I remember getting off the plane in Sidney, BC in August of 2012 and thinking, ‘Oh man, there’s no way she’s gonna be up for this NOW.’
The ‘She’ I’m speaking of was my mom, and the ‘This’ I’m speaking of was our excursion to the world-renowned Butchart Gardens. This was a side trip we were getting in before we were set to meet up with my cousin and with hours to kill, what better way to spend a sunny morning than checking out 900 plant varieties across 55 acres of land?
Honestly, I can think of about 100 better ways to spend a morning in the sun, but this was definitely a Mom thing to do, and I was more than happy to just be her cameraman. Looking back on it now, I’m surprised she was able to make the trip because she didn’t have the greatest plane ride over to the island and on top of that, she didn’t exactly have a great night of sleep. But that seemed to be the way things would go sometimes for Mom: a wonderful, memory-making time while running on little sleep. Hey, life’s not perfect.
I remember her eyes lighting up at so many of the different colour combinations and plant varieties, and I made sure to have her pose in front of different markers and exhibits as I grabbed my trusty camera. I smile when I think of this trip because I remember thinking that the best was yet to come.
And it did.
After an evening spent in the city of Victoria, my cousin Murray picked us up and we were en route to his boat, which would eventually whisk us away to his home on Sidney Island. Man, what a trip. I remember the photo I snapped of Mom on the boat minutes before it took off. She’s giving me a look of pure, unadulterated joy and it’s beautiful. God, I’m going to miss that.
We took off for the island and enjoyed a few days of togetherness while making time to check out our new surroundings. A day trip over to Maple Bay was a treat, especially the boat ride over on Murray’s yacht. Again, in my photos collection I see I have several of Mom just sitting on the boat from the back, looking out over the ocean and thinking about who knows what.
Maybe she’s thinking how lucky she is to be in this situation.
Maybe she’s remembering all she had done in this trip up to that point.
Maybe she’s wondering how a farm girl who went to school in the teeny, tiny community of Bounty wound up on a yacht in the ocean headed for fresh seafood on an island.
We took the rest of the trip and it was memorable in its own unique ways. There have been other trips and there have been other experiences with Mom:
Her several trips down to the States, of which I was her only kid who was never able to go, but I loved hearing her tell the best parts of each new spot seen or experience experienced.
Her 60th birthday celebration in 2011 when she was completely unaware that an Elvis impersonator had been booked and was setting up for a show at her bar in Conquest. That night was truly special. The place was the most packed I’ve ever seen the little old bar in town and Mom had absolutely no clue of what she was about to witness. We had supper at home just prior to all of us going down to the bar and as far as she knew, it was just going to be the family getting together for drinks, appetizers, and a fun night out at the pub. Nope! As soon as she walked in, a huge crowd was on hand to wish her a Happy Birthday and when Elvis walked in the room, I made sure to have my camera ready. The result is a shot of Mom’s jaw literally hanging low, a product of sheer surprise and amazement. What a night.
More recently, I would have to put our Christmas spent up at a cabin at Candle Lake right up there as far as great times spent with Mom. See, spending the holidays up at a cabin in the woods, with the wintery exterior mixed with the warm, glowing interior of a cabin with a fireplace was on her list of things she always wanted to experience. It just so happened to be in the place of Candle Lake where our family has had so much rich history and several lifetimes worth of memories. How poetic. I remember us meeting back up in Saskatoon to get something to eat on the drive home and waxing nostalgic over the last few days. The smile on her face just couldn’t be beat. Mission accomplished.
There was so much more we wanted to do with her and for her in the years ahead, but that won’t happen now. Sadly, Mom passed away just a little more than 24 hours ago as I’m typing this. She was 69 years old, which is far too young for anyone to leave this earth, but one is never truly ready for their mom to go, no matter what age.
Mom was a woman I knew for over 35 years. She was the strongest person I knew, hell, the strongest that I’ll probably ever know. Life isn’t fair, but neither is the afterlife, I suppose.
But in the end, my family and I had an amazing woman who enriched our lives just by being in it. We should all be so lucky.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.