It was a beautiful moment last night sitting with my cousinsand my dad talking about my mom.The adjectives used to describe my mom were words thatI will never forget:kind, memory maker, forgiving, quiet leader, athletic,loving, servant-heart,Super Nana, homemaker, teacher,lifelong learner…and many more.
Wendy has known me since I was born, and my mom longer. I asked her to share her journey with mom. I am grateful.
Here’s Wendy at the hospital when we had a sleepover with mom last week:
Hi Joanna. Here is my story with Gwen especially for you.
Where to begin ….. ?
I know ….. at the beginning.
The introduction of Gwen:
The first time I met Gwen was at Jim’s and My house in Perry Sub. It was a Mohawk Party. And Mike brought his new fiance with him to meet us all. Apparently, (as the story goes) only one of the ladies at the party spoke to Gwen. (Not a nice story)
But then, as the story goes, Gwen and I became great friends.
We began our Prince George career in basketball with Uncle Bill Fraser as our Coach.
The Prince George Mohawks:
Mike and Jim were defencemen for the Prince George Mohawks. And we went to many games, parties, family get togethers over the next 4 years. Joanna and Amber hung around with each other at the arenas. Little rink rats.
The Prince George Mohawk Oldtimers:
Later on in years we got to travel with our husbands so they could play Oldtimer Hockey.
One memory of Gwen and I is that of a tournament held in Kelowna where we could wear our shorts and sit out side and suntan.
Yes, we both love the sun.
Austin Road Elementary School:
Gwen was Amber’s Librarian at Austin Road Elementary when Amber was in Grade 4. Gwen asked Amber if there were any animals at our Pet Store that she would like to bring to school for Show and Tell. Amber brought the cutest little rabbits, and she left them overnight. In the morning “Mrs. Jenkins” had to ask Amber to go all over the school to pick up bunny “poop” as the rabbits had escaped.
I also volunteered, once, in the library and then Gwen shooed Me off to help in the gym to coach basketball.
She said I was better suited there. haha
I also helped “Mrs Jenkins” on Sports Day.
In 1994 Gwen and I, along with 8 other people, went to Peru. An amazing experience. It was wonderful looking at our outings through Gwen’s eyes. Gwen taught the country of Peru to her Grade 6’s and she always wanted to go. We have great memories, excellent pictures to document our trip, which was full of many laughs.
Under Gwen supervision, I volunteered for the Scottie Ladies Tournament of Hearts.
In 2001 Don and I moved to Vernon as my sister Faye and husband Bill were living there.
In later years, Gwen and Mike bought a house two doors down from Michelle, Craig, Sydney and Abby.
This was so great as I knew I would get to chum around with Gwen again.
Watched basketball games at Fulton, VSS – and when we started to watch we did not even know a player on either team. We just love basketball.
And finally a player we knew – Chris Richter for Fulton.
Watched volleyball at Fulton. And one season, I became Joanna’s Manager for the Grade 9/10 Fulton Girls Volleyball Team. Gwen was Team supporter and the Grandmother to Jackson. Best time of my life. I will treasure this memory always. (Joanna, you are such a special “girl” and those girls were so lucky to have you as their Coach – to make them better volleyball players and better people.)
Movies and Popcorn:
Either one of us would say “Good Movie on tonight….” “Meet you there”…. we would then have our popcorn and enjoy the movie whether it was excellent or just plain rotten. I will miss these times.
It was great just to meet for coffee somewhere in Vernon. There are so many little coffee shops.
One favourite thing to do was to go for lunch and have meat loaf sandwiches with our coffee.
We also drove to Armstrong for coffee with the Ladies we had met from Vernon and Armstrong.
Sandy Morris took me to the first Newcomers Dinner. And there was Gwen . So now there are 3 of us from Prince George.
We were then introduced to book clubs, snow skiing, snow shoeing, hikes, quilting, bike riding, . Gwen participated in all these clubs I just joined a book club and snow shoed. 🙂
Pals is the name of my book club. Stands for …… “Pay Attention Ladies” A wonderful group of friends.
Gwen joined the coffee part of our group.
Viper Hockey Games:
Gwen and I were fortunate to go to a few hockey games together. We enjoyed these outings, too. We would go to White Spot for supper first and then to the game.
How many times has Gwen driven Me to the Airport and then picked Me up from the Airport ???
I am truly thankful for this thoughfulness.
Trips to Vancouver:
Gwen and I have been on trips to Vancouver. She would drive down to see Michelle, Craig, Sydney and Abby.
And I would visit with my friend Karin.
On one of these trips we went to Williams Park in Langly. The Park is named after my great grandparents.
And as it turned out Gwen grew up with cousins of Mine that I had never met. So got to see the Park, meet my cousins, see where my cousins grew up, the school that the Rae sisters and my cousins went to, and the Church where they all were in CGCI together.
For a few years Don and I golfed with the Hockey crew. So again, that is spending time with Mike and Gwen.
I enjoyed being on either of their teams.
Even a few trips to the Casino. Gwen was quite lucky at winning. Would not stay long….she was smarter than Me ! 🙂
Dinners at Gwen’s
I was always so happy to be invited to Gwen’s for a family dinner. Always delicious and the company was rewarding.
My one regret is that I never did have a full “Jenkins” family dinner at my house before I moved back to Prince George.
I did , however, enjoy the company of Gwen and Gail.
I have many great memories with Gwen.
Crisp fresh fallen snow as I step outside.
He watched her last breaths.
Dad greets me at mom’s door.
There are beautiful butterflies on the door. (This is hospice’s symbol that the room is not to be disturbed).
We step through the door.
Mom is warm and quiet.
She is wearing a shirt with butterflies on it. (I think I need to lie down with all these symbols of snow and butterflies!)
Death has come to her body.
Thursday, December 26th, 2013 at 7:00am.
Kisses, kisses and more kisses.
I lay my head in her arm in disbelief.
I lap up her presence.
I am enveloped by her love.
Tears slide down my cheeks.
My sister arrives.
We walk to the hospice living room.
M reads Psalm 23.
Dad talks about his sorrow and gratitude.
The boys arrive to an empty room.
A red rose is on the counter.
We say our goodbyes.
On the memory Christmas tree we write Nana’s name and we take an angel home for our tree.
Then we lace up our skates and head out into the outdoors that Nana loved dearly.
I love you mama!
We have been very fortunate to have met incredible nurses, care aids, patients and families at hospice.
I have felt a particular affinity to C, D and M.
M is across the hall from mom and is a light and lovely soul also battling cancer. We think she may have also been in the chemo room the first time mom had her chemotherapy.
C is just here to help get his pain under control. He has asbestos in his lungs from working in an asbestos-lined building for many years. Did you know that hospice is a place to get help for pain relief not just a beautiful place to die?
Then, we end with D and his family. D is a fellow teacher, nature lover and suffering valiantly with ALS. I have felt depth and love from his daughter A and she has helped me tremendously through this by sharing her story and her life.
This afternoon D, his wife and his three girls blessed us with their singing. It was a lay down on the ground kind of moment.
Glory to God for the gifts He gives each of us. We are so incredibly unique and beautifully made.