Celebrating Mom

My mother, Dolores, would have been 67 today. She died after a horrible battle with pancreatic cancer, early on Christmas morning in 2010. I debated as to weather I would write this tribute post to her on the anniversary of her death, or today on her birthday. It didn’t take me long to decide. Today is all about her birth – and her life.

She had just turned 21 the day after I was born (my birthday was yesterday). It would have been an honor to share a birthday with her, but Mom didn’t like to share much. I remember when I was growing up that she loved to fry up canned mushrooms in butter, but she never shared them. That was HER luxury to herself. And she loved cheese. Homemade stove-top mac & cheese with canned tomatoes was a favorite of hers. She would painstakenly grate a huge block of cheddar cheese that then sat on a plate on the counter until the noodles were cooked. I knew I was taking my life into my hands whenever I’d sneak a pinch of grated cheese and stuff it into my cheeks behind her back. It’s funny now that I too, as a mother, forbid my family from stealing cheese off the plate when I make the same dish.

Mom was a slim, petite, attractive young woman when I was a young girl. She had this shimmery, silver halter-style formal dress she wore out now and then, topped off by her clear acrylic, silver strappy high-heels (they reminded me of adult glass slippers). I would watch her get ready in her bedroom and would wish that one day I would grow up to be as pretty as my mother.

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Until she shattered a knee-cap later in life, Mom lived in high heels. I would always make fun of the shape of her feet that naturally took on the shape of high heels. I’d often try to bend them into a straight position. She’s squeal in pain and slap me on the head. “That hurts, Kelly!” and we would both crack up laughing.

Mom hated rodents, especially rats. Anything of the rodent family was a big, fat “rat” to her, including a pet hamster I had when I was 16 years old. I lied to her in order to even have the hamster in the house, saying it was a school science project. I convinced her it was only temporary, so I didn’t bother with asking to buy an appropriate cage and thought a cardbord box would suffice until she got used to having it in the house. I ended up in hospital for a week one time. I got a phone call from Mom while still in hospital and to say she was in a panic is an understatement: “KELLY! THE DAMN RAT GOT OUT AND IT’S RUNNING AROUND THE HOUSE!”. “Well, find something to capture it, Mom, and put it back in the box. Please!” “I’M NOT GONNA TOUCH THAT FU@%ING THING! I’M STANDING ON THE COUCH AND I’M NOT GETTING DOWN UNTIL I KNOW THAT THING IS DEAD!” Needless to say, I never seen the hamster again.

She wasn’t fond of cats, either, and apparently hated fleas even more. When I was 8, my first real pet was a cat named Sunshine. Sunshine managed to pick up fleas. Mom was bitten one too many times and convinced me that we were taking Sunshine to the vets for flea treatment. On the way, while I witnessed from the back seat, mom opened the door and tossed Sunshine out onto the sidewalk while we were stopped at a light. “Oops! Sunshine jumped out of my arms, Kelly”. I watched Sunshine dodge gingerly off into the sunset, on what I later realized was a Sunday afternoon (when the vets were closed).

Mom was far from perfect but she really did the best she could. Despite the trauma as a child, I can now look back fondly as an adult and laugh at how rediculous and silly she was. Just a few years before she died, Mom lived with me and my family. She smoked all of her life and would stand on our front covered stoop and have a cigarette. One day she came in from outside looking very puzzled and said to my husband and me, “The strangest thing is happening outside…It’s raining, but only on half of the walk-way!” I replied with, “I guess rain has to start and end somewhere”, knowing that the sprinkler was going on the front lawn. Brad and I still laugh at that one.

But the thing that still makes me smile when ever I drive past is this story: On our way to Calgary from Red Deer one day, we drove past a huge concrete structure on the side of the road. Mom said, “Kelly, what is that place?” “A grain silo,” I replied. “Hmmm”, she said.

