Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Note to Self: Your Mom was Badass 

Mom commandeering a small water craft
Mom commandeering small water craft

This week at home has been, as it always is, a reminder of what I miss living in Toronto (and some of what I don’t miss). The wild wet weather and the rocky rough landscape and the folks who, without knowing you, will talk to you as if they always have. Then there is my mother and her lifetime of habits that somehow I’ve forgotten about and moved on from. I can’t claim to be the healthiest person I know, but when looking in my mom’s fridge, I realized I’ve come a long way. The first day I was home, I opened the fridge and counted 5 lbs of margarine, 1 lb of shortening, 1 chocolate cake, 1 chocolate chip cake and some apples. Since then my aunt arrived with another chocolate cake and my mother has made 2 pies. Admittedly my brother is having a birthday in a few days but still there are more cakes than fruits and vegetables in the fridge. I won’t go on further about how my mom can’t eat Tim Horton’s chilli because it is too spicy (I swear that is psychosomatic) or that how all coffee tastes the same etc. I won’t bother you about how traumatic introducing the concept of copy/paste on a PC would be. Let’s cut a senior citizen a break on technology. I mean, this is why I fear the US would actually elect a septuagenarian as president, “Which button is the one you kids worry I shouldn’t have my finger on? This one? What? Speak up, man!” I accept that my mom is slowing down. She accepts it too. The thing I really have to accept though – when my mom was young, she was kind of badass.

Not breaking-down-doors kind of badass but travelling to a faraway place and working in some very remote and difficult conditions. I’m not about to say working as a nurse in Newfoundland in the 50s was like working with Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan or anything but it was very different than where she came from. I’ve been going through these slides my brother scanned a couple of summers ago and I’ve been cleaning them up – colour correcting, removing dust and scratches and fixing exposure if possible. Thus I’ve been spending time with my mother and father in the past. Tidying up these photos means you really spend a lot longer looking at them than if you were just thumbing through them in an album. There she is, my mom, smiling in a snowstorm, with sled dogs, digging gardens, commandeering small watercraft, tending a stove at a camp site, greeting a seaplane, and wrestling two small boys into sitting still for a photo. She came to Newfoundland to work at a Grenfell Mission rural hospital. She stayed and married the Anglican priest. Her family and everything she knew was thousands of miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. Yet she made this her place, her history and her story.

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