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Saying goodbye to my mother

Marilyn Ann Powell

Marilyn Ann Powell

My earliest memories of my mother, Marilyn, are when I was three or four and my parents and I were living in a basement apartment in Saint John. We would later move to a little village an hour’s drive away, to be with my grandparents, but in Saint John my mother was naturally the centre of my universe, and I still remember how she helped build up my love for things that would always be important to me. She was nurturing and caring, and she loved her family and friends deeply.

Two weeks ago today, my mother passed away, and while the days are getting a little easier, it’s still hard to really and truly understand that she’s gone. I often find myself remembering her from the most random things, and these moments bring back all kinds of memories. I’m reminded of trips, and favorite foods, and things that she would do for me when I was growing up. It’s nice being reminded of each little moment, but it’s hard too, and sometimes I don’t even understand why I’m dwelling on the memory.

To this day I still have a Spider-Man camera that she bought me, and I keep thinking of it because, in some ways, I’m sure it started my love of photography early on.

Back in February my mother was hit with sudden and unexpected health issues. One day I was calling her and catching up, and the next she had suffered a heart attack and they weren’t sure if she was going to make it.

I flew home to be with her that day, and we were fortunate that she recovered, but after that she was never the same. She didn’t want to talk much, and she was often distressed. The doctors diagnosed her with delirium, a syndrome that may have been developing for years, and as with most cases, they suggested that she would never fully recover. It was heart-breaking and surreal, and while there were wonderful moments with her now and then in the days ahead, they were always brief, and too few and far between.

Near the end, my father and I spent our days with her in the hospital, when we were only just starting to accept that she didn’t have much time left, and it just got harder and harder each day. We could see that we were losing her, but we got some precious few moments with her where it felt like we could reach her at the very least. We held her hands. We talked. I told her stories that maybe she didn’t know, or maybe she wouldn’t remember.

I’m left now with her memories, which brighten the days. When I think of her, I remember her infectious laugh, her concern for things like the environment and her family’s well-being, and how much she loved. She had a big heart. She cared too much at times, and her home was always a part of her.

All of this is a bit hard to share, but I wanted to make an effort to write about my mother. I try not to get too heavy on The GATE, but this is different of course. I also wanted to acknowledge that July was obviously a hard month. There’s a bit of time to take vacation coming up this week, but I’m getting back to work too, and I have to thank everyone who has helped me.

There are too many people to mention, but naturally I have to thank my father, Bill; my wife, Aisha, our daughter, and our family, Irene, Alana, and Matt; all of our friends and family in New Brunswick, particularly though Peter and Pamela, Heather, Barb, Gwen, Pastor Trail, and Bill’s wonderful church; and all of the publicists who sent flowers, cards, and notes.

Most importantly, remember what’s important in life and cherish every moment with your family and friends. We don’t have forever, and sometimes we lose the ones we love far sooner than seems fair.

Thanks, Maw, for taking care of me, and for all the love.

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