Character is the key

On days such as Mother’s Day and my birthday, my children often ask “What would you like? What do you need?” The truth is that I want nothing more than I already have. Another technological gadget or piece of jewellery does not fulfill me in the same way that creating memories with my family does. So, this past Mother’s day, my daughters did exactly what I asked for: they made me something. I heard what sounded like sawing coming from behind the closed door of Chloe’s room in the days leading up to Mother’s day. What was presented to me on the actual day was a very creative and colourful piece of cardboard, cut to specifications and wrapped in bright pink duct tape with tin foil letters cut out to create the word MOM on it. Her DIY project, a template on which to fold T shirts , was not only thoughtful but impressive too. This, along with a handmade card, made me swell with love and pride. My other daughter, Talia, purchased a beautifully bound red book titled “I love you Mom. Here’s why….” and then spent days thinking and writing about all of the things she appreciates about me along with a collection of memories that have created a strong bond between us along the way. I couldn’t have asked for anything more heartfelt or special.

It was with these treasured items of caring and love by my side that I watched footage of the moms and dads, grandparents and children – families who have had to flee from their homes as fire ravaged everything they had worked so hard to create over the years in Fort McMurray, Canada. Time and time again I heard many speak about how grateful they were to have, at least, their families by their sides and how their material possessions appeared so trivial next to knowing that the people they love are safe. So, it may not have been their finest piece of art work but rather their child’s favourite hand drawn picture, framed on the wall, that they gathered in their haste to leave. And it may not have been their expensive camera, but rather a stack of photo albums, reminding them of precious memories over the years, that they packed into their trunks as they left their driveways en route to who knew where. One woman pulled a copy of Robert Munsch’s book, Love You Forever, from the trunk of her car to show a reporter. Apparently her mom had given it to her on a recent visit home.

This got me thinking about what I would grab if I had five minutes to flee my home. Aside from my family and animals, I wondered if I should actually put my most treasured items – the ones above included – into a box in the garage or close to the front door, so that if the time ever came, I wouldn’t have to think about which room or cupboard to find them in. I already have all of the videos I have taken of our children and family over more than two decades on DVDs in a shoe box. There are too many photo albums to grab, but perhaps I would take the two birthday albums for each of our daughters, which show how they have grown from year to year, along with all of the pictures of their friends at the time.

At a time like this, when the world comes together to help fellow human beings cope with such devastating loss, it’s hard not to take stock of one’s own life and ultimately, to reflect on what’s most important.