There are a few certainties in this life. We’ll all pay taxes at some point and we may pay a bundle at that. Then just as surely as we came into this world, we will all pass from it as well.
I believe it’s what we do between the goal posts of life and death that matters.
When my mother passed away she had lived in relative seclusion up in Fort MacMurray, a northern oil town in Alberta. For the last ten years of her life she had no phone and contact was made through the writing of letters. This was sporadic at best.
Mom had a lived a hard life. It had been filled with heartache and abuse which ultimately led to mental illness. She was just 69 years old when she died.
I’m now 57 years of age so I’m around the age when she packed up from Edmonton, Alberta and headed north.
I gave Edmonton a try for three years. I also gave birth to my daughter there. In the early 1980’s Edmonton didn’t really have a lot to offer and besides, it was too damn cold! I returned to Vancouver, BC my birthplace and keeper of my heart.
Mom had moved to Edmonton in the late 1970’s after her marriage fell apart.
I won’t get into that kerfuffle as it was complicated.
I went out to Edmonton later to try and reconnect with her…at least that was my initial goal.
I was something of a basket case myself back in the day.
In any case, after I left Alberta and returned to BC with my child, mom packed up and headed north. It was a move I could not comprehend at that time and it would take many years after her death for the full realization and comprehension to come to light. Sadly it was during the preparations for her ‘funeral’ that many things became glaringly apparent.
And one thing I began to consider was my own morality.
“How do you want to be remembered?” I asked myself one day.
It’s an odd question in a way but it also speaks to the footprint you choose to leave behind.
Mom had been raised Lutheran so we found a church that followed this faith. I sat with the good Pastor discussing the memorial and he asked me several questions designed to assist him in preparing a personalized eulogy for her. The questions were the type that I should have known the answers to. Sadly, many of them I could not answer.
When I left that day it was with the knowledge that I really didn’t know too much about this woman who had given me life.
Photographs from her youth show a vivacious and spirited beauty. This was beaten out of her before I had reached my 10th birthday.
How is it that I happened on this train of thought?
Friday evening found me Christmas shopping. I picked up a few goodies to drop off at BC Childrens Hospital as well picking up gifts for those that I love and adore.
By 7:30 PM I was done and stopped in at Boston Pizza for a nibble and decided to peruse the local paper. I used to read the paper daily over breakfast.
Life changed a bit and so did I. I began rising early and going for a run in the morning. The newspaper subscription was adjusted to weekends only.
Then weekends began to fill up with social events and workshops so I cancelled it altogether. Indeed, news comes in so many forms these days.
What I used to enjoy with physical newspapers though is the various reporters and their take on current events. I would look forward to a certain journalist’s angle on a story.
And you know, it seemed back when I read the paper daily, life was a little slower then.
Now we are bombarded by news and various media throughout the day. Something happens and within ten minutes its being reported online.
Back when I did read the paper all those years ago on a daily basis I had gotten into the habit of reading the obituary columns as well. It’s an odd thing that many of us do.
On Friday evening as I finished my meal I found myself once again glancing through the Obits. They’ve changed over the years as well. A photo almost always accompanies the write up and now you can pretty much figure out who has a lot of money to spend and who doesn’t. Some of the obits take up a 1/4 page. That is expensive, I have no doubt.
And as I considered this I was struck by the sad realization the even in death we equate someone’s monetary stature with the size of the obituary notice.
A strange sensation then rushed over me. The conversation with the pastor back in 1998, taking mom’s ashes up to a local bar with my sister for ‘one last beer’, the cost of the obituary that was quoted and realizing that the initial message was too expensive at that time. And all the unanswered questions of who she really was.
I gazed out the window and watched the traffic move by. I thought about what I’d want people to say about me and how that would look in print. I wouldn’t want a lengthy column espousing how fabulous and great I was. I’m not extraordinary though I’ve met people and have experienced things that have remind me of how fortunate I have been.
I’m just a woman who discovered she had a choice and am exercising this in the most positive manner I know and that is through love and forgiveness.
I’m a pretty simple gal so I would want to keep simple and this is what I came up with:
February 22, 1958 to_______________________________
She loved and was loved.
Continue her legacy and make it your own. Just love.
Says it all.