Posts Tagged ‘do the thing’

Fave Picture of Mum and I – Christmas 2020

Never in my wildest dreams, as I sat down to bang out a speech for my mother’s funeral, did I ever imagine the reception it would get. To this day, just over 2 months later, I still have people quoting it to me!

There are so many reasons why I haven’t been on here in a long while, offering things from my own heart, beyond the quotes of other people. My mother’s sudden death, however, is certainly one reason. Losing her has taken up so much space, equal to the enormous amount of space she occupied in my life and my heart, that I haven’t an ounce of creative energy left. But I have this, this speech, that I would like to offer as a tribute to my mother. And if it inspires you in some way, all the better.

(Note: I took the liberty of editing Mum’s imagined conversation with God so that it is now accurate. One simply does not drop an F-bomb in the middle of a funeral. 😉 )

So much love,


What am I supposed to say to tie together a broad 75 year life?  I think this is the point where I come up with something profound, or offer a cute anecdote to lift spirits, but I’ve got nothing.  You have the amazing stories right now, and profound can be left to the philosophers.  What I have, and what I think you may also have, is a broken heart.  So let’s work with that.

There are 3 questions that have come up consistently as the story of my mother’s passing has been told:

1) Was she sick?

2) Did she suffer?

3) What happened?

My mother always relied on me to face and speak to the uncomfortable things, so I will do that now.

No, she wasn’t sick.  Not in the way you’d think.  Not in a doubled-over, barely moving kind of way.  My Mum had a broken heart, the child of a long line of people whose hearts were broken.  My mother lived with angina for 30 years without incident.  It was quite remarkable.  But lately she had been struggling with dizzy spells.  Having also lived with vertigo from time to time, she thought nothing of it, until the night she almost blacked out.  That night scared her enough to take her to the doctor who directed her to the hospital, which led to an admission, a battery of tests, the placement of 2 stents, 1 cardiac arrest, a quick resuscitation, recovery and back home.  All within a week.  I told my mother, who loved musicals, that I appreciated her skill at skipping off-Broadway and instead going full Broadway with her performance.

I was hoping that all of this would inspire my mother to bust out and do the things she had been putting off for too long.  So, to answer question number 2 – Did she suffer?  Not physically.  But living in a Covid world started to take my mother down.  She lost her volunteer positions.  She lost her sense of purpose.  She lost her connections.  And she lost her ability to talk to God.  She had too much time on her hands, too much time in her head, and fear started to creep in.  She started to fear everything – wind, poverty, declining health, inevitable death.  All very reasonable fears but they prevented her from living, from truly connecting to the pulse of life.  So in a deep, spiritual way, my mother suffered dearly.

Question number 3 – What happened?  This part I will keep short.  My mother died in her sleep.  Peacefully.  When I found her, she looked more peaceful than I had ever seen.  Finally, she had done something easily.  Finally, she surrendered.  She just let go.  No struggle.  No argument.  She just went to sleep and let go. 

That’s a remarkable thing.  Many of you will know that my mother didn’t always take the easy road.  She waited a lot for “perfect”.  She waited for the perfect time.  The Wednesday before she passed she said to me, “I look forward to walking the pier again.”  She loved the pier in Port Credit.  She’d go and look out over the lake, stopping to admire any and every baby within eyesight.  But….BUT….the weather had to be just so – not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, no bugs, not too many people.  The Tuesday before she passed, chatting with her friend before Yoga class about books, she mentioned how much she was looking forward to reading the newest book by one of her favourite mystery authors.  THIS book right here.  She held on to this book for months.  MONTHS.  Why?  Because….it had to be read on the back deck, in the summer, at about 6:30 in the morning, with a cup of tea ONLY if there were no children around, no leaf blowers going, no lawnmowers, no construction.  The spine on this book has never been cracked.  She never read the book.  And don’t even get me started on the trip to Newfoundland, a dream trip of hers that never happened because “perfect” never happened either.

I think if my mother returned to us today she would say this:  DO THE THING!  Eat the cake.  Read the book.  Ride the motorcycle.  Take the trip.  Call the friend.  Reflect on the past but don’t get stuck there.  Just….do the thing!

I imagine my mother now, free of her bodily confines, sitting, legs crossed, in God’s office.  Mum is smartly dressed with perfectly coiffed hair, as always.  Make-up just so.  She is looking at God with those piercing eyes and she says, “I have some questions for you.”  And as God starts to speak, she says, “Just a minute.  Just a minute.  I need to take notes.  Now where the FUCK did I put my glasses?!!”  Because only my mother could boss God around.

There’s a big hole now, a hole that was uniquely Christine’s, one that will never be filled again.  But maybe, just maybe, if we listen closely enough, we’ll be able to hear her incredible, infectious laugh, carried to us on the wind.  Or maybe a Baltimore Oriole, her most beloved bird, can remind us of her love of vibrant colours.  And if we’re really lucky, out of the corners of our eyes, maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of her spontaneously dancing anywhere, anytime.

Ja kocham cie, Mamus.  I love you.  As do so many others.  And you will be missed so much.

But it’s your turn now.  Be free.  Fly!

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