January 6, 1924 to April 9, 2002
My Mom was raised on a ranch in Southern Alberta.
She was the only daughter of Ellen and Petrus Berg.
And only sister to eight brothers.
She thrived on their ranch.
Then she married my Dad.
And moved to the Stringam Ranch.
Where she continued to thrive.
Even with feeding ranch hands.
Having six babies.
Cleaning, gardening, cooking, baking, sewing, driving, preserving, chore-ing, wife-ing, mother-ing.
And everything in between.
She was a marvel of ingenuity.
A tower of strength.
And a fountain of energy.
And then, after she had raised her kids and was finally ready to relax and realize her fondest dream – to spend her time writing – she got sick.
The same disease that finally claimed her father's life.
She was devastated.
But only for a while.
With her usual grit, determination and courage, she started a Parkinson's work-out group.
And a Parkinson's support group.
Which she continued to shepherd while her disease slowly overtook her.
Finally, as her condition deepened, hospitalization was required.
And she was forced to let go.
Dad placed her in a care facility in Taber, Alberta.
The finest he could find.
Then he took an apartment a block away so he could be with her every day.
Because dinner together at the end of the day was a family tradition.
And he wasn't about to let something as paltry as Parkinson's disturb that.
For several years, they continued in this manner.
Mom, slowly slipping away.
The staff of the home watching over them both.
Then, one day, Mom refused to eat.
And shortly after that, slipped quietly into a coma.
Slowly, the family gathered to say our final 'See you soon!'.
We stood beside her bed and clasped her hand.
Held her and held each other.
Then, as always happens in the Stringam family, as the minutes ticked by, we started telling stories.
Something Mom loved.
And, as though that was the signal she had been waiting for, Mom slipped away.
Leaving us with her sweet memory.
There is an addendum:
Dad had chosen the best care for his beloved that he could find.
And he had done well.
The people in the home were kind and attentive to Mom.
Carefully caring for her every need.
Right up until the last.
Even as she lay in a coma, and everyone knew the inevitable outcome, they made sure of her comfort.
Lying in her bed, Mom had rubbed a small sore on her heel.
Her caregiver said, “Well, that can't be comfortable. Let's fix it.”
And she proceeded to place a small, round band-aid on the aged heel.
This was a woman in a coma.
Seemingly oblivious to everything and everyone around her.
And yet, her care-givers were concerned for her comfort.
Later, when my sisters and I were dressing her for her funeral, we noticed that little band-aid.
We left it.
A symbol of the love and care we all felt for our mother.
It's been ten years today since Mom left us.
We miss her.
Thinking of you, Mom.