Just Me and My Mom!


Sometimes I find myself looking at pictures of my Mom and I stare into those blue eyes. The years made her eyes change shape some, but not the colour. Before Mom passed away this January 1st she didn’t have much hair remaining. But her eyes stayed the bluest of light blue. I didn’t get my mother’s eyes. Mine are of a darker hue, but no matter the colour I got her ability to shed tears!

I have great memories of Mom. I needed to write some to help me not forget. One of the funny ones we kids sometimes mention is when we see our childhood pics, Our haircuts, the ones she gave to us kids were not good at all. Yes, we laugh as we see the crooked odd shaped cuts. I think she practiced on us kids before trying out to be a hairdressing helper! That job didn’t seem to last long!

I also remember Mom at the swimming pool. In my young days we camped a lot and the criteria of a good campground for us was a place for swimming. And once in every while she would join in the pool too. What I picture in my mind now is an attractive woman who could really make the backstroke seem like an event! My Dad was often the limelight in the family, performing on stage. Yet in the pool Mom wanted the world to notice how much white water splash she could create? There she was kicking with gusto doing the backstroke and the mighty splash made by her legs got all our intention.

Then there were times when we would be in the car for long drives. Every drive in those days seemed like non-ending. Mom knew how to keep the peace between us three children; yep, we would need comic books. We had comic book after comic book. Boxes of comics. I read everything from Donald Duck to Goofy to Captain America to Mad magazine. My ultimate favourite was always the Incredible Hulk. One day I wanted green muscles too! Dad and Mom always sat in adult-like in the front. Sometimes we kids would each sing a song for them, like Canadian Idol or something, and they would judge our voices. I lost most of the sing-offs usually. Gerald, my little brother, would win even over the talented baby of the family, with a gravely rendition of Jeremiah was a Bullfrog. To hear him sing it would make them and my sister and I laugh out loud.

I smile now at some of the memories of those growing up times. Christmas was magical at our place. We sometimes sang in front of the tree too. We had Black Peter to talk about (Dutch custom). My dad finally ruined my belief in Santa for me when at the table he said, “Shhh listen, you hear that sound? It must be Santa coming down the chimney!” I am sure I saw fingers tapping on the table, his fingers. That’s when I knew that the gifts had to be bought. I sometimes went looking and inadvertently found some of them before ‘the day!’ No matter, I loved the Christmas gifts, all of them, especially the New York Ranger Jersey, and the goalie glove. That reminds me of all the driving Mom did in those days, to youth group and to those awful early morning hockey practices. And then if I close my eyes and imagine, I think I can hear her loud voice shouting from the stands every time I would touch the puck, which wasn’t often!

I could go on and on, but you’d stop reading.

Before Mom passed away I wrote her some of my memories of her and my proud feelings of being her son. She was on her hospital bed in the living room of our farmhouse when I said, “Mom, I want to read this thing I wrote to you.” It didn’t take long for her light blue eyes to shed tears and of course my dark blue eyes followed suit. I read it out loud to her because I wanted her to never forget how she impacted our lives. I was proud of the whole life she lived. It must be such a battle when our health fails to feel lost and of little use (read useless). Admittedly it was hard for me to see Mom, a proud woman, loose her health,  her quick wit and her laugh. It was still Mom in that bed, but it was not Mom at her best. My memories of her are more of Mom at her best and they comfort me even if I remember the pain of the last months of Mom’s life.

I miss Mom. I saw the obituary today wrote by my brother and printed in the local paper, I IMG_0578was so sad for a moment. I stared into that picture of Mom. I saw those big blue eyes stare back at me. The picture you see here was the last solo pic I took of Mom. Do you see those eyes shining? I do. If eyes could talk and I know they do, her eyes would say, “I love you Peter!” (Sometimes she would say, I Love you boy!) I can hear her voice shouting that from heaven’s stands. That’s why I am going to look at my photos again and again, to hear those words to her boy and remember.

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The Storm Called Dying


My Dad has always been one strong man. I can hardly ever remember him being sick! On the top of his game he seemed to have an answer for most things, even if his answer wasseed-podn’t quite right! Now at the age of 78 he still can be found out in the garden in spring or piling wood in the cold fall for the wood stove. Yet I’ve seen a softening, perhaps a tiredness in his bones. He cries. He is at a loss for words. I would be too. His wife, my Mom, once a real beauty, is losing life slowly from the ravages of cancer. Today they took Mom out of her home of 40 years and put her into a hospice.

I was there this past September for Mom’s 75th birthday. We actually tried to light all 75 candles, give or take a few. The cake looked like an inferno as we sang her birthday song a little quicker than usual! It was a precious moment. The moment I will cherish most, though, was the night I said my deepest goodbye, I held mom in my arms and wept, wept like a baby. I knew she was not getting by this storm, not this time.

People go through storms all the time. Some are deadly! A few days ago an Air Asia plane with 162 people on board flew through what was thought to be a storm-filled cloud. They wanted to ascend higher but permission was denied by the air traffic control tower. The plane disappeared soon after. I’ve flown on countless Air Asia flights, I cannot imagine how frightening it was to the passengers to feel a powerful storm rock their plane. My heartbeat quickens when turbulence barely lifts the plane in that jumpy up and down motion. The only mercy for the people on board of that Air Asia flight was that the storm would not last long. For all the relatives and friends unfortunately the ‘sad winds’ won’t taper off for awhile. I don’t think this was the ‘will’ of God to take that plane down. I know so. It’s just weather patterns and human decisions and untimely happenstance.

Yet I have toyed with this idea of the ‘Allowing’ of God. Seriously, God does allow a lot of awful stuff to happen on this planet! So it makes sense that God allows us to go through storms for reasons beyond our comprehension. Can we bypass a lot of the storms that life throws at us or that we bring upon ourselves? Probably, but not all. Do they always make us stronger or simply prove that we have weak shallow roots? Only we can answer that one for ourselves.

Oswald Chambers says, “The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside?” The question at the end of the quote was meant to be a warning, but strikes me as somewhat shocking.Jesus talked a lot about seeds, including the mustard seed, and once said that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it cannot produce anything anymore. How sad it would be to have lived out life and at the end of it have nothing inside, nothing to release into the final wind. What exactly is the DNA of our seed we need inside of us, that when planted in the ground will produce more seeds and bring forth yet more beauty on the earth? Could it be the smallest seed called the mustard seed of faith?

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I sit here in my thoughts and wish that this slow unrelenting storm called death was shorter for my Mom and for my tired Dad. I hate to see my Mom unable to respond with her mind or with her swollen legs to life’s needs and challenges. I hate to see Dad frail with caring each day and night, for the love of his life. I know, however, enough about seed planting and how the pod dries up and cracks open to release new life and the winds serve in blowing these seeds to new places. For me, Mom and Dad, helped to inspire a faith in us kids. Mom planted seeds, man! I had faith in the goodness of God to get me through to where I needed to be, to grow, to be fruitful. Their faithfulness was an example to me in Asia and now Europe.

Wherever you may be now, whatever you are going through, and I do know there are people feeling the blowing storms even now and it doesn’t take much to cause tears to drop for you. I want to encourage you to have even the tiniest tad-wee faith in your life-whirlwind. His eye can see you there where you are and He will see you through somehow! You’ll also be one of those saints planted by God right where you need to be! And when the final storm comes upon you, you will have given the world something to thank the God above about.