Mother's Day - a Day of Remembrance and Rebirth
Overseeing his territory, amidst a tangle of branches festooned with newborn buds eagerly questing the promised warmth of the morning sun, the official messenger of spring cheerfully issues his proclaimation of its long awaited arrival.
Casting off the mantle of frost, the first flowers of the season, awakened from their cold, dark sleep, eagerly embrace the day, showing off their vibrant colours. Myriad insects begin their cycles, buzzing and flitting amongst the blooms in search of nectar.
Everywhere, the hustle and bustle of new beginnings herald the entrance of this glorious release from winter's grasp.
It seems fitting that on this wondrous day of rebirth, the first day of Spring, our beloved mother laid aside her long and exhausting battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma, slipping peacefully from the physical plain to reside in our memories forever.
The early clusters of daffodils, bright, yellow blooms, wafting their heavenly fragrance on the breeze are poignant reminders to me of her much-missed presence. Gazing at their beauty recalls moments in time, images of our mother at the organ, blissfully enthralled by the music, a tiny smile tugging at her mouth, nodding her head in time with the beat.
Our mother was a force to be reckoned with. No amount of bargaining, coercing, cajoling, or convincing could sway her from a decision once it was made - at least when we were young. Once we reached 'grown-up' status this unbend-able rule became more pliable, and she was more willing to listen to our list of pro's and con's.
However, growing up was a completely different story! Our father was in the military, and away at training sometimes for months on end, so we did not always have the luxury of trying to play one parent against the other in the hopes of a "yes you can." Even when we did, our father, a smart man I might add, torpedoed our inquiries with a "Go ask your Mother," which was always a death knell to our plans.
We soon learned that her "maybe," "we'll see," and "go ask your father," all meant "No", but that rarely deterred us from trying. She 'ran the roost' with an iron hand in a velvet glove, and seldom, if ever, did we tempt fate. If we did manage to push her past her limits, the threat of bringing our father into the mix had us scurrying for cover!
Her decisions were final, and although it seems as if we never had the opportunity for fun, that was far from the case.
Music formed an integral part of our lives, and our family performed at numerous functions over the years - our mother at the organ, my sisters with their guitars, me supplying the percussion - all blended together with glorious harmonies.
Remembering the laughter
On one such occasion, during a six hour ferry trip from Prince Rupert B.C. to Ketchikan, Alaska for a performance, we decided to have lunch in the ship's cafeteria. It was my first trip to Alaska, and I was enthralled with the whole experience. Unfortunately, when we sat down to eat, I bit the inside of my mouth. Anyone who has experienced that sensation knows it can be a painful and distracting accident.
As surreptitiously as possible, I explored the wound with my finger. This, of course, did not slide under the radar as I had hoped, and evoked a rather strong reaction from my mother, along with an order to, "Take your fingers out of your mouth!" I did as I was told, but of course, I had to push the envelope so I took a paper napkin and stuffed it in my mouth, mostly to garner her disapproval, but I was also wanting to ease the sting of the sore...and if I wasn't allowed to use my fingers...
My action elicited a quick nod, and a "You should keep it there". Not being one to let sleeping dogs lie, I again did as I was told, and proceeded to slowly eat the paper, drawing it into my mouth with my lips, much like a turtle eating lettuce. The reaction from my family was more than I could have hoped for. Instead of getting upset at the spectacle of her child making a scene in public, her mouth quirked in a smile and she started to chuckle.
Munching on the paper, I watched as my mother and sister dissolved into peals of laughter so hard that tears ran down their faces. All thoughts of decorum evaporated, as they held their sides, fighting to remain in their seats, laughter ringing throughout the dining room.
It was truly a glorious moment.
Home away from home
THE posh restaurant in Ketchikan
Our mother fell in love with the picturesque beauty of Alaska, and took up residence in the city of Ketchikan, located on the Tongass Narrows. She lived in the large apartment building, shown in the picture above, on the second floor from the top, (the eleventh floor, large window in the center of the building,) and commanded a spectacular view of the surrounding city.
During one of the many trips to visit, my sister and I were taken out to dinner at the posh restaurant in town, The Narrows, in celebration of my eighteenth birthday. At the end of a thoroughly delectable meal, the staff brought out a cake, topped with sparkling candles.
I was thrilled and suspicious at the same time, knowing that my antics aboard the ferry during our last trip were not forgotten. Sure enough, I detected a sparkle, shimmering just below the dancing flames and realized these were not ordinary birthday candles.
Making my wish, I followed the ritual by blowing out the candles, knowing full well that I wouldn't succeed. However, as they burned quickly and were shrinking fast, dripping copious amounts of wax on the top of my prize, I had to find some way to put them out.
All at once I had a brilliant idea. Taking my spoon, I proceeded to use it to snuff them out, one by one. Not only did they not co-operate, they were being driven deeper into the cake, the flames threatening to ruin the icing. All the while my mother, sister, and restaurant staff, were howling with laughter, but what tipped them over the edge was when I began spooning water onto the flames.
I couldn't take the candles out without burning my fingers, so I figured that I could use the water from my glass to extinguish the flames. This sent my family and the small group of onlookers into fresh gales of laughter. By the time I succeeded in snuffing out the candles, the entire group was holding their sides, tears streaming down their cheeks, laughing hysterically.
It was one of my finest moments, that is still remembered fondly as the day I beat my birthday cake to death...regardless of what really happened.
Of the countless memories I have of our mother, these are the two that leap to mind every time I witness the rebirth of spring, with its glorious carpet of daffodils. Happy Mother's Day, Mom - we love you.