This International Women's Day, I'm remembering my mother. I've been thinking about my mom a fair bit lately. She's been gone for many years, yet her spirit lives on in me and speaks to me almost daily.
She was a strong one, that woman. Of Polish descent, with a calm nature, she was kind and gentle and rarely raised her voice at the chaos that occurred with five children underfoot. She'd lift one eyebrow or stop whatever she was doing to look directly at us for a second, which was usually enough to settle us down and remind us to do what we were supposed to be doing at that moment.
My mom was a hard worker and went about her daily chores with grace and a strength that inspired others. She volunteered in the community and for her church. She sang and laughed. She joked and routinely made up new words and sounds. As a child, she created "soap opera" stories for her siblings, with them as main characters, while they walked along looking for the cows on their farm. I owe my love of language and creativity to my mother.
In her later years, Mom commented on how she enjoyed being a farmer herself. Although I saw that she loved plants and nature, it was only in rereading parts of a family history book that I had renewed insight into her love of farming. My mom wrote that after teaching for a few years in various districts in central Alberta (before she had any children of her own), she took two courses from Queen's University by correspondence, which she worked on during the weekends. "After passing the exams, I was given my 'Permanent Standard E Certificate. I secretly wished I would never need to use it, for I was much happier being a farm wife. I preferred the hard work on the farm to the stress of teaching," she wrote.
Hmmm... I had never considered that any woman in my family would want to stay on the farm rather than do something that was less strenuous. My dad and brother were fine with a life on the farm. But it was a surprise of sorts to learn that Mom was happiest there too. I and my three sisters were certainly not cut from that same cloth.
A while ago, I was thinking about my childhood days of picking berries with my mom. Those were sweet moments, not just because we could eat our fill of the delicious fruits, but because we were spending time with our mom. Many times, Mom went out picking berries on her own. This led me to write this poem, an ode to my mother...
Thanks, Mom. For everything.