The sound of my home was Van Morrison, Chantal Kreviazuk, borscht bubbling on the stove, and my mother’s sewing machine whirring away.
It was the sound of the trains crashing together at the yards underneath the Arlington Street bridge, a crash so loud that their noise reverberated four blocks away to 813 Flora Avenue.
I could fall asleep to those sounds, tucked within the duvet cover and pillow shams my mother sewed for me in my little yellow room- with a window that pigeons cooed against, their silhouettes lit by the security lights of the Mac’s parking lot behind us.
My mother was a creator who never saw herself as creative, or talented, or anything special. She was merely a runner who ran UP and down the Arlington Street bridge to her job at HSC everyday where she worked as an autopsy technician- the first woman in Manitoba to do this job- discovering the stories of the deceased by careful dissection. She was merely a seamstress on the side, co-running a clothing company called Guppies Wear for Kids carried by the Forks and modeled by yours truly. She was merely a savior of animals who found them and brought them home several times a year- doesn’t everyone do this?- while spotting them on her running route home or being given away in boxes at garage sales. This is how the sound of kittens born by a cat found on the bridge and the chirps of a single, slightly aggressive lovebird named Cheek Cheek came to join the symphony of noises that lulled my brother and I to sleep.
She was merely a warrior, our block captain who could be found battling stray dogs barking at the entrance to our yard by swinging one of our backpacks full of books, or haggling with the manager at Superstore for a discount indicated on the coupon she couldn’t find in her purse. She was merely a gardener who grew stalks of sunflowers taller than our 8 ft fence, along with peonies and daisies, lettuce, carrots, green beans and everything else we ate for dinner.
She was merely a giver, who got rid of items by giving them to those who needed through regular Canadian Diabetes or “Sally Ann” (Salvation Army) drop-offs. She was a giver who gave even when we couldn’t afford to- teaching me the a lesson that has been engrained in me since these sounds were a part of my daily playlist: giving to others, whatever you could afford. She was a community creator, a friend, a bright light, and a tempest.
She is my guide, and has spoken words that navigated my path since she left.
I’m inspired by my mother daily and wish so badly I could share the successes of my life- as well as the despair- with her. I’m exhausted crying about the loss. I’m really, truly, tired of it. But because she was the most fantastic unbelievable person, the space in which she occupied will always remain a massive canyon.
I sit in stillness and whisper the last words we spoke:
I love you mom.