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Remembering Laurel

July 5, 2017

I’m having a good cry this morning, because it should have been Laurel’s (my step-mother) 69th birthday today. She succumbed to her Alzheimer’s a few years ago. Her relatively-young death was what prompted Michael’s and my move to pick up our entire life in Vancouver and strike out to try something new, leading us to Salt Spring Island with a garden, chickens, and a spectacular view where we could both concentrate on our writing. Laurel’s death gave as that push, but it is her life that I always wish to celebrate yet find myself incapable of articulating my … joy … grief …

Because it is the small things I remember, that I miss …

How when I visited in the summers, she would give me the bits of pastry leftover from making a pie, showing me how to sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon, then roll and bake them into tasty morsels.

How she would always talk to everyone in a room … that person who no one else seemed to talk to …

How she would bring me photos of people I didn’t know, who I still don’t know or remember that I’m supposed to know, and she would tell me all about their lives … or a conversation she’d been having with them …

But mostly, there was this thing she did … this way that she twisted her hand when pointing something out – she was left handed – and … I recall that and I weep … just her pointing something out to me. Something she was holding, a flower bud or shiny rock. Or someone in one of the photos she’d brought to talk to me about. It was this simple twist of her wrist, something so unique to her, something I’ve never seen replicated.

It’s easy enough to write about grand gestures and impassioned actions, but when I remember Laurel it’s that twist of her left hand, pointing something out to me that I recall, that I mourn the loss of.

She was kind. There isn’t nearly enough of that in this world.

She was worth the tears.

Me, age 3, with Laurel. I love this shot – taken February 1977 in Tillicum Park, Victoria BC (according to my Dad’s handwritten notes) – because I imagine I requested the kerchief, wanting to wear one as she did.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. bethany3cat permalink
    July 5, 2017 9:49 AM

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    My paternal grandmother was taken by Alzheimer’s. I’ll never forget one day, when she was still maintaining, but the disease was nibbling away at her core; I had been staying at her house for a week and loaded up for the road trip home.

    She took me aside before I left and said, “I enjoyed your company. May I ask you a question before you go?” I nodded. “What is your name?”

    I said, “Grandmama, it’s the same as yours — I was named after you.”

    “And tell me, what is that?”

    I remember crying most of the way home.

    • July 6, 2017 8:38 AM

      So, so difficult. And not at all like it is portrayed on film and TV, not in Laurel’s case anyway.

  2. Megan Hayes permalink
    July 5, 2017 9:49 AM


  3. Amanda permalink
    July 5, 2017 11:15 AM

    I’m so sorry for your loss..
    That you still feel her absence so clearly shows how very important she is to you. There’s no better way to remember those who’ve gone before us than with a smile, a tear, and living a life that brings us joy.
    Sending you the warmest wishes, a(n over-the-internet) hug, and a reminder that chocolate brings comfort..

  4. Lou M permalink
    July 5, 2017 12:14 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss – just cherish the good memories and know she is looking down at you, smiling with pride xo

  5. Susan Sander permalink
    July 5, 2017 5:07 PM

    I am so very sorry for your loss but so glad that you have all those memories to hold close in your minds eye. So much love. 💕

  6. Gail Lewis permalink
    July 6, 2017 5:40 AM

    I’m sorry for your loss. It’s a horrible disease. “She was worth the tears.” That’s sweet.

    • July 6, 2017 8:43 AM

      It is. Any death is terrible, I suppose. She was just so young in my mind.

  7. James Cowling permalink
    July 6, 2017 7:34 AM

    I worked with Laurel at Hansard. I liked her a lot, and didn’t know she had passed. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • July 6, 2017 8:41 AM

      Ah, I’m sorry you found out this way, James.

  8. Jen permalink
    July 6, 2017 10:55 AM

    I’m sorry for your loss, Meghan. I can empathize. My Dad passed away in 2014 at the age of 67 and his 70th birthday would have been July 3, 2017.

    So that was a hard day for me, made somewhat bearable by the fact that so many of my family reached out to say that they love and miss him, too; that my mother is still with us, healthy and active (I live with her); and that my puppy-son/service dog kept me on an even-keel and from becoming too maudlin.

    I find that it is important to remember the little things, so like you I have a few precious memories that I especially like to recall when the grief is overwhelming. They help.

    But it sure doesn’t get any easier. 🙁

    • Jen permalink
      July 6, 2017 10:59 AM

      Oh! And my Dad wasted away due to a form of Dementia (Frontotemporal Dementia) that took him from us too fast. 🙁

  9. July 10, 2017 8:18 AM

    So sorry for your loss. These feelings we have never go away, they just fade a little to help us cope better.

    In the last 5 years I’ve lost my mother a year later my mother in law and two years after my father in law. It’s been 14 years for my dad. All lost to cancer in one for or another.

    Just know they’re all looking down at us, still giving their strength and support but in a different way <3

  10. Kendall Jarish permalink
    July 12, 2017 11:06 AM

    Hugs to you

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