By Charlie Hodge
I make no bones about it, she was my first love.
Certainly my first kiss and first mentor. Unfortunately for any other women in my life, she unintentionally left big footprints. My memory paints her as almost perfect.
I suppose ideally that is how it should be with all mothers; Each of us able to stand up and yell, “My Mom was the best.” I recognize such is not the case for some, however thankfully that’s my world.
I admit to be a Mommy suck, a spoiled kid who shadowed her every move.
It’s not like I was lonely or I did not have friends. I had plenty, however I really liked hanging with Mom. She encouraged me to do other things, however never made me feel like I was in the way or a bother. I always felt a safe, soft spot near her.
Mom taught me through osmoses to be patient and gentle when others might choose to be harsh. I learned there is nothing to be feared from silence or dead air.
She was the first to peel back the layers of love a garden can provide.
It was there in the garden we spent the majority of our time together, chatting about anything – and sometimes not chatting at all.
An absolutely amazing green-thumb girl mom was a knowledgeable garden guru working nearly two decades at Burnett and Sons Greenhouse. A visitor to that busy garden supply place was quickly informed if you wanted to know something about perennials you saw Doris.
I remember around age eight asking mom one spring morning as we toiled in the topsoil, “What’s the difference between a weed and a flower?”
She paused for a split second, then with a small grin replied, “Attitude.”
“Whadya mean,” I bit.
“Well if you like it, if you think it’s pretty, or smells nice, then it’s a flower. If you don’t like it – then it’s a weed,” she said calmly, returning her concentration to the lump of dirt in front of her.
I wander done this memory lane today because my true bloodline brother posted a facebook picture Tuesday noting it was my Mom’s 99th birthday.
“She was an amazing and beautiful woman. Strong and loving. Beautiful and courageous. Enduring all things with grace. Always finding the best in people. Always finding something kind and encouraging to say,” he wrote.
Vic nailed it.
As loving and patient as she was to me and my two siblings, it was her patience and love for all folks that I found astounding.
Born in the fall of 1919 she grew up during the ‘roaring’ 1920’s, as a teenager during the harsh depression of the 1930’s, only to become a young adult plunged into the realities of a brutal world war.
When the madman across the water moved into Poland and other nation’s Mom’s world like so many others, was rocked to its core.
Though she never talked about her broken heart, Daniel, the young man who first truly caught her breath and attention scampered onto a troop train out of Vernon as a volunteer soldier and never came back.
It was not supposed to be like that. Canadian families had been assured it would take little time or effort to eliminate the threat to democracy. Just a few months after his departure a telegram came home to Penticton saying Daniel would not be.
Mom was still reeling from that loss when her only brother, Roy, was blown to bits in his tank in Italy.
Her world went numb.
Mom eventually dated another fellow named Sydney and during a ‘leave’ a few months later married him. Syd had been relentless in his pursuit of Mom and so she sent him back off to war with some joy in his heart.
The man that left was not the same man who came home. Today we understand the trauma and mental conditions experienced by some war veterans but back then – not so.
For the remainder of her days Mom lived in a quiet hell with a man who had no real idea how lucky he was to be blessed with such a partner.
Mom never complained.
She never bought into bitterness or dwelled on self sorrow. Instead Mom focused her world on her children and others, refusing to let hurt or anger drag her down. She realized life is about choice and she chose to take the high road, do the right thing, and let love lead the dance.
I miss my Mommy.
As I get older I admit to being grouchier and more self-centred which I need to work on. However, I also like to think every extra day on this planet provides more opportunity to do things that count. Like helping others who may be having a harsh time.
Taking time for others is easy, and in fact something I enjoy. However, that too has its price – such as burn out.
However, thankfully when I run low on the love and positive energy level and need a boost – I step into my garden. I know Mom is out there somewhere with a smile on her face and her hands in the dirt.
Happy birthday Mom.