This is my mother tribute! When Mary Cook McLaughlin, my mother died, I lost a parent who not only loved me but inspired me with her resilience and supported me like a best friend. We were close. I had the advantage of being the first born and the only girl out of four siblings. Yes, birth order as well as sex has an influence on our relationships and behavior. With significant farm labour in and out of the kitchen, Mom relied on me daily and we worked well as a team.
My chores included gathering the eggs, assisting with meal preparation, washing and drying dishes, weeding the garden, picking fruits and vegetables from the garden, washing the milking machine parts, and bringing in laundry from the clothesline and ironing. When I was 14 years of age my youngest brother, Paul, was born, and tasks such as changing diapers and potty training were added to my list.
We were poor farmers and my baby brother slept in my bed until I left home. No one complained, least of all my mother. She rose early in the mornings to scrub, peel, bake and care for home, garden, and children. I recall her spending hours canning vegetables and fruit on humid summer days for our winter supply.
The second of three farmhouses, at the top of a hill and long lane, Robin Hill was her favorite, regardless of no kitchen sink or furnace. When she had extra time and energy, she would paint an old table or find some way to make a junk yard find into something useful and appealing. She was well known for her gardening prowess with abundant perennial blooms.
She was always a fragile woman, like a treasure in a China shop and Dad always felt like a bull in that China shop. I remember asking her what attracted her to Dad when they met before he went off to serve in the Second World War. “He was strong, fun and protective” she said before adding, “I’m sorry I didn’t speak up when he became verbally and physically abusive with you and your brothers.” There were no women’s shelters, outreach programs or awareness of the effects of Post Traumatic Disorder, which many soldiers brought into their homes. She did the best she could with support from our church.
No matter what farm or community Mom moved, she made the nearest United Church of Canada her main circle of support. Mom led the Sunday School, the United Church Women, and the annual church bazaar. Her crafts were always one-of-a-kind in the form of bird houses, floral arrangements from her garden or Christmas stockings made from exotic fabric scraps she found at the church rummage sale. Many of her blouses were altered men’s shirts purchased at same church sale. I recall her saying, “The finest fabric can be found in men’s dress shirts.” Her sewing machine was used and used. She was creative, resourceful, compassionate, and loving. That’s the abbreviated story of my mom, Mary Cooke McLaughlin. I dearly miss her.
The day I married my dear Leslie Morgan, mom approached him with a warm smile and announced, “You can now call me Mother Mary.” They had an endearing relationship from the day he entered our home at age seventeen.
Lessons from mother include developing gratitude for all we have with our modern and easier life, not letting lack of money or resources stop creative expression, and doing our best and then letting go the rest.
Many people give tribute to a mother who passed away. Some create slide shows, tell stories, or write a poem. Here is a piece of prose I wrote, my tribute to mother at her funeral, which was really a celebration of her memorable life.
Dearest Mother Mary
For me the word Mother conjures an image of
A gentle hand, wistful wishes for children grown,
And a sweet spirit that rests with me.
I have seen a tear shed for my struggles and a smile for my successes.
Mother gently and deeply empathized with the pain and pleasure
Of all for whom she cared.
She had twinkly-eyed moments when she told my once new hubby,
“You can now call me Mother Mary,”
Or created silly skits for the community Spring Thaw
Or as Bertha Honker mailed dozens of cornball and mushy letters to friend, Richie Davis
Or gleefully went off junk yard exploring in Jane Wyatt’s truck
Or told me on my 50th birthday, “You’ll always be my baby.”
My Mother because she brought me here.
Dearly Loved Mother because she was
Encouraging, listening, learning and looking over her bloom filled garden.
She fussed that she planted and weeded or sewed on her Singer or decorated her home or read a book . . . for too many hours;
Fussed they were selfish hours because someone, somewhere was suffering or lonely and she should take them a casserole.
But we saw a generous, open minded and lovable Mary–
A woman who rose with the sun eager
To explore the offerings of a country morning
With a glorious evening grosbeak
Awaiting her studious and delighted admiration.
By Patricia Morgan
I was blessed with a gentle, creative, and loving mother. Many need to seek support, love, and inspiration elsewhere. I feel blessed that I had a parent deserving of a mother tribute.