The Good Mothers

Image in the public domain and therefore no attribution required

Thanks and gratitude to my biological mother, Irene, who singlehandedly, when it came to all the work of raising children, (two sets of twins and one single), and the work around the house, did it all because she was of that generation. It’s exhausting just trying to imagine how she fed us, clothed us, socialized us and put up with her five children of such varying ages on a daily basis.

To my eldest sister, Heather, who died in 1991, and whose warmth to a younger sister, 13 years younger, was communicated to me in the way she’d stroke the top of my head sometimes when I entered a room. She did quite a few mom things that my mother didn’t such as choosing the most dainty, pearl stud earrings when she took me to get my ears pierced at 13 and taking me “downtown” on a special shopping/lunch outing when I was seven and she was 20.

To my best friend’s mother, Toni (Tomoko),  when I was growing up who felt in some ways like a second mother and who exposed me to Japanese-Canadian culture and made me aware of, interested in, and respectful  of the experience of  “the other” and to help me recognize that quiet strength in adversity builds even greater strength.

To women who have felt to me like my emotional mothers. My friend Anne who has always treated me like a queen, even bringing me tea in bed while staying at one of her many beautiful abodes over the years (and to her husband, Bob, who  is our sommelier and cook during my visits).

To Pauline on Salt Spring, who has the mothering qualities of providing a listening ear, culinary prowess, and humour that can always lighten me when I’m feeling bereft.

To Marjorie, also on Salt Spring, who for 18 months let me occupy the cabin that her grandfather built more than 40 years ago helping me fulfill a dream of living in a cabin near the ocean, and who was always a comfort on sunny afternoons during conversations in her back solarium, her cat Duchess never far away.  

To my former psychiatrist, Leila, who tried through example to help me to mother myself and how showing acceptance can come through something as simple as a beautiful smile from one human being to another.

To all the women I have met in my life, become friends with, and those who I am still friends with because women have been the foremost characters in my life, each sharing their unique qualities of caring, then and now.

And to even a few men, who were loving examples of how familial titles aren’t really relevant when it comes to being able to show loving kindness towards another and letting them know that they’re very special.

Serendipity and Speaking of Mothers

I’m a huge proponent of paying attention to serendipitous events when the little tinker bells get set off. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Much of  Sunday and Monday of this past long weekend saw me deep into a story that I’ve been working on about my mother.  I was re-writing it trying to add more depth, pulling seams that might unravel buried moments in time.

Now pay attention. Here’s where serendipity comes in. A few days ago, I noticed an event that was happening at River Market that had something to do with storytelling and healing. There was a workshop component. It said that it was a fundraiser for the businesses that were lost to the recent Columbia Street fire.

Four women were presenting. First up. The founder of Royal City Writers who is the speechwriter for the president of UBC. Next? A doctor who is an actor and a film maker. Then, an actor/writer/producer and the founder of something called the Mothership Stories Society who happens to be a New Westminster resident. And last, Elee Kraljee Gardiner, host of Thursday’s Writing Collective in the Downtown Eastside, and a woman who must have huge amounts of energy given all that she’s involved in.

When Marilyn Norry, the founder of Mothership Stories Society got up on stage to speak,  I couldn’t believe it. Everything she was speaking about was relevant to what I’d just spent the past three days focused on. I realized that she’s the one who developed the idea that grew into two books and a play that I’d seen in North Vancouver last year at Presentation House; a play that had eight actors performing stories written by women who were telling their mothers’ stories. Serendipity with a capital S!

gordandIasbabies(Of course I’m the redhead on the right)

When it came time for the breakout groups, I sat in on hers. Three other women were in the group. I kept thinking that I had met one of the other women before but couldn’t place where that might be. Don’t ya just hate that?

Turns out she’s a scriptwriter for television. So, okay, there’s no way I would have met her related to that. She was wearing a red Baywatch jacket which she said, they were told, they could wear anywhere they wanted as long as they never wore it to a beach anywhere in L.A.  because someone might mistake them for a real lifeguard.  I thought that was funny.

There’s no way I know this woman and yet she seems so familiar to me. She grew up in New York and has lived and worked in L.A. Now, she lives in New West and in her words, I wouldn’t trade this place for anywhere…”  She’s lived here four years.

We exchanged cards and decided that it was a great idea to get together as a way to keep focused on continuing with the exercise.

So, New West, I’m opening my mind and getting rid of the “attitude” towards you.  Childhood was another lifetime ago. That was then. This is now. You’re not Salt Spring. That’s painfully clear. But, it’s been two years already. Since I’m here, a little acceptance and a little participation is long overdue.

As an aside, here’s something I wrote about my mother after she passed away.

If you’re interested in writing your mother’s story, Marilyn Norry hosts workshops.  You can put your mother’s story right onto the Mothership site.