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FEB 2 — Mom

Its Feb 1st,  11:05 pm and  I’m up in bed all of a sudden having this urge to write.  This time 5 years ago I was probably up at this time too. Most likely nursing our brand new little boy who was born 4 days before.   We were going to go down to Longview in the morning to show him off to my parents.   I’ll never forget the phone ringing about 6 in the morning.  I was nursing Reuben at the time and didn’t get to it.  The ring felt empty anyway and although I didn’t want to hear it, I knew what the message was.

Five years have past since that phone call and it has indeed been a journey of emotions.  I thought I’d celebrate mom in this Feb 2nd post.   (Yeah groundhog day.  Isn’t that ironic?  The day that keeps playing over and over again in your head!)   I am going to share some things with those who still have your moms with you that I get you to think about.  (and really it can be for your dad or your siblings or your best buddy)  This list won’t make the loss of your mom any easier as that is just a journey you have to stumble through.  My hope, though, is that you thinking of and acting on these things now will eventually make those tears turn to smiles.

1.  Record your mom’s voice!   Over time their voice becomes distant.  You can’t hear it in your head as easily as you could before.  I don’t have my moms voice and there are times when I know hearing it could provide a lot of comfort.   I don’t care if you’re sneaky or straight forward but record it somehow.  And it’s so much easier with our phones.   Save a voicemail message where she makes you laugh because it’s the 4th time she’s told you that.  Save her teaching your 1.5 year old what dogs say.  Ask her to share her relationship advice onto your phone.   I don’t care what it is… just get her voice so you can listen later.

2.  Keep recipes or cards or letters with their handwriting.  I love my mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe (and the cookies it makes and the memory of Dad always sneaking the dough and mom getting mad saying “Jim-MIE”)… in her left handed writing.  Her big capital c’s swirling on the page.  The way she wrote “with love, mum and dad” on all our cards.  I can her actually writing these messages when I see her writing.  Make sure you keep them as you’ll love looking at them later.

3.  Get pictures together. Oh what I would do to have more picture with my mom.  Especially when I’m grown up.   I hardly have any of us together as adults.  I was usually behind the camera and  Mom didn’t really jump to getting the photos.  Out of focus, bad light, spontaneous or perfectly exposed, great focus and professional…. man oh man get those photos!!

4.  Ask questions and write down the answers. There are even books out there I think that have questions and blank pages for just that.  I’d ask how do you handle an emotional 6 year old girl?  What do you wish you did that you never got around to doing?  How do you get through the harder times of marriage?  What was your favourite childhood memory?   What parts of your parenting are you so proud of and what parts do you regret?

5.  Related to this,  go through photos and albums together and hear the stories.  Write them down, too.  These stories get forgotten over time so get.  It’s like the picture of mom and me below.  I adore this picture, but I have no idea who took it, where it was, even how old I was.  It’s fun to know those details.  To share with your own family.   And to pass those down to your kids.

6.  Go on a trip together. My sister and I briefly talked about going to Victoria with mom for a trip.   That was the summer of 2007.  We didn’t talk about it much more than just throwing the idea around.  Then, October 2007 came around and Mom got diagnosed.  Sounds cliche but just do it.  You never know when it’s going to be too late .   That experience will help you with lots of the other things I mentioned, pictures together, asking, going through photo albums.    Go! Go start planning it right now.  And take that photo album or list of questions with you.

7.  These suggestions are memories and experiences, but possessions play a part too as they bring out that emotion and memory.  Just start to think of things of your mom’s that you would love.  I grabbed my favourite teapot of mum’s.  You know how much I I love tea and to brew my earl grey in this pot brings me that much closer to being around the kitchen table at the house on the ranch sharing a pot of tea.    Also, Mom was a huge garderner and I asked dad if I could have all her pots.   They are scattered in the studio’s backyard garden.   There’s a favourite that has had many newborns sleep peacefully in it.   For me, it’s like spreading her love to others in a special, silent way.

