Being grateful that I was merely able to be at the memorial on Saturday past, my own contribution was relatively short.
Mom was the single most significant influence in my life. She chose to give me life, even when many would have counselled a young, unwed pregnant teenager to do otherwise. That choice meant she would forego post-secondary education and a career for herself, instead raising a large family on a single household income.
Throughout my life, she consistently sacrificed her own future for that of her children. She offered advice when asked, and even when not asked. But whatever the issue, whether we chose wisely or not, she honoured and respected her children, never once suggesting that her sacrifices entitled her to veto our decisions. To this day, I am still amazed that she and Dad didn’t suggest that I wait a few more years to get married [M and I married when we were 20 and 19 respectively].
She saw some of us make mistakes. And she made her own mistakes. But love, family, respect, trust, faith and honour were always part of her unspoken and unwritten creed. She taught us to be honest with one another, to fight fairly, to admit our mistakes, and to struggle for what we believed was true and good and beautiful.
Mom and I disagreed on many issues, some of which were fundamental and some inconsequential. But whatever our disagreements, we both loved life and honoured the mother-son relationship. This meant that, as a mother, she suffered great sorrow when I was given a prognosis of a few weeks or months with terminal metastatic cancer. It meant that even during our last visit together in Kitchener, we argued with each other, and then hugged and cried and wished that life’s absurdities might be otherwise, never once suspecting she would pass away so unexpectedly.
Now it is I who suffer a deep sorrow. But it is a sorrow tempered with the knowledge that there was nothing left unsaid, nothing false in our relationships. My hope is that when my time comes to say farewell, I will follow her example of death with dignity and a life lived with no regrets.