Several days before my mom died, I read her this letter that spoke my words which I would like to share with you...
I always want to tell you exactly how I feel but when I see you face to face, I never seem to find the words. I thought that the best way to share how I feel is to write you a letter and then read it to you when we are face to face. First of all I wanted to tell you how much I love you. I know that my actions do not always show you love but please please forgive me. I really cannot tell you why I always become so impatient with you.
Secondly, I wanted to tell you what a wonderful mother you are and have been. You often have said that you regret not talking to us kids more but your actions proved love over and over again. Thanks for all the times you took me to Victoria Park, roller skating, ice skating and many many other places. As well as sending me to places in Toronto with the "Y" when you could not take me yourself.
Thank you for nurturing in me to be the person I am today because you gave me the freedom to be whomever God made me to be.
You never once stopped my church-going or the people that I hung out with. You only encouraged me to be whatever I wanted.
Thank you for sacrificing so much so we would have food on the table when food was scarce and always seeming to find money for a new outfit and shoes for the startup of school.
Thank you for being an example to me.
I grieve that you will not be with me for significant events that I have yet to come. Being married, having my own children and everything else that I cannot even imagine at this moment in time.
I know that I can't even imagine everything that you are going through. Please forgive me for my shortcomings. Please forgive me for not empathizing with you more. So often I get so caught up with my own plight and my desire for you to have very happy last days and also the thought of losing my mother at such a young age.
I am grateful that you came out to Calgary when you did and that we could live together and that you can see part of the world I am now in. Life has changed so much from when I was growing up in Kitchener. Don't ever think that you were a burden or that it was a mistake that you came out here to live with Dave and I. I am grateful and honoured to be a part of this life journey with you.
My mom was a very 'funny' lady and one of the simplest person's I know but what depth of character! Looking at my mom, she really had her own style! It would be a real shame to judge her by her outer shell...yes, she didn't have a huge wardrobe until I introduced her to Salvation Army and told her how many outfits I found working there.
And no, she never drove a car.
And no, she didn't have tons of friends!
But what an amazing person!
She found such joy in giving gifts. I think of her at Christmastime... She was more excited about giving gifts than we were to receive those gifts. And don't get me wrong, we were excited!
Her outlook on life was one of strength and courage. When my mom was losing her voice and had the opportunity to get a keyboard that would speak for her... she would say 'when it's gone (her voice), it's gone'. My mom had a life of doing 'without' but she grew stronger in that rather than wallowing in self pity!
My mom had a lot of struggles, maybe even more struggles than I could even imagine. One of the things my mom really struggled with was schizophrenia. And throughout her life, she never ever complained, only questioned what she could do to improve her situation. She also never ever compared herself with the Jones'. My mother always accepted us for our choices and respected those choices. She often longed for a group with people with schizophrenia in order to bring understanding to herself. My mom's life goal was to be able to "live with herself". And what a legacy! Accepting herself gave her respect for us to be ourselves. My mom loved us so deeply, that she gave us freedom to be the persons we wanted to become. She never held us back but gave us a great foundation to love and to live!
In September of 1999, my mom's speech changed and became more slurred. Her swallowing was also becoming more and more difficult. Soon after, her foot was harder to control. Specialist after specialist, test after test, was it a stroke? There seemed to be more questions than answers. An MRI, a muscle stimulation test, a swallowing test and so on and so forth. Until May 2000, we had an answer... ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease-a degenerative neuromuscular disorder. Devastating- 3-5 years. Muscle loss! But loss after loss, my mom continued to have an amazing attitude--a feeding tube into her stomach. She didn't like cooking anyways. Her speech, she didn't like talking either.
She was always such a sharp shooter, never beating around the bush and looking things straight on. It was only at easter this year, that my mom had had enough and I think that she knew deep down that the end was near. She was so fiercely independent, that she really didn't want to depend on her daughter but the nurse's at the hospital was okay! On May 12, 2001, all of my mom's suffering ended and she got the best Mother's Day gift - freedom from a disease ridden body and freedom from a failing body and a gift of a wonderful flawless body in a far better place...Heaven!