I once asked my mom why I got the unusual name in our family. And why didn't she spell it with two 'ee's - as in Deena - so people would pronounce it correctly?
"I was going to call you Mayris," she said. (Pronounced My-riss.)
"Umm... Deana is good," I replied. "Thanks, Mom."
My mom was a creative person with a crazy sense of humour. She loved to tease and invent stories, and I am thankful that she passed this gift of creativity on to me. She encouraged me at a young age to not take life or myself too seriously, but to work hard at what I do. I learned many things from Mom, including how to sew and embroider, write and create, laugh and tell stories, tease and love. She encouraged in me a strong faith and a desire to share what I have learned, to teach and help others.
My mom passed away in July 2011 of inoperable pancreatic and liver cancer, just a few weeks after we launched my book Never Leave Your Wingman - the true story of a seven-time cancer survivor in Regina, Saskatchewan who dances her way into her chemo sessions dressed in costume with her wingman husband. Dionne Warner's beautiful story of hope and love helped me and my family get through that very difficult time of my mom's illness.
I still had two chapters left to write of the book when I received a call that my mom had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. We visited her in an Edmonton hospital the following day and I was able to show my mom and siblings the photos of the beautiful, exuberant Dionne and her fun-loving husband Graham dressed as cowpokes, pirates, rock stars and much more as they faced Dionne's cancer treatments head-on with laughter and hope. Their joy took some of the fear out of Mom's cancer diagnosis for us. We saw it more as a part of life and something that we all now had to face together as a family.
I had numerous telephone conversations with my mom in the following months as she became progressively sicker. She asked about complementary treatments that Dionne had taken and she visited a practitioner who gave her hope.
The oncologist initially told Mom she had six months to live. My mom honestly responded with: "I'd be surprised if it was that long." She died peacefully three months later.
Mom was ready to go, but we weren't ready to say goodbye. We will always miss her, but we will also always carry a large piece of her in our hearts and in our actions.
I will never know if my mom was joking when she told me about the Mayris name, but it doesn't really matter. I will think of the smirk on her face as she told me all these silly stories, and the love in her eyes as she taught me all she knew.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone.