On Friday, I lost my best friend, Maid-of-Honor, travel companion, co-parent to my twins and Mom-“Shorty”.
Mom died at 92 in her own bed at our home in Crescent Beach, just as she wished.
Mom was one of eight children born in Ottawa to Margaret and Bill