Archive for October, 2011

Tribute to a Great Woman and Defining Influence

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

~1329 words = <6 min. reading time
Reason for reading: to learn more about the person who helped define who I am and how I think.

This is a longer blog-post but I won’t apologise for that.

One of the many reasons for this blog is to help you learn more about the person behind this company. At the risk of over-sharing (you don’t have to read this if you don’t want to), I’m going to let you know more about a person who greatly influenced who I am today; my mother, who recently passed away while I was out of the country.

This past Friday was a beautiful start to the autumn weekend, perfect for a Canadian Thanksgiving! It was the best weather we’d had since returning from vacation.

The whole week prior had been sort of gloomy, foggy and it not only matched my mood but made it easy to focus on my task at hand; preparing for my mother’s Celebration of Life service. No distractions.

Together with my siblings, in-laws, and the grand kids, I really focused on the task of making my mother’s Celebration of Life as memorable as possible and a true representation of the person she was in life.

My mother was a most amazing person. (I’m not the only one who says this.) She was one of the most honest and ethical, hard-working and persevering people you could possibly imagine. Her Celebration of Life included an eulogy by her eldest, memories from her grandkids, a DVD to music (created by us) of pictures from very early in her life to the week before she passed away, a reading entitled ‘The Ideal Wife’ (which everyone agrees she was), sung musical tributes by Sherwood Park’s own Bella Rouge, and also a tribute from me.

I will share with you now, what I shared on Friday.

“My mom was many things and ‘set the bar high’ at everything she did.

“My mom was a gardener, she had tremendous flower beds. She could keep them looking great long after first frost. She shared her secret with me. After a frost, get up and hose down the flowers before the first rays of sun hit them. It works!

“My mom was bold and adventurous. I would like to have known her as a teenager. She told me about how she used to hike up to the top of Mount McKay and back. That sounds like something I would have done. She quite purposefully had two children at an age that was, in those days, entirely unacceptable. She learned to drive at about age 48 – not sure many people learn at that age now, never mind in ‘those days’. She was pulled over by an officer once; he wanted to commend her on her driving.

“Always an innovator, when her two youngest children were sick more often than not, she learned about allergies (a very new topic in those days) and, despite the quiet ridicule from others, she persisted and pursued treatment for her children and made their lives much better for it.

“My mom was a leader. She wasn’t the type to be domineering at a public event but she was the type that wouldn’t let something go if she believed it should be handled in a certain way for a positive outcome for everyone. She proved that when she led the charge against converting the local school to a greenhouse and, instead, it was turned into a centre for the local seniors.

“My mom had tremendous observation and foresight. She could see what others couldn’t or chose not to see. As if she had a crystal ball, she could usually project the outcome of her observations and, in doing so, predict the future. She often predicted what was going to be happening with the economy long before it hit the news. I asked her how she knew and the answer I received was, “I’ve lived long enough and experienced enough to know this.” I learned to pay attention to her observations and insights for to ignore them was usually folly!

“Despite there being no budget for it, my mom would do as much as she could to help us pursue our interests. She knew I was passionate about horses but we couldn’t afford for me to own one. One alternative was to let me work at the track for a brief time. This is how it went down. We would rise and leave at 4:00AM, breakfast in hand, and she would take me to Northlands Racetrack – there was no easy drive across the Capilano so this required going downtown and around. She would drop me off at Northlands where I would help the grooms, walk hot horses, etc. Then she would pick me up again at 7:00 to get me to my school in time for track practice at 7:30. No small effort!

“Always willing to try new things, when she was in her seventies, we once convinced her it would be fun to go down the waterslide. (What were we thinking?!) She didn’t go a second time. I think once was enough for her. In her eighties we introduced her to Wii bowling. She had an absolute blast! :-)

“Mom always loved to learn. Although my mom had a sharp memory throughout her life, due to her short term memory loss in her end-years, it wasn’t always easy to come up with things to discuss. Yay Internet! Mom would mention places from her past that were special to her, we would look it up on a BlackBerry and the conversation would begin! We learned a lot. Sometimes when we talked, we’d read about something none of us knew anything about. There’d be silence for awhile and Mom would expectantly say, “Well?” I’d look at her and say, with uncertainty, “Well, what, Mom?” She’d reply, “I thought you were looking that up on that thing of yours.” :-)

“Speaking of communication, in her nineties, we set Mom up with a Facebook page so the grandchildren could communicate more easily with her. We explained the concept to her and she thought it was a good and interesting idea. Just so you know, her Facebook statuses were all crafted by her and I learned tremendous patience while I waited for my mother to word her status ‘just so’. I wasn’t allowed to translate it in an approximate way. “That doesn’t sound like something I’d say.” She wanted everyone to know it was coming from her. Sometimes one update would take a half hour to produce!

“Listen up grandkids; you’ll appreciate this! Did I mention my mother was very astute? Facebook, in its wisdom, made some suggestions for friends for my mother. Always wanting her to be in charge of her profile, we asked her if she knew any of these people and whether she would like to add them to her friend list. She was a little puzzled by the recommendations. “Why would it suggest these people as friends?” she asked. We explained that these were friends of her friends so the Facebook program thought they might also be her friends or people she’d like to meet. Her reply? “Wow. That sounds like a real marketing racket!” My jaw dropped! I was stunned by her instant grasp of implications for this new media! By the way, shortly after, Facebook began rolling out ‘friend marketing’ in news streams.

“Always when we left we’d each give Mom a kiss on the cheek and she would kiss us in return. I’d say, “Love you Mom.” She’d reply, “Bye-bye dear. Love you too.”

“I love you Mom. Thanks for the legacy. You were a great mother and a wonderful grandmother. You’re definitely a tough act to follow.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have a great day and, for your own benefit, reflect for a few moments on things you can be thankful for :)

Sylvia Schneider
President, Pondside Digital Media