with the Montreal Canadiens in 1971. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Lafleur, the Canadiens, or even the sport of hockey then, but I caught on quickly thanks to “The Flower”.

Growing up in the small town of Sooke, B.C., on Vancouver Island, my two closest friends at the time were staunch Montreal Canadien fans. My Dad was all about supporting the Toronto Maple Leafs, so being a bit of a rebel, I aligned myself with the team considered to be the biggest rival to the Leafs, just so I could tick off my Dad. (My son reminded me that what goes around comes around when in his teen years he became an Edmonton Oilers fan and rebelliously cheered against my new alliance with the Calgary Flames).

But I digress…

In my teen years, when other girls were swooning over Donnie Osmond, and the Jackson Five, I hoarded “Hockey Digest” magazines and clipped out pictures of my hockey hero to tape to my bedroom wall. I began memorizing his stats, counting down his goals and assists, and marking each milestone goal with a giggly celebration with my girlfriends at school the next day. The Canadiens were a dynasty in the 70’s with Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, and Henri Richard (the Pocket Rocket), to name a few of my favourite players on the team. Still, my sole, heartfelt obsession was with Guy Lafleur. I wore #10 on jerseys in tribute to him. I wasn’t a great athlete, but wearing his number made me try hard. My friends, and even a few teachers started to call me “Guy” as a nickname, knowing I was Lafleur’s greatest fan. My friend Tanya, wrote in my birthday card when I turned sixteen:

“Just think that if you were
As good as Guy Lafleur
I’d never see you at all,
Because you’d be in Montreal!”

All through high school, and into my university years, I continued to follow my hockey hero’s rise to super stardom. He was a powerhouse helping the Canadiens win four straight Stanley Cup Championships 1976 to 1979. He won MVP in 1977. As heroes go, he was simply the best!

In 1979, I married and moved to Calgary with my husband. Knowing I carried a fandom torch for Lafleur, my husband liked to tease me and align himself with any team that played against the Canadiens just to get a reaction from me. (Competitiveness is obviously strong in our family!) In 1985, when Lafleur retired from the Canadiens, I wrote a letter to the Calgary Herald newspaper thanking the hockey icon for his game play over those many years. It was published and I had the privilege of handing that letter to him in person when he played in an Oldtimer Exhibition game in Calgary in 1990. I felt like a giddy teenager when I asked him for an autograph and had my picture taken with him.

Guy and Me

I will admit when Lafleur came out of retirement to play a few seasons more with the New York Rangers and the Quebec Nordiques from 1988 – 1991, I was a little disappointed. I did not care to see Lafleur in any other team jersey other than a Habs one. Without Lafleur on the Canadiens roster, my team alliance reluctantly shifted to the Calgary Flames. The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and the Flames winning the Stanley Cup that 1988-1989 year had won me over to start supporting the home town team.

Today, like the rest of hockey fans across Canada, I am profoundly saddened to hear of the passing of Guy Lafleur. He was my first and last sports hero. Of all the hockey legends, past, present, and future, to me he will always be the greatest. I pray he came to know and love the Lord at some point in his stellar life, so he’s reaping rewards in heaven now.

Let me add my tribute and last cheer: “ Guy! Guy! Guy!” Rest in peace!

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Don’t Blink

Don’t blink…

My daughter-in-love posted a picture on Facebook of her three boys straddling a fallen tree branch. Dressed for the chilly spring weather, beaming with joy, my little grandsons exude energy and mischievousness. Her comment: “Three little ants on a log! 🪵 🐜. When Paxton was just under two, he used to ask for this commonly known snack. He called the PB (peanut butter) on celery with chocolate chips – “yakka yakka yog yog” 🤭 Now he teaches me that queen ants shed their wings when they build a new nest. Don’t blink!!”

Don’t blink! A statement that so profoundly describes how time marches past us so fast we might miss something awe-inspiring “in the blink of an eye”. Our priority, especially as parents, is to savour each moment, hold on to each memory, cherish each day with our children, and grandchildren. They grow up so quickly! They are babies one day, teenagers the next, and then adults with their own babies!

Don’t blink!

Ephesians 5:15-16 says Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Colossians 4:5 also talks about redeeming time. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” To redeem something means to buy it back, or regain possession of it. It is important to note that “time” is a precious gift from God. We are not guaranteed a certain amount of time. Our days are indeed numbered, and only God knows how many days we have to live here on earth. The idea Apostle Paul wants to emphasize in these passages is that we are to make the most of every opportunity to live life now ensuring that we have a strong focus on eternity. We are to make wise choices, do good, impact lives with the Gospel; time is precious so make the most of it!

After two cancer battles, I know only too well that life is finite. Life is fragile, and circumstances can change your outlook on life in an instant. I have a palpable sense of my “winding down” as I age. I admit I feel the tolls of time on my physical body. I get tired quicker. Brain fog is a bit more common. I know my limitations and I’m not as keen to push those boundaries to the edge. I am more cautious. My husband may be in denial entering this season, but I am okay with ordering meals that are “senior-sized”, or asking for senior discounts. I don’t try to act any younger or older than my age. I enjoy this stage of life. It is precious. I don’t feel compelled to “strive” as I did as a young adult for all the things the world offers like fame or fortune. I am content. God has blessed me abundantly. I don’t need more. I do, however, want to thrive in this season of life. I am not done growing in the “knowledge and admonition” of the Lord. Being in the Word daily, praying for His Will to be done in my life and others has taken on new priority. I pray for good health, and ask for opportunities to serve Him in these “senior years” for as long as I am able. I may be winding down, but I’m definitely not done! Don’t blink…I still have time to make a difference for the Kingdom.

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