No matter how much you prepare yourself for the anticipated passing of an elderly parent, no matter how much you reherse well thought out responses to kind and thoughtful words of sympathy, no matter how well you understand that pain and loneliness is soon to be replaced with eternal peace, you are never really prepared.
Saying goodbye to Dad five years earlier (almost to the day) was tougher than I expected. I guess I just plain underestimated the admiration I had for the man I thought of as the family provider and disciplinarian. A man who just could not say "Good job, well done, Son" for fear it might cause me not to try to do better.
His station in life was as a husband, father and a good business man and only in his twilight years did we really begin to see his softer side.
Mom on the other hand began the relationship in 1933 as "wife." Wilfred Kitson was one of eight children born to poor English settlers in Canada who never owned much more that the clothes on their backs so the proposed marriage was opposed by Mom's parents.
So, they eloped and fortunately were soon thereafter welcomed back into the family. A little over a year later, she added "Mother" to her responsibilities and raised three girls (white sheep) and me.
Dad, as a provider, used his skills at farming, raising cattle, buying and selling cattle, and a trucking business. Later converting an old three story hotel into appartments and a cold storage and meat processing business along with his brother Ben and still later, realestate development in "cottage country."
Mom was unchanged by all the success, never owned a car of her own and her calling remained as mother and housewife long after we'd left the nest.
I really and truly believe that no one disliked her. Even in her old age and living in the Victoria Manor, the staff couldn't say enough good things about her.
"She is such a sweetheart, never complains and always has a smile for you" they'd say. She was very fond of the staff of doctors, nurses, assistants and volunteers who were all so nice to her and treated her as is she were their mother too.
Whenever I would work on a new article that would reflect our early years, I wouldn't hesitate to call Mom with questions about our life in Little Britain or on the nearby farm back in the late 1930s and early 40s.
Even into her mid 90s her mind and memory were sharp but all that began to fail due to TIA's or "mini strokes" which became more numerous and devastating in late 2006 and the first two months of 2007.
I was asked to offer a eulogy and I did sit down and put some thoughts into print the morning of the funeral service but realized during the visiting hour that I would never get through the last paragraph.
My cousin, the Rev. Glen Goodhand looked through my notes and said he would say a few words on behalf of the rest of the family during the service.
Here's what I wrote:
You could never say Mom was a loner because she enjoyed being with friends and family so much, but, while she didn't necessarily enjoy being left alone, she could sit and knit, sew, crochet or mend for hours and not complain.
When Dad was in the cattle business, he'd be gone from early morning until late at night. Also, for two weeks during the Fall Deer Hunt. So, Mom pretty much raised us and if I misbehaved, all she had to say was "now you straighten up or I'll tell your father when he gets home" and that always worked.
She knitted our socks, made dresses (for the girls) and I still have some pullovers and a Mary Maxim sweater she knitted for me. I also have one she made for Dad.
In Florida she attended ceramic and art classes and produced numerous gems, some of which are on display in our home.
While Mom always made good use of her hours alone, she seemed to prefer being in the company of others. She, along with our father, acquired a lengthy list of friends through the years and they would often get together to play cards and laugh.
And yes, Mom could laugh and laugh hard but you really didn't hear her laugh. In fact, if you couldn't see her, you wouldn't know she was laughing. She just went through all the gyrations and facial expressions of a hardy belly laugh and eventually end it all with ..."Oh dear."
Dad past away on March 2nd of 2002 in his 96th year and after a short period living alone, Mom became envious of friends and relatives living at the Manor and wanted to live there too.
Regardless of good fortunes, her long life brought loneliness as one by one she said her sad farewells to all her siblings as well as most of her friends and relatives.
Mom was very much aware of the fact that her clock was winding down and that in her 95th year, the key with which to rewind it was no longer within her grasp.
On Tuesday, February 27th 2007, I received a call from my sister Audrey, ........the pendulum had come to rest.
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