Picture perfect memories

Shortly after returning from my grandmother’s funerals, I received news that a wonderful woman, a woman I called “Mom #2” most of my life was terminally ill. I turned around and travelled back to my family to spend time with her. This woman… is the picture perfect of the wife, mother, friend and neighbour that one can hope to become. I know many of you think you know people like her, but I have never, in my life, heard anyone speak about a woman the way everyone around speaks of her.

She was my age when she married a hard-working man from a neighbouring town. Even then she was head strong and told him that regardless of tradition, she had no intention of changing her political inclination for her husbands’. They may not have agreed, but her husband soon found out there was no point arguing with her on that matter, she was a strong woman! They had four beautiful children together, one of which was a girl, I called her my sister, who had a severe physical and mental disability. Mom #2 spent all of her time at home from that moment on and took care of my sister.

It was shortly after that that my mother (the 1st one) got employed by Mom#2 to help out with my sister. I was not even a thought at the time, my parents were not married, their 3 boys were still in school. My mom would help keep an eye on my sister as well as help out with cleaning and cooking. There was a lot to be done. Mom #2 and my own mom grew close.

When my parents got married, it is partly thanks to Mom #2 that they were able to rent out the neighbouring house. This home is where I would grow up. That is where my mom would spend her 9 months of pregnancy, with Dad #2 always worrying that my mom would take cold as she was barely able to close her coat. Their home would be my dad’s first stop returning from the hospital after my birth. He was supposed to stop home to get clothes and shower, but first, he stopped by mom and dad #2’s home to announce that my mother had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Mom#2 has described to me many times the look on my dad’s face when explaining to them my face, my feet, my hands… My dad was a proud dad!

When my parents divorced 6 months later, it was mom #2 who comforted my mother and told her to be kind to my dad. She told my mother to accept his homosexuality for my sake. Because, as she said, God made him this way!

Mom #2 played such an important role in my life, and I could never in any one article ever do her justice. She fed me when I was hungry, she hid me when I was playing hide and seek from my mother (my mom didn’t always know we were playing), she gave me to drink, she held me, hugged me, listened to me and watched countless hours of “pestacles” (spectacles in kid-speak) in her living room. She made me bread, her bread, the only bread in the world which can magically heal hearts and raise spirits. Her home always smelled of fresh homemade bread. Even after my mother and I changed home, we spent every Sunday, after church, with mom & dad#2 and their family. Their children became my uncles (it doesn’t have to make sense when you’re a child) and their grandchildren became my cousins.

My sister passed away when I was 12. I remember my mother picking me up from school with their middle boy. We spent an hour on my sister’s dead bed, praying. I couldn’t cry. I didn’t seem to know how to cry. I remember returning to school and burrying myself in books. The first book I read was about unicorns, my sister had a unicorn windchime in her room; from then on I started literally a unicorn obsession. My first tattoo at 17, was a unicorn. My obsession with unicorn diminished after that: I had my unicorn with me at all times. I did not have to worry.

Mom & dad #2 went on living. Mom #2 became heavily involved with her grandchildren and me. I would go have lunch with my friends at their home during my school lunch breaks. Everyone was always welcome in their home, and everyone was served bread and water and other comfort foods if they had some.

I moved away in 2002 to live with my father. I know this was hard on mom & dad #2, to see me leave my mother’s home. My mom understood what was happening but I don’t think anyone else could understand. Regardless, I never missed a chance to see them each time I visited my hometown. They met each and every boy I dated and each boy was heavily warned that mom & dad #2’s opinion of them could make or break our relationships.

When I graduated high school in 2006, few people came to see me: my paternal grand-mother and paternal uncle, my mother’s younger sister… and mom#2 and her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren. Mom #2 even insisted on paying for the fabric of my prom dress.

Few weeks ago, I was told Mom #2 was terminally ill. I didn’t think for a moment, and went to see her, 14 hours away in my hometown. I had a chance to talk with her and say my goodbyes. She even ask me to forgive her for having been mad at me initially after I moved away. There was nothing to forgive, I never resented her for it. Today was her funeral, and as a tribute to her, I wanted to find all of the pictures from the numerous memories I have of her and post them onto this page. To my surprise, I could only find one picture of her, and I was not on it. This woman has defined me as a woman, as the friend, wife and mother I want to become. She has inspired me and helped me grow. few pictures of her remain but to me, she will always be picture perfect in my memories.

From God we become and to Him is our return.

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