My mom (Mary Eileen Teresa Wood – Gillette) passed away today (Saturday May 11) at St. Joseph’s Villa in her home town of Cornwall Ontario. She is survived by her children Alfred (Me), Paul, Nelson and Karen. Her golden years were taken from her by an insidious disease called Alzheimer’s. She lived her life for others, giving even when she had nothing left to give. Her life was an example of the things that the rest of us strive to achieve. Her life was not easy as the oldest daughter of a family of nine. She attended an all girls primary school and then CCVS high school where she met my Dad.
Post recession times were tough and it was not uncommon for students to have to work to help their families. Both my mother and father had to drop out of high school to support their families and it was not long after that they decided to get married. My dad’s father owned a building where my mother and father lived in an apartment until they could afford to build our family home. My mother was a book keeper and my father an upholsterer by trade. My mother gave up her job when I was born and stayed at home to raise four children. It was the 60’s and 70’s and the baby boomer generation was changing the world. My mother gave up her education and much of her life for her children and she just kept on giving long after we were gone.
My mother was part of the local theater community, sang in the church choir, was an elder at the church, participated in every church function, visited people at retirement homes and worked until she could no longer focus on her job. She was my first teacher and she is largely responsible for what I have become. She taught me the value of honesty and equality encouraging me when I did good and supporting me when I failed. People say that I am fearless when it comes to challenges and that is a direct result of her teaching. As a family, we struggled to get by but my mother never gave up.
My mom was not only my mother, but the surrogate mother for all of my friends. Our house was the place where everyone gathered. She watched and listened and brought out the best in all of us. She could see the bad but she encouraged the good and we are all better people as a result. I would like to think that she was granted early access to the after life as a result of her excellent work and that last years of her life were what was left behind. The world will be a darker place without her in it, so we all have to step up to compensate.
I am sad today, but I am also relieved that she will not longer have to suffer. I feel like the torch has been passed and that I and others like me are now responsible for making this world a better place.