8.  Have your mom share or show any of the art she’s kept of yours. One day I found an old card in one of the boxes we were sifting through.  It was a Mother’s Day card and was a series of Roses are Red poems for her.  The paper flowers are falling off.  The colours are faded.  The poem’s are so funny, in their grade 3 or so writing.  I will treasure this card forever knowing that Hailey and Reuben pour that much love into their cards as I did for Mom’s.

9.  Be there!  If your parent is sick and you know it’s terminal, be there as MUCH as you can.  Just take that time and be with them.  The last time I saw my mom before she died was Christmas.  There was a chance of her having chemo and as she had to be as strong as possible for that, we didn’t chance visiting her because our family was so sick in January.  I was very, very pregnant and sure they could be more excuses.  There’s no point in beating myself up about this, but if I did it over again I would have been down in the hospital or Longview every single week and really every day if I could have.  So just be there and know you spent as much time as you could have comforting, chatting with and supporting them.

10.  Have your mom write letters to your children.  It’s hard to explain how much I miss my mom.   And part of that is missing her knowing my kids and my kids not knowing her, through their own eyes and experiences.  So have your mom write them a note every year.. maybe on Valentines or their birthday or heck even make it ground hog day!!   These will mean so much to them later when their grandma is gone.  Oh my, can you imagine reading those letters to them?  You’d need 236 kleenexes.  But to have them is so, so precious.

And that’s my list.   I welcome anyone to write any ideas they have that we all might keep in mind to treasure the memories of our parents.  I’d love to hear them!

And here’s my mom!   Thank you to whoever took this photo!  I have it as my phone wallpaper now (is that what you call it) and I smile everytime I pick up my phone.

Love you Mom,





About the author

Janet Pliszka:


  1. Dana Goldstein February 2, 2013 Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your suggestions are right on the mark. I am as passionate as you are about leaving history behind. This week, I had a client pick up her video to DVD transfers. She lost her husband in 1991, and she had completely forgotten that he always narrated during video. She was immediately in tears, not only for herself, but she realized their son would be able to still his father's voice.

    The handwriting is wonderful too. I've done many recipe photobooks that included the notes of the grandmothers and mothers who were the cooks and bakers for large families.

    I love the idea of letters. I'll be asking my mom to do that for my boys. Thank you for the reminder that life should always be cherished.

  2. Shelley February 2, 2013 Reply

    Oh Janet..this is a great post. I am so sorry your mom is no longer with you so this is a good reminder to those of us who are lucky enough to have our family. Very touching.

  3. Bev February 2, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for posting this as I too lost my Mom 16 months ago and miss her so much. I have many regrets and wish I had spent way more time with her than I did. My wish is for my children to understand just how much they will miss me when I'm gone. I have purchased books that record your voice reading them as well as try to take lots of pictures of them with me. I know it can never be enough to fill that void, but hopefully a little is better than nothing.

  4. Heather (Robertson) McPhie February 2, 2013 Reply

    Dear Janet.
    What a beautiful picture of you and Barbara. You are so correct with your comments I too wish I had done more of those things. I still miss my Mom every day. I try to pass on the love, acceptance and patience that she showed us on to my children. I feel that is a mom's greatest legacy. I am sure both of our Moms are watching us raise our children with smiles on their faces. I also created a space in my garden for Mom and Dad which I can see from my kitchen window. I look out at it every morning and they are in my thoughts for the rest of the day.
    Your Mom had the most wonderful laugh!!!
    Take Care
    Heather (Robertson) McPhie

  5. Leanne Nelson February 2, 2013 Reply

    Janet, those are lovely words of wisdom. Than you for sharing!! Sending a big hug your way...

  6. Laurie McGowan February 2, 2013 Reply

    Janet, you got it so right. I had forgotten my dad's voice until my mom had out old home movies put on DVD. My mom also found a letter he had written to us one of his long work adventures. He never wrote letters which makes it even more special. It's too bad something's we don't think of until its too late. To those who haven't lost a parent yet, give them love and squeeze all you can out of them emotionally. Big hugs Janet!!

  7. Rosemarie Bews February 3, 2013 Reply

    Janet, How true your comments are. I lost my mother nearly 28 years ago and I still miss her phone calls and visits so much. I wish I had spent more time with her and asked her more questions and recorded more things. Your suggestions are so good.

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