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!
Only a beautiful hi from mom this morning.
Down the path.
Packed her bags.
My Spirit sits with my mom.
I sit with my mom.
The scarf she knit around my neck.
My tear catcher and prayer shawl.
My Sexy Neck, my boys, my dad, my sister, C, Rea, Jamie, Marnie and Ron at my side.
Waiting to see how this journey will be.
Knowing your love is holding us up.
Knowing mom is our guide.
She will do it her beautiful, thoughtful way.
Thank you world.
Thank you peeps.
Thank you for holding us close.
Thank you to my beautiful mom for letting me journey with her.
This is such an honour and privilege to be at her side.
I LOVE YOU MOM!
Happy Friday the 20th day of advent.
Today, we celebrate mom telling me to stop reassuring her (with an “I’m sorry honey!” at the end) and mom asking me to sit down when I jumped up to adjust her leg pillows.
Thank you for holding us all up.
Thank you for the nighttime messages. They got us through.
Words. Thoughts. Prayers. They do make a difference.
There is an unseen world we are walking in through mom’s sacred journey.
I am honoured to be with her.
I know ‘O Wen’ is too!
I am overjoyed she just told me to sit down.
That drive between the new city and our old town is truly spectacular.
i can see deep blue green lakes and mountains near and far.
the purple sky, blue skies, the red skies, orange skies.
the orchards, the trees, the snow on the mountaintops.
BUT my soul is filled with anguish as I leave my mom, as I drive back to my ‘new’ life.
BUT my heart is with my mama, my mama in pain, my mama lying, my mama sick and unable to live her life.
My mama My mama My mama.
Life is such a dichotomy – beauty is all around me in all of God’s creation. I am amazed by the nature that I see surrounding me as I drive.
BUT my heart aches, my heart is broken, tears fall, big huge crocodile tears fall down my cheeks
BUT I pray and I hope and I sit in my pain in the presence of God’s beautiful creation amidst the pain.
Mom was in so much pain today that she couldn’t be touched. All she could handle was a quick kiss on the cheek by the boys. I gave her a kiss on the forehead and it was like I could feel the pain emanating from your body.
Mom is climbing a huge mountain this week. This is probably one comparable to her first week in the hospital. We are at the very least in the same formidable mountain range. We are hoping to head down into the valley for a rest soon. Soon. When? No one knows.
This mountain involves nausea (oh how she hates getting sick!), pain in her lower abdomen, inability to eat or drink much. Mom went in on Wednesday to the cancer clinic to get a couple of bags of IV fluid.
Mom is now in the hospital again, hopefully just for the day. She is getting great treatment in the ER – more fluids and good ol’ morphine.
Update: mom went home at 4pm after two bags of fluid. Still nauseous though.
Climb your own mountain today. You can do it one step at a time. Trust God. Look for Him. He loves us all.
Here’s my new favourite mountain in Ktown and my peeps who have made the trek up in the last few weeks.
A little boy injecting life and bring out smiles.