May 29, 2010 – somewhere in central Alberta, Canada
Wish you were here!
I’m sorry I’ve been such a bad on and off blogger this past year but I have been dealing with health issues that have overtaken my life and kept me from being the writer I want to be.
Even yet I am going to lose a good deal of time when I have both of my wrists operated on this coming summer.
Maybe I need a secretary. Any volunteers?
Enough of the excuses and back to the title of this post.
What I mean about it being that time of year again is not any ritual apology about being lazy – but it’s that time of year again for me to help my brother over at Otter Rafting Adventures.
I have been helping him out for over 20 years now and although it’s a ton of work – it’s also a whole lot of fun.
Here’s a clip of my brother Dave (The Otter) and Sam (our winter house guest) and friends.
This is NOT whitewater. It’s just the need of a pair of river gids (guides) to get out on the water – any water - (but the river we run of course) after a VERY LONG winter.
That need is in our blood. There’s simply no getting away from it (unless you’re me with a huge stack of health problems keeping you on the shore).
What my Mom has taught me:
To be a daughter
To be kind and gentle to someone who is old or sick
To be a mom
To be a wife
That grandparents are important
To be a friend
To love someone with all your heart
To change your mind (she hated hockey, but loved watching hockey for the Olympics)
She taught me to cook, to bake, to make baby food, to do my own canning.
She tried to teach me to be crafty, but that was never going to happen.
She taught me about loyalty
She taught me about having a strong work ethic
She always made me feel wanted and special. She never made me feel like I was less than my brother. Harry and I were always both wanted and equally loved.
She was always excited and happy to see each of us.
She taught me that life is not fair or easy.
I saw how her heart was broken when her husband and son died, and realize how much more she depended on me and my husband.
She taught me to do the right thing.
My mom had a lifetime of friendships. Some came into her life and were life-long friends, some were there for only a short time.
The stories she told of her friends and how she did cherish them.
There is nothing like the memories.
Her words could be sharp and she could be miserable. She wasn't perfect.
She told me once that she was the Matriarch of the family. I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.
She did have a kind and gentle heart, sometimes I had to 'dig' for it
for her to let it show. She says it was the Brydges way, to have a stiff upper lip and not show your soft side.
She was known as; Mrs Birch, Florence, Flo, Flossy or Grandma, but to me she was Mom, and I will miss her.
What I know for sure:
My mom loved clothes, and shopping. I think my brother and my husband once counted 60 pairs of slacks in her closet. One of the nurses at my mom's care home said she was one of the most elegantly dressed woman she ever saw.
She loved having Bonnie do her hair every week.
She loved perfume.
She loved the movie “Bridges of Madison County” and the
Sound of Music. (until 3 weeks before she died, as her roommate played the movie every day and every night) It was playing when she died.
My mom loved Chinese food and going to DelRio's every week for lunch.
She loved nuts and bolts, cheezies, A&W Onion Rings, tomato aspic salad, waffles with orange butter, and beets. Well, actually, she loved all food....
Maybe I should say what she didn't like:
Pasta, Yams, sweet potatoes, sushi (the story behind this, is when she turned 82 I took her out for Sushi for her birthday. I wanted her to 'try' something new. We asked the chef to give us a platter of all cooked food....he came out with a platter of RAW fish....which my husband had to eat and my Mom and I reordered Chicken Teryaki)
I'm not sure if her hearing aide counts as she ate that too!
My mom loved to go on picnics up the Highwood, to Banff and to Drumheller when she lived in Calgary. In Salmon Arm it was to Mable Lake, Harold Park, and out for country drives.
She loved animals and always had a pet. I wonder if the bat in her bedroom and the bears were part of the animals she loved.
She loved the cabin at the lake, and the house on the lake.
She loved going to Hawaii, to the Fountain of Youth and on cruises.
She loved going Salmon fishing to Port McNeil. She loved being out in the boat on the lake or the ocean with my dad.
She loved the traditional holidays of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. She loved the Christmas lights and tree, most of all she loved being with her family.
She loved celebrating her birthday.
My mom loved being a grandma, I know she wished that she could have seen her grandchildren more. She was always so proud to talk about Shelley, Chris, Brent, Blake, Kelsy, Aimee and Katie, and her great grandchildren, Jeremy, Joshua, Noah, Samantha and Tyrell were special to her. She wished she could have played more games with them and known them better.
My mom was a Christian and followed the Baptist religion her whole life and was loyal to her church and God.
My mom loved getting her hands dirty in soil, she loved working in the garden...how many times as a young girl did she scare me with worms, and I'm still petrified of them. She was a wonderful gardener.
My mom loved the signs of all the season's changing. The blossoms and new leaves on the trees in spring, to the smell of the fall air, to the first snow fall, to the heat of the summer.
She loved to swim in the lake, or the pool. There was nothing better than a hot summer day.
She loved to drive her car, which she did until she was 86 years old, claiming that she had never had an accident. She wasn't a great passenger though, as she was always gripping the door!
She loved to play Hide & Seek (in the house)...what fun we had and what a lot of screaming and laughing. My brother loved to scare the pants off her!
She loved her family, her brother's George, Earl and Norm and her sister Shirley.
She said she always missed her dad. She loved her nieces and nephews and her cousins. Family was history and that was important to her.
She loved skating when she was young, that was her first date with my dad.
A short time ago I posted The Going. At that time my Aunt had just passed away and my heart was aching for a woman I had loved for all of my life. However, I was unable to attend the memorial and my cousin sent me this eulogy that she had written for her mother.
She has given me permission to post it here and I am doing so to honour my Aunt and also my Cousin whose words touched my heart with a caress so that I would not be in so much pain over the loss of her mother.
MY MOM'S HANDS AND WHAT SHE MEANT TO ME
The journey that my mom's hands have had.
In her 91 years, I can only imagine how many lives she has touched in some way with her hands and her heart, and how weathered both were.
She didn't like her hands, she thought they were farm hands. She thought they were big and ugly....I never saw them as that instead this is what I thought of her hands:
I wonder when she was young:
How many white shirts she ironed
How many chores she did before she could go out to play with the boys in the street when she was growing up.
How many pies she made
How many pinwheels so sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on
How many pans of broken window glass she made
How many cookies she baked
How many potatoes she peeled for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter Dinner.
How many toques she knitted for the homeless (I think one year she made 50)
How many sock monkey's did she make
How many scarves, mitts, socks and shawls. Every stitch was so perfect.
How many quilts she made
How many afghans and how many lace table cloths.
How many times she held my hand as we skipped down the street, or played in the revolving doors at The Bay.
How much wood she chopped
How many times she set up a tent when she was camping
How many times she brushed Barney (our dog)
How many times she brushed my hair when I was young (then my husband took over).
How many weeds she pulled in the garden and how many flowers she planted.
How many books she read and then re-read. She loved to read.
I wonder: How many letters and Christmas cards she wrote to friends and family.
I wonder: How many little hands she held (I remember her trying to grab my hand when I was playing in the dress racks with my cousin).
I wonder: How many ‘once upon a time’ stories she told about little Jimmy and Harry.
I wonder: How many tears she shed and how many tears she wiped away off a loved one’s face.
I wonder: How many songs she sung and how many times she played the piano and organ.
I wonder: How she was so crafty. She loved to knit, crochet, paint, needlepoint, do lapidary (rocks), leatherwork, and frig towels.
I wonder: How many times she was stung by the bees in her beehives in Salmon Arm (or was that just my dad that got stung..she bought my dad a bee-suite so he could help her)
I wonder: How many games she won (and how often she cheated!) She did like to play Craps (or 10,000), spoons, Mexican train, Take 5, Skatt, Go Fish, Pit and so many more. Did you know she was pretty good at playing pool, bocchi ball, and
lawn bowling too?
I wonder: How many times she hugged us, or wished she had hugged us more.
End of Part One