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Posts tagged ‘Mama’


Today’s a special day.

It would have been my mum’s seventy-fifth birthday.

In early spring, before things took a turn for the worse, Mama had been talking about having a big bash for her 75th. But as it happens, she is gone and her loved ones are scattered around the planet. My father is in transit to Europe, my brother is in Jordan, my sisters are all in different cities across Canada, and I am mid-move (next post: new house tour!). Her friends are also widely dispersed – Montreal, Toronto, Pennsylvania, England.

So I thought I would offer up this space as a make-shift gathering place. I can’t say I really believe she would approve of a birthday party on a blog, but it’s all I’ve got. I wish I had more photos to post, but all my albums are in boxes somewhere. Here is one of my mother, Gabriel (centre), with her sister Jane (left) and her mother Betty (right), a long time ago in Monte Carlo. It surfaced in the summer when we were looking at lots of old photos, and it is so unlike any other photo I have of her I took a snap of it on my phone and carry it around with me.

My mum did birthdays exceptionally well. She wrote personalized poems, stacked up gifts wrapped with ribbon and minimal tape (to make re-using the wrapping paper extra easy), made your favourite meal and baked a cake.  If you lived far away she always got a card to you on time. And yet, when it came to her birthdays, she never wanted much fuss in her honour. Birthday requests usually amounted to  “a few new pens” and “no more books!” (which we almost always disobeyed).

I hope you all find some small way to celebrate Gabriel’s life today. Buy yourself a new pen. Give the cryptic crossword a go. Read some poetry. Smoke a Players Filter. (Just kidding on that last one of course.)

Happy 75th Birthday Mama. We sure do miss you.



A few days ago, we sent our eldest off to camp for a month. After she’d gone, I was having one of those “what the hell were you thinking?” parenting moments. I’m not so good at goodbyes at the best of times. But to be fair, I didn’t know that this goodbye would be coming so close on the heels of the biggest goodbye I’ve ever had to say.

My mother died two weeks ago.

My grief is enormous.

My grief is a rogue wave, rising out of the ocean and knocking me down, leaving me gasping for breath. If I didn’t have all these children playing on the beach, it would be tempting to let it pull me out to sea and drift for a while.

Almost everything makes me think of my mother. I’m chopping cilantro to put in a salad and I think of how she would send me out to the garden to pick specific herbs and when I returned she’d put them in a glass measuring cup and hand me a pair of kitchen scissors and tell me to chop. A Beatles song comes on the shuffle and I think of how she liked Ringo best, and how she would tell us they were from Liverpool, like her father. I read something in the paper or in a book that I want to tell her about or get her opinion on and the wave rises again.

I suppose with time I will become more accustomed to it. It will hit with less impact, or I will become stronger. I don’t know.

She was a force, my mum.