Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The greatest Woman I've Ever Known

I've been thinking, as I do frequently, about my mom. It's been three and a bit years since she moved on and I still have a hole in my life. Not that I expected not to miss her but more that nothing/ no one has come along to fill the hole.
The most recent prompts came from Jessica and Dayle. Dayle is going through one of the most difficult times of her life. Her beloved Greg is not well and the burden of this falls squarely on her shoulders. Being her mother's daughter she's doing what needs to be done and ignoring the pain that must be folllowing her daily. I know she has been talking to mom but it's just not the same and though I'm trying to be a better sister it's just not the same. Sometimes you just need your mom.
Jessica's prompt came yesterday. Jess is transitioning between jobs and was at an interview. She took the subway by mom's old apartment and would have loved to have hopped off, had lunch, and talked to Grandma about all the opportunities opening up for her.
What was it about this woman that she still inspires such love and admiration? I think it comes from her genuine interest in everything and everyone. Having lived through the Great Depression and WW2 she learned to make something out of nothing and how to carry on although I'm sure she had fears dogging her many times. I can't imagine having the man that you love head off to war and disappear. Later to come home sick and I think suffering from what we now call post traumatic distress symdrome. But mom carried on, built a home and a family and proceeded to make a huge difference in so many people's lives.
I think both of their slightly warped senses of humour helped get them through some tough times. A trait that has definitely been passed down to their children. I know in my life if I didn't laugh I would have cried, a lot and I know that's what's helping Dayle remain sane right now.
I don't know if mom was actually aware of the impact she had on everyone who knew her. I do know that she was insecure about being a good friend, something I share, because she was perfectly happy with her own company. I know that, having returned to Bracebridge, when anyone finds out I'm Mrs. Ferrier's daughter I will hear nothing but praise for her. I'll always believe that mom found her calling when she started teaching. She was able to communicate with teenagers in a respectful and humourous way that, in return, earned their respect. Never afraid to make a fool of herself I know my friends found her to be the most human of teachers. Highly intelligent and always eager to learn she passed on this enthusiasm. Most of my friends had her as a teacher for at least typing class and I often hear that this was one of their favourite classes!
Mom taught, and therefore worked fulltime, most of my life. She worked for ten years to receive her degree in education and kept on learning adding several specialist designations until late in her career. All of this done while raising us three girls ( my brother, being much older, was on his own by then) and holding together a household where my father was frequently absent. Our house full of girls must have been maddening and I realize now that she had little outside distraction. A lot of people would ask if I hated having my mom at school all the time but the reality is I didn't. There was a definite generation gap between us, mom being 42 when I was born, but she knew teenagers becuase she dealt with them every day. That didn't make her less strict but I felt that, while she didn't always agree with our choices, she at least knew we weren't the only ones making them.
Mom was a born leader, another trait we share. There wasn't a committee created that mom wouldn't be leading once she joined! Not out of arrogance but because her keen intelligence could quickly see what needed to be done and how to do it. If there's one thing all of us Ferrier girls have in common is our lack of patience for fools. Look at a situation, determine what needs to happen and make sure it does. Don't dither, oh god, don't dither! I'm sure there were a few people who found mom's confidence overbearing but they are genuinely few and far between. I think it's because it was tempered with fierce loyalty and a willingness to roll up her sleeves and do the work.
Mom, like me, needed few friends. What she had was a small group of very close friends who supported each other. I know some of her friends in her later years were the best she ever had. Brought together by the proximity of the seniors' apartment complex she gravitated to a group of people who stimulated her intellectually. She would tell me about their discussions on world matters that I know I never have with people. Rob, Pat and Abu came from diverse backgrounds but with mom as the catalyst they came together as a loyal group right to the end. Mom outlived each of them and a little piece of her died with each one.
I often joke that I want to be just like her when I grow up and I continue to strive for that. The voice in my head and now in her grandchildren's heads. Do what needs to be done, remain loyal to your loved ones, never stop learning and remain humble. I didn't realize it growing up but because of both of my parents thirst for knowledge we were never taught to look down on anyone because of colour or race. If you are educated you realize that everyone has something important to contribute. Look outside your small world and get to know the rest of it. Then treat everyone with the respect they deserve.
I wish I could hang out with my mom and it brings tears to my eyes thinking that I never will again but her legacy lives in all of her kids and grandkids. I'd like to think that we're decent caring human beings and what could be better than that.

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