It has been two years since Mom died from a short battle with cancer. This post is for her. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to introduce you.

Mom was the one who taught me to write, to put my thoughts on paper, to edit and to play with words. Mom was the one who typed (on a typewriter) most of my high school essays, editing them on the fly as I read to her from my scratched out hand written notes, making suggestions about new words, phrases and sentence structures. Even now, her fingerprints are on everything that I write. 

My first memory of Mom helping me with my homework was in Grade 3.  It was the first year that students were required to write and present speeches to the class.  We decided that my speech would be about nurses and that I would talk about one famous nurse, Florence Nightingale.  We sat around the kitchen table with the Children’s Picture Encyclopedia’s open to the pages about nurses and nursing and together we crafted a fairly good speech. “Honourable Judges, Teachers and fellow students my speech is about nursing…”

Now, ordinarily a mother and child sitting around the table working on homework wouldn’t seem like a big deal, and certainly this memory shouldn’t rank as significant to my childhood. But this no ordinary memory.  This is the moment where my mom taught me to lie.

Okay, let me go back and fill in some of the details.  First of all, I have no idea why I chose the topic of nursing. At the time, I had no first hand experience with nurses. I didn’t even know any nurses.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that Mom chose the topic because there was a lot of information about nurses, nursing and Florence Nightingale in my encyclopedias. I think she wanted me to write a speech on nurses.  And, like a good little girl, I did. 

It was a good speech too.  I started off talking about nurses in general and then went on to the specific information about Florence Nightingale.  The trouble was, when it came time to end the speech, I couldn’t think of a way to close it off. I asked Mom for help and this is where the trouble began.  After reading my speech she suggested the perfect ending. “When I grow up, I want to be a nurse just like Florence Nightingale.”

It was a good ending too.  Except for one thing.  I didn’t want to be a nurse, I wanted to be a teacher.

We agreed that I couldn’t close off a speech about nurses by saying “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher just like Mrs. *****” but we couldn’t think of another great closing sentence. Mom argued that I didn’t really know for sure what I would be when I grew up and that for the sake of the speech I should just finish it off her way. That in fact, maybe I would change my mind and become a nurse. We argued. I cried. We fought some more. And I finished the silly thing off just the way Mom suggested. With a lie. (By the way, I didn’t change my mind. I became a teacher.)

I have thought back to this memory so many times. I teased Mom relentlessly about this over the years. One thing about Mom, you could always count on her for a good reaction and this one always took the cake. Even posting this here would earn me a Heather… It didn’t happen like that” or “Stop it” and she would try to change the story around. And I would grin from ear to ear knowing that it bugged her and egg her on some more. In fact, I’m grinning from ear to ear just thinking about it.

Of course, Mom taught me a lot of other things too. Love, kindness, hospitality. To “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), to live with joy, to love others. 

Truthfully, I’m a little bit stuck now on how I want to finish this one off. There’s so much more I could say about the influence Mom had on my life, more stories, more memories.  I could go on and on (and on and on). The bottom line is this: I learned a lot from Mom, loved her deeply and I miss her everyday presence in my life. 

And that’s no lie.

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