Rita Barr 12/28/1915-27/07/2010 Last picture: 13/07/2010
Thanksgiving weekend. What an appropriate time for gathering to
celebrate and give thanks for Mom. Thank you for coming
I am slowing making the necessary adjustments in my life.… Over the past 10 years Mom and I walked about 3000 miles together. We always walked arm in arm... Now for the second time in my life,…I've had to learn to walk on my own.
I have also had to learn to drive without Mom's help.... I had to relearn the red light means stop and the green light means go…. Mom was always able to tell me to go,…before I could move my foot from the brake to the accelerator…. I remember one winter day when there was a bit of snow on my driveway,...I didn't make it up the 30' incline to the flat area at the top. I said something like, "Oh oh, we're not going to make it"; but before I could say "I'll have to let the van slide down and try again", Mom said, "Just let the van slide down and try again."
I am not making as much progress with the house work…. I only manage to do the dishes once a day. It was Mom's job to make sure the dishes were washed and put away after every meal….And I haven't been making my bed every day either. It was Mom's job....to remind her 63 year old son to make his bed.
The adjustments continue.
I would like to thank Uncle Doug for sharing family memories of early years with Mom…. She didn't have many left.
Typical of kids, I didn't notice Mom until I was 12 years old and began delivering the Globe and Mail;…and then it was only because she woke me up every morning for the next 6 years…. On the coldest and rainiest days Mom drove me around my route…. I can't recall how many times during the eight years I practiced,…that Mom sat beside me on the piano bench…. Just one other memory rises above remembering Mom dedicated her life to us. After telling Mom I didn't make the university football team, she asked,..."Do you want me to phone the coach and tell him how really good you are?"
The second time I grew up I paid attention.
The garden we created is a living memory.
I will remember the 3000 games of scrabble we played.… Mom enjoyed winning but always felt sorry for me....when I lost.
Then there are the 2000 games of solitaire I watched Mom play…. She enjoyed beating the computer.
Also among my memories….are the hundreds of trips we made to the farmers market on Sundays. Mom most enjoyed wandering by the tables of pastries like she used to eat before she came to live with me…. It was special for her because I always bought something she liked, then we would find a place in the sun to eat it;…and I would repent.
I can't forget all the meals we prepared together. Mom stirred the porridge every morning, made the coleslaw at noon and cut or chopped everything I needed for supper….except onions…. We always did the dishes after every meal.
Then there was all the time we spent sitting on the bench by the window in our entrance.… We watched the rain and snow fall,…looked at the garden,…planned our chores,…chatted,…generally watched the world go by and time pass…. Occasionally,…we cried over diminished life.
I'll really remember our hugs. They were special. Mom was not a hugger but I was determined to give Mom several hugs a day whether or not she needed them.... I would put my arms around her and urge her to hug me. Sometimes she would…and fairly often….after she had had enough hug time,…usually about 5 seconds,… Mom would grab the skin on either side of my chest and squeeze until I cried for mercy…. But I never quit hugging her,…even though the thought of the next big squeeze made me nervous.
We did have some conflict as well. One of our battlegrounds was the fridge…. When I was growing up Mom bought enough food for seven for a week. On Fridays it was always a coin toss if the fridge door would shut…. I shopped for two and can't organize more than three days ahead…. When Mom first moved in with me she would open the fridge and ask, "Where is the food?".... When I put things in the fridge I'd leave them at the front of the shelves. The first chance Mom got,...she moved everything to the back….I'd ask, "What are you doing?" and she would reply,…"Just making room."
Another battleground was the scrabble board. At least once a week Mom would pick out her seven tiles and then try to put some back. I would say, "You can't put your letters back. You have to play what you pick." and Mom would shoot back, "I can't make a word with four "I's"."… At least once a game we would fight over the score keeping….Keeping score was my job… but often as I was beginning to use the fingers on my second hand,…Mom would finish adding up the score in her head. I never said a word. I just stared at her over my glasses until she reacted. She always laughed and said, "You… are… so… slow."…. We never resolved these conflicts.
Dominating memories of the last 10 years is the laughter we shared,…especially when it was sparked by something Mom said;…and that was quite often because as I discovered in our second life together, she had an acute sense of humour…. I remember the time we were going to buy ice cream cones and I asked Mom for my allowance…. She pulled a 5 dollar bill from her purse that had seen better days,… and as Mom handed it to me she said, "It is just like me,…old and wrinkled."
Most recently while Mom and I were getting our hair cuts, she was finished and sitting on a bench when a mountie big enough to fill the doorway walked in. Before he could say a word Mom asked, "Are you here to arrest someone?"…. "You", he replied…. "Just try it", Mom dared…. "I don't think I will.", he said, adding to the laughter.
I will remember Mom laughing the hardest,…the longest….and most often at our cat Zola…. Every night while I set up the computer so Mom could play solitaire,…Zola stretched out on the bed and looked back at Mom…. Mom would grab Zola's tail and drag her across the bed while she tried to crawl away.…When Mom let go, Zola shot to the edge of the bed where she waited for Mom to grab her tail …and pull her across the bed again….This went on for about 5 minutes and Mom laughed heartily the entire time. Because she avoided us until the next night,…I think Zola played just to hear Mom laugh. I know I did. I appreciated her help.
My final memories are from Mom's last three days.… After a good day, Saturday evening Mom said, "I'm not feeling well."…. Sunday morning she said, I feel wretched."…. At the clinic….during tests Mom said, "The old grey mare she ain't what she used to be."…. Tuesday afternoon while she was out of bed for the last time,…. Mom tried to pick up a kleenex she had dropped. As she sat on the bed before laying down for the last time… Mom looked at me and repeated a comment she had made many times before. "I didn't think I would end up this way." At about 5 in the afternoon Mom said, "I am tired…. I want to go to sleep…. Get me my pyjamas."
Those were Mom's last words;…but I hope they were not her last thoughts. Even after the oxygen,…IV and drainage tubes were removed,…Mom slept for 6 hours…. Because she was sleeping I couldn't give her ice chips,…so to moisten Mom's mouth the nurse gave me several packages of what looked like large Q-tips,… saturated with a fruit flavoured liquid. There was cherry,...Mom's favourite,…strawberry, raspberry and a couple others….
Now in all the years I lived with Mom….I never heard her mention "heaven";...but knowing her,…I suspect she would have agreed that her idea of heaven…was a table of desserts…that stretched from here to eternity…. So every time I moistened Mom's mouth with one of the Q-Tips,…and I used them all,…I was hoping Mom was thinking,…"I'm dying and going to heaven."