In Honour of My Mother
My mother, Dianne Hoover, passed away a little more than two months ago. While she had cancer, her passing still seemed abrupt and unexpected. It came very quickly.
On this Mother’s Day, my first without her, I want to share with you some reflections I shared at her funeral service.
As I grappled with my emotions around her death, I realized that the best way I could honour Mom was to follow the path of spiritual growth and writing that her passing had set me upon.
I hope you find meaning in these words.
Memories are like seasons, our minds turning from one memory to another, focusing on the importance of some memories in the current time, while knowing that other memories will surface later. Our memories of Mom, now, are bittersweet, as we remember her in the past, while just a few weeks ago our memories of her looked ahead to times that we might spend together. As we look outside, we see the barren landscape of winter, and our memories turn to thinking about the newness and the hope of spring, when things, for most of us, traditionally become better. A time of loss is like the winter season–the lack of colour, the cold and depressing landscape, and the yearning for something new. This yearning is what keeps us going, because in the midst of a barren landscape is always the hope for something to become new again. While winter is my favourite season, it wasn’t Mom’s. She much preferred the beaches of Florida, where the seasons revolve less around the changing landscape and more around the whims of tourists. I think the sun and the warmth of Florida spoke to Mom about something better, something new, something that could be renewed. And for Mom, there was always the hope of one more trip.
After my family moved to Sarnia, we were able to visit with Mom and Dad more often. Each time we came for a visit, it seemed as though they had added something new in their backyard garden. Mom enjoyed this, and enjoyed trying to attract birds and butterflies to the backyard, though it seemed I heard more stories about a rat that may or may not have taken up residence in their shed than I heard about birds. On one visit, I noticed a beautiful plant growing out of one of her planters. It may have been Baby’s Breath, but I’m not sure–the stems were long and spindly, with small flowers on top in bunches. I asked Mom about it, and she told me about this plant–it had died inside the house, in the fall, so Mom put it outside, in the planter, but didn’t plant it. She just set it there. And it sat over winter, on top of the planter, dead, and then in spring, it suddenly bloomed. Mom had put it outside hoping, but not optimistic, that it might return…and it did. Imagine that–having the hope that something once dead might become resurrected and new.
I noticed something interesting when reading my Bible one day. That discovery was that the word “hope,” while used often by us in our modern language as a verb, is, in the Bible, more often than not a noun. That means, it’s a thing. It's not a verb. It’s something that can be possessed or held on to. Not tangibly, of course, but intangibly, as an anchor, and a belief. I realized that we often use the word hope as a verb, and we use it to describe our desires and wishes, such as, we “hope” it doesn’t rain today, or we “hope” we get this or that thing. It's kind of wishy-washy, isn’t it? But not so in the Bible. Hope is a noun. It's something that we believe in, something that we look forward to, something that we anchor ourselves to,.
Our grief and sorrow today are twinged with a hint of joy and hope, like a canvas being painted, first with the dark colours that make up the background and the edges, the part we see taking shape first, but then with a little bit of light and a little bit of colour. Something new is being made. We hope for something more. We hope for something better. And because hope is a noun, we believe and know that the grief and sorrow we experience today will become joy and hope on the day of the resurrection, when we'll be together again with Mom. But in the meantime, we paint, and the canvas that begins darkly in the background of today will become brighter in the foreground as we paint with the colours of memories of Mom and the bright hope of a better future.