A Few Important Things I Learned From My Mother & Why She's My Hero

May all the mothers around the world be lauded, loved and celebrated, not just for this one day, but for the year round. 

I thought of doing a post on my favourite mother's day books this weekend, but then decided just to celebrate my own mother and why I am still inspired by her. Of course I'll sneak in a few literary references.

1.    Reading is good. When we were young she used to sit in a warm space and get lost in a book. (often harlequin romance) Trying to get her attention by calling her Mom never worked. Unless we used her given name, she never responded, and then she gave us heck for using it. After her traumatic brain injury a few years ago, I lay in her hospital bed with her while we read picture books together until the nurse kicked me out. Tomie dePaola's Now One Foot, Now the Other and Nana Upstairs and Nana Upstairs were her favourites. She always has a book on the go, even today at the age of 82, and after her injury, it might take her a bit longer to finish a book, but she is still an avid reader. 

2.    Work hard on your marriage. In spite of hardships that wrench many lives asunder, my parents worked hard and stayed committed to each other. At the age of 26, my father was injured in a logging accident and ended up using a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Less than 5% of marriages survive this. In spite of this and other tribulations, theirs did.

3.    Education is something to embrace at any age. After my father's accident, my mother went back to highschool to upgrade so she could become a nurse. This wasn't easy given they had five children and a limited income.

4.    Everyone makes mistakes. It isn't the end of the world. During a rough time in their marriage, my mother got pregnant and gave a baby up for adoption. When he searched and found her, she welcomed him back into her life.

5.    You can always start over. After my father died at the young age of 58, Mom grieved deeply. Then, she pulled herself together, moved to another town, met a new man, and lived and loved again.

6.    Find beauty in your life. My mother has always loved being outside in wild spaces. She showed me that the sacred is in the trees and land. Even in the city where I now live, I find it everywhere.

7.    Keep busy: have a project on the go. These days mom is working on finishing a postage stamp quilt for me. It's more complicated than you might think, especially given that she has had that brain injury. Making progress on it fills her with joy, and takes away the edge of knowing she has cancer.

8.    Focus on the positive. In these past few years this has been mom's most difficult challenge. A head injury and a cancer diagnosis will do that to you. She has lost so very much: her driver's licence, her home, and her independence. On top of this she's had to deal with losing her partner, siblings, and other close friends and relatives. It's harder for her to stay positive, but she tries, and still succeeds most times.

9.    Close friends are a treasure, don't let them slip out of your life. While Mom can be pretty outgoing, the truth is that she really only had a few close friends. As she has aged, I've gotten to know some of them better. I've seen how they rallied round her and supported her when she needed them most.

10.  Love and accept your family and whatever responsibility that entails. From opening our home to all and sundry in the house in the small town we grew up in, to taking in my grandmother when she needed support at the end of her life; my parents made sure that family was always welcome. On the other hand, our big extended family has welcomed and supported us right back.

The most important thing I've learned from my mother is to never give up on the things and people that matter most to you. That's why I'll never give up on her.


  1. Oh I knew that I would get weepy reading this and I did. Thank you for sharing your Mother's love and wise choices with all of us.

    1. Oh thanks Carrie. I think our mother's teach us more unconsciously than they do consciously. Like we as teacher do, and that can be pretty scary!

  2. What a wonderful post! I'll remember this for a long time.

    1. Thanks Carl. It's only when you know you are going to lose someone that you truly appreciate them I think.