Thursday, October 29, 2015

To my dear June Cleaver...

Dear Mum,

It’s been over a week and a half since I told you I loved you for the last time. I said it every time we spoke just in case it would be the last, and here it is. It was the last time I told you how much you mean to me.

I have to confess this is the second time I have written this eulogy. The first was very stoic and it chronicled your virtues like a resume. There’s no denying that you were one classy lady. You even invented words for bodily functions that will haunt me to this day. You were always dressed impeccably and told me to never leave the house without lipstick. Your sense of humour never aligned with mine, and that was okay because I lived to shock you. I wore fake nose rings and spoke aloud the jokes you always wanted to tell but wouldn’t because it didn’t suit you. I was the why child, the one who always questioned the rules. What I didn’t question was your overwhelming love for me. And for Don, Dad, Loretta, Emily and Ryan. You had our best interests at heart. Always.

You were a worrier. Over minute details that would not matter minutes, hours or years later. You worried because you cared. And judging from the outpouring of support our family has received since you left, you have cared and worried for many. You also didn’t want to put people out, even when you had chemo appointments. You worried that you were a burden. You weren’t. Your friends, Don and I, we wanted to do these things for you because you were there for us, but most importantly, because we loved you and always will.

I was so proud when you rang that bell at your final chemo treatment, and prouder still at your resilience despite the hurdles, the bad days and when you wished Dad were still here but knew he wasn’t, at least not in the physical form.

I didn’t tell you this before but a week after Dad died, he visited me – to wake me up before my alarm. The same thing happened with you. Two days after we last said goodbye, I was sleeping in the basement at your house with Kao (and yes, he was on the mat on the floor and not on the bed). Five minutes before my alarm was set to go off, I heard a knock at the door – just the way you used to when you knew I was going to sleep in. I called out your name, opened my eyes and realized that hearing the knock was impossible because I was alone in the house. But I wasn’t, because I knew you were watching over me. Both of you are – Dad, my cheerleader and you, my lipstick-wearing conscience.

I’m going to leave you with a list of things I will miss about you. It’s not a complete list because there are so many moments and memories.

  • Your care packages of toilet paper, oatmeal and deodorant. How did you always know I was running low?
  • Your insistence of a Christmas list and your aversion to gift cards.
  • Watching you wave enthusiastically as we pulled out of your driveway after every visit.
  • Seeing you in the kitchen watching out for my car upon my arrival.
  • Your constant reminders about oil changes, tire rotations and to drive or walk carefully wherever I went.
  • Telling the story of how you would call four times during a half-hour walk to your house and then seeing your car slowly drive down the street looking for me because the streetlights had just come on. I was 35.
  • You yelling and cheering at our sports event, whether it was at Ryan’s baseball games and rowing meets, Emily’s hockey or baseball games, or seeing you running along the bank of the Grand River cheering my dragon boating team. My teammates could hear you.
  • Referring to you as June Cleaver because you wore housekeeping clothes and saved the good clothes for Dad coming home from work.
  • You tugging at my hair trying to convince me to cut it short – just like you.
  • Comparing my smile to yours and realizing they are one and the same because I come from you.
  •  Asking question upon question about your life and you bestowing me the stories so that I would eventually become the keeper of the family secrets.
  • I’ll miss the days before cellphones and the roll of quarters you insisted I carry when I was out and you wanted my report on where I was, where I was going and what time I’d be home.
  • I will miss talking to you every day and telling you that I love you, sometimes three times in one conversation because I just didn’t want to miss another chance.

I will love and miss you forever, June Cleaver. And I will always remember to apply lipstick before I leave the house.

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