There was always a warm and thoughtful smile upon her face. Her voice was calm and low. When that voice was raised, you know that you have tugged at a very patient woman and you have crossed a line. When that voice was raised, I could sometimes imagine the very earth may have trembled in fear of her anger.
She was a like the ocean. Her calm was a serene place, her gentle a lure to those around her, and yet, her anger was known to keep grown men far from shore.
She was not perfect, not a soul is. But she gave me everything. The world was mine and if she could have given me everything on a silver platter she would have. Instead she gave us something of much more value.
She gave us a place to rest our heads each night, a home hat felt safe and secure. She worked, from morning to evening, to put food on our plate every day. She didn’t work a 9-5. Oh no, not her. Her spirit was to wild, to magical for that. She worked to survive and to keep her children alive.
Every summer the farm was vibrant and every available corner was full of flowers. Animals chattered away noisily and a garden, so big and magical, filled our bellies each day the sun shone and snow did not lie on the ground.
She was not perfect. Some days she could not get out of bed and I remember my big sister would try to feed us. But she pulled through, always, on her own, hidden from the world. Just her and us.
She was like the shore, constantly battered by the ocean, anger and unkindness, judgement and closed mindedness pummelled her, in a place where allies were few and a wild, passionate soul could not be fathomed. But she was strong, and never gave. Sometimes she would lose a peace of herself, I think, but she always came through, changed but just as beautiful.
I remember every morning I would have a glass of fresh, cold goats milk, that she had milked and strained late at night, when her children were safely tucked in bed.
Our days were filled with laughter and simple luxurious and always that gentle smile.
The long and cold winters, with frozen lashes and ice crystals in her hair, she would pack warm buckets of water out for the eight horses, twenty goats, three sheep, and well over a hundred chickens, twice a day. We did not have a water system that did not freeze. The farm yard was a long walk in -40 with bucket after bucket of water. Our animals were never without, even when she was sick with the flue or a cold. We tried to help, but we were so small. She would laugh and smile with us and we were in charge of the bunnies, ducks and our own little flocks of special heritage chickens. We would feed all the animals, chattering and laughing, playing make believe. And she would march, back and forth with bucket after bucket. Her shoulder and hand still ache and I don’t imagine she will ever be free of it.
She was from the sort who asked for nothing and pushed and struggled through alone. She was from the sort that was never idle, always filled their days with tasks, preparing for what was a head. She was from the sort that would never tell of her great feats, certain they are nothing to be spoken of, not worth the time to share.
Long summer nights, with golden sunlight filtering through the kitchen window, she would stand for hours, washing, peeling, pitting and canning peaches, pears, apricots and plums. My favourite was the thick sweet apricot syrup she would make every year.
We would always have a warm baked oatmeal, canned peaches and apricot syrup. That was my favourite meal and I swear, one day I will make it for her.
I was an anxious child, and her calm strength was my foundation. Her bright laugh and childish way of seeing magic was my wonder. She was a safe place, singing soft lullabies in the wee hours of the morning when my stomach hurt. I was often sick and she was endlessly patient and kind.
She would take us on adventures, long car rides, where an audio books would always be on. Jack and the Giant Peach, Wind in the Willows, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, Kidnapped, Mystery of History and on. I was immersed in literature and it is a foundation part of my life today.
She ran a working farm, she fed us, she schooled us, she always had time to take us on adventures, she would read to us and play with us. She taught me to ride with free abandon, to work out the kinks in my young mare. She ran with us, she leapt and laughed with us.
In my childish eyes she was strength, she was magic, she was invincible.
She is not perfect and she is tired. But she is perfect to me. I see her faults and I understand them. I see in her a vast and patient love.
She is tired now, sometimes I watch her wander from day today, unsure how to fill it. But she is still vibrant and finding her way in a new and uncertain life.
She has taught me strength and power in the simple. She has taught me to be curious and to always, always dream. She has taught me to seek and to be still. To work hard and to rest. To love the simple and the luxurious. She has taught me to fight and to fight. She is a warrior and she has taught her children well. She is strength and she is wild.
She is my mother.