One our way back to Red Deer we passed by once again. “Kelly. Are you sure that’s an insane assylum?” I looked at her and nearly spit when I broke out in laughter so hard I almost pee’d myself. She actually heard “INSANE ASSYLUM”, when I said “GRAIN SILO”. She must have wondered for hours about all those crazy people locked down in that horrible concrete, windowless, building.

But that was Mom. She was incredibly funny and naive. Her family was her whole life. She adored her grandchildren, accepting and loving her step-grandchildren as blood. Children loved to be around her because Mom had a gift of letting go, having fun, and becoming a child herself when she was around young people.

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Her nieces and nephews cherished my mother, many times appreciating her more than I did. Hindsight is a gift sometimes. When she was living, I found too many occasions to criticize her, and not enough occasions to wrap my arms around her and tell her how much I loved and appreciated her. Oh to be able to do that now. All I can do, however, is write words to express how much I love and miss her and pray she understands that now.

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Happy birthday, Mom. XOXO

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Thoughts of a Canadian Mother – After the Attack

On Being Canadian This Week

This has been a bad week for Canadians.

First we heard of how a vehicle was turned into a weapon when, who we now know was a flagged radicalized Muslim, mowed down two Canadian soldiers, killing one.

Then just yesterday, we learned that another Canadian soldier was shot and killed while standing guard, ceremoniously unarmed, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before the killer,  another flagged radicalized Muslim, entered the Parliament building, shooting indiscriminately, until he himself was shot dead by the Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Kevin Michael Vickers, who is now being hailed as a true Canadian hero.

I have read commentary after commentary, most of which reflect the same sentiments – that Canada is bruised, but not beaten; that we will remain the land of the free and the home of the brave; that we all just need to calm down and keep things in perspective, and so on – all of which I mostly agree with…mostly.

I’m not going to mirror those thoughts here.

On Being a Canadian Mother

When my son was born in 1996, I thought “Well, if all the hype is correct about the Mayan Calendar, I should get a good 16 years of being a mother before the world comes to an end.” As you know, the scheduled apocolypse is late for some reason.

Throughout my tenure as mother and stepmother, there have been numerous reasons to be concerned (not necessarily worried) about the future of my children, and their children; global warming, environmental disasters, growing crime rates, drugs, mental illness, texting and driving, MRSA, the economy, our dependance on fossil fuels, over-population, the cost of tuition…well, you get the idea.

There is no doubt about it…since September 11, 2001, our world has changed. We still have all of the same old issues we have always had to deal with, but now…well, now…we have to consider the very real threat that Canadians are going to have to look over our shoulders every time we step out our doors to make sure there isn’t a home-grown Muslim militant hell-bent on carrying out a mandate to execute everyone who isn’t Muslim. That concerns me.

My husband and I both said today that we hope our boys, who are entering adulthood, and our young girl, seriously consider NOT having children. We both believe that the events of the last number of months, especially, have tipped the scales in our minds as parents; that this is not a safe country to raise children anymore. I know… very sad.

Final Thoughts

Of course, we know there are many reasons to believe that the world is still a beautiful place and that humans are fundamentally good, loving and kind. I see examples of that everyday. But our world is changing. It’s naive to say it isn’t going to change our country.

My fear is that our grandchildren will be forced to look and dress as Muslims just to protect themselves in public, or that they will become civilian militants themselves, handing out vigilante justice.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against moderate Muslims…it is a fundamentally  beautiful faith. And these beautiful people will be victims themselves, with their lives at risk, if these far-fetched events do happen. I have a problem with all faiths that practice radical, fanatical doctrine; I have personal experience with fanatical Christians who are taking drastic steps to survive when they will be hunted and persecuted in the future. That’s another blog post.

I’m not looking for a heated debate here; I have a right to express my personal concerns about all of this. I’m not spewing hatred, racism, or anti-Muslim anything. I am responding, as a mother, to the events that have just happened in my home, Canada.

I would like to know what your thoughts are as a mother…or a father? Am I being paranoid? Jumping the gun, so to speak? I’d love to hear your thoughts.