Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Season

This can be a difficult time of year for those who have lost loved ones.
For those who are ill, it can be hard being away from family and friends.

Never a day goes by that I do not think I ought to phone my late mother and let her know what is going on. For us, having moved away from our children to look after parents, we began creating different celebrations. My mother invented Christmas in July in our town. She felt that this being a summer vacation spot, when so many families get together at Christmas, that putting on a summer celebration made sense.

We scheduled a big Celebration of Life for Mom. In hindsight, I should have skipped the first private funeral and concentrated on this one. Two funerals were one too many. Writing Mom’s eulogy was a cathartic yet difficult process. It forced me to go back and find all the great things that made Mom who she was. The recent life that was framed by cancer was dispelled by her activities and a youth that included music and much church involvement.

I went with a Christmas theme for Mom’s service. I am sure that anyone who knew our Joanie understood why I went with this theme! Christmas was Mom’s favourite time of year. I remember the joyful choir rehearsals in Toronto at Lawrence Park United Church; candlelight service, midnight Christmas Eve communion service, which was preceded by an open house at her best friend’s house; a glorious time of year for music. Mom invented Christmas in July--here in Bala, the Bala Trek, Mom’s open houses, with Dad charming one and all and serving as wine steward. There were some terrific photos, the four of us, current dog in tow, driving with the Scythes family, amongst others, to chop down Christmas trees, with hot chocolate and marshmallows to follow. (Caitlin has perpetuated that tradition with her dear husband, Jean–Luc.) Mom set up the house just so at Christmastime. She always began playing Christmas carols in August, when she came home from the summer at the cottage.

After Mom’s memorial service, we had a reception. The caterer did a great job. I knew Mom wanted a fine splash. I did not want church folks worrying about baking for the service, as her dear church friends were in mourning almost as much as we were. It is a shock when your peers begin to get ill and pass away.

Summer was a busy time in cottage country, with folks entertaining loved ones. I felt healthier, happier, and began to get accustomed to my new life. It was a great time to celebrate Mom's life.

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me but I think she enjoyed it. --Mark Twain, American humorist, satirist, lecturer (1835 - 1910)

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