Mothers Day Memories – By Catherine Olsen

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She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.  ~Margaret Culkin Banning

This year, Mothers Day will be a very special day because it is the 2nd year in many that I do not have my Mom here to celebrate with.  She passed away on December 20, 2012.  All I have left is pictures and lots of wonderful memories that I would like to share in her honor.

Mom was born and raised in the small Interior town of Quesnel, B.C.   Her dad had come north from the United States at the beginning of the century, to settle with his family and her mother was from Ontario.  They were not a typical family because Grandpa was rather eccentric.  They lived in the woods while he eked out a living panning for gold and trapping furs to earn money.

At a very young age, Mom started to display her unique gift of creating and was able to knit, crochet and sew.  This continued all through her life.  While we were growing up she sewed all of our clothes for my two younger sisters and me.  Needless to say the three of us were very well dressed!  Mom was also wonderful at making Hallowe’en costumes and this was clearly evident the year we turned out as the Beatles (although we were missing one!)  It wasn’t funny at the time but Mom and I actually had a lot of disputes over my clothes because we had different tastes and didn’t always agree on what I should wear.

Mom was my best friend.  Her unconditional love was the glue that bound our family together.  We shared everything and one of our favourite things to do was go camping and picnicking together.  We would pack up (everything but the kitchen sink!) and head to the lake for endless fishing.  It was heaven.  The grandkids were always gloated on and received priority treatment.  Mom didn’t really like eating fish that much but was highly competitive when it came to who caught the most fish!

We spent hours walking and playing cribbage together.  Mom taught me how to play the card game and she just despised it when I beat her.

After all the years of trying every craft known to woman, Mom found her passion.  She took a course to learn how to make baskets out of Ponderosa pine needles. These are very long pine needles that grow on trees in the Southern Interior of British Columbia.   She and Dad would travel to places where these trees grow, pick the needles off of the ground and take them home to be cleaned and turned into beautiful baskets.  Mom travelled to markets and sold them in the craft stores.  She also taught many courses so others learned this wonderful trade.

A year ago this May, we had a small family reunion and Mom and Dad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Mom made up picture collages of my sisters, all of our children and now the great-grandchildren that hang on the wall of their house.

We spent last summer together, basking in each other’s company like we knew the days were short.  She had an incredibly busy time teaching courses and making baskets.  In early September, Mom discovered a lump on her belly.  It was weird because even though I tried to be positive, deep down I knew it wasn’t good.  She laid down on the couch and didn’t get up again.  It was terminal cancer and had spread into her brain.  There wasn’t any treatment and the doctors told her to just stay home and prepare to die.

It was an incredible time for us all.  My Dad, my sisters and I took care of Mom at home.  We spent hours sitting by her side, reading her the story my Grandfather had written on their life in the wilderness and telling her how much we loved her.   Her Dad had carved her a wooden doll (Woody) that we kept beside her.  I was able to share some of my spirituality and let her know that the angels were there to guide her.  If there can be good in a difficult situation it was that there are two types of brain cancer, one is extremely painful and the other has no pain at all.  Mom did not suffer.  Christmas was her favorite time of the year so it was fitting that Mom passed away on the eve of Winter Solstice and just a few days before the festive season.  The legacy she has left for me exemplifies courage in the finest degree.

So, now, the hallway is covered with pictures of days gone by and we are left with the memory of a very wonderful and special woman who loved us all dearly.

cathering olsonCatherine Olsen lives in beautiful Squamish British Columbia, Canada.  She loves to spend her time outdoors where the oceans meet the mountains: walking, reading, biking and gardening.

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9 Comments

  1. Beautifully written, Catherine. I know how hard it is to celebrate Mother’s Day without your mom. I wish I could say it gets easier and it does…a tad.

    Keep your memories close. She is there within them.

  2. Louise - from the shores of Kalamalka Lake

    May 10, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    What a nice story, I was privileged to be part of your family journey from afar and know that your mother was courageous, special and surrounded by love. The photo you chose for your story really spoke to me, it says a lot about your mother. Mother’s Day shouldn’t be sad, it should be a reason to celebrate the great mother that continues to watch over you.

  3. Thank you for reading, my dear sister and friends! I have finally found the courage to write about things that are close to my heart. It’s thanks to people that I have met through the internet like Kim, Jennifer Shelton, Monica Wilcox and Megz to name a few that have helped me to find my voice. Luv you all xoxo

  4. Catherine,
    This is such a sweet story. Thank you for sharing the memories of and the love you still have for your mom.

  5. To my dear sister – thank you for the beautiful memories of mom, I have many of the same. I will share this with my friends and family in memory of mom. Love you so much Cath – your middle sister Di.

  6. Catherine,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us. It is really a poignant time of the year for you – the first mother’s day without your mom. But I so love the tribute you have written for her.. most heart-warming and magical. Your words have so much power and I am sure you will be carrying her legacy in the same beautiful, courageous manner.

    Much love,
    xo

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