Sunday, May 11, 2008


I still miss her. Every day.

She was a small woman. And I think she looked old as long as I could remember. Face and hands etched by a hard life; a life hard, it seemed, before it had much chance to be soft. I didn't know that, then, back when I was a kid. The idea that she could even had a life outside my perimeter of existence was an alien idea.

She may have been small but she was a strong woman. Certainly, physically strong. I have a memory of picking up a refrigerator and moving it by herself. That memory may be flawed but there was not doubt she was strong in that way; people with that kind of life, that kind of past, develop personal strength.

She was strong in other ways. The kind of strength I never appreciated as a kid but came to respect as an adult; I admire it to this day. Strength of commitment. Not readily apparent but she must of had that. To raise eight children by yourself, to deny yourself companionship and freedom, that is strength of commitment. Strength of individuality; hell yeah, she had that in spades. Everyone in my home town knew the weird little woman with the dark glasses and the big hat and the flags and the red outfits. Drink a bottle of beer in a cup ... I mean, take a bottle of beer and place it in a cup and drink from the bottle ... tell me that isn't weird. Read a newspaper cover to cover everyday even with a grade 4 education and perhaps dyslexia ... she was strong.

Strength to be yourself. I struggle with that myself, sometimes. When I look back at the times I have been least happy with myself, it was when I was trying to be something and someone I was not; even when for perfectly viable reasons, like career and or to please somebody else, I am never happy when denying whatever it is that I am. I look back at her, with all her superstitions and bizarre speech patterns (she could never pronounce peoples' names, she called Collette "Clodette" the whole time she knew her) and odd clothing choices and I see her smile and say Fuck it, if she could be happy with herself so can I. She gave that to me. I thank her for it every day.

Perhaps it was her sense of individuality that gave me what creativity I have. She supported that even when she could never really understand it. She always supported my writing though I doubt she "got" much of it; but she was proud of me and knew that it made me happy. I don't think she got the video thing either but, again, she supported me wholly, right or wrong. When my first student video won an award, at the gala that evening (we both sported our sunglasses all night long) they came to collect the big trophy to put in a case; my mother almost clocked the poor girl saying "Hey, that's my son's" with that small, powerful fist balled up. That was strength too; crazy strength perhaps but that's the kind I love the most.

I think of myself as a storyteller and Ma was certainly that. She would tell her life story to total strangers, all in one go, meandering and wandering and including famous people in it somehow. I used to think that Ma's stories were incoherent but now I would like to think of them as surreal .. or magic realism, or something. She taught me this: You don't really need a linear plot to have a good story.

She also taught me to love music, movies, chicken fried rice and my family.

So here is a little Mothers Day video of Ma, cobbled together from some old pics and videos. Its silly, out of date, non linear and doesn't make any sense at all. I think its fitting

But this post is a Tale of Two Mothers. The other one was small too. And twinkly and Irish and mischievous. And she had hidden strength as well. Strength to leave her home and her family and travel to strange new lands to support the man she loved. Strength to work her fanny off, raise her kids and .. later in life .. speak her mind in a frank and sometimes brutally obvious fashion. Collette's mother Marg passed away just this year. Here is the slide show I created for her memorial.

We both miss our mothers every day. We miss their laughter and their strength and their commitment and their goofiness. I hope they are together someplace. And know that we think about them, even when it isn't Mothers Day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Both our Moms were very spelcial people and I truly believe that the saying "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother" is very true for both of our moms look down on us I know that they know we loved them (and still do!) they will always be an important part of our lives and who we are!

Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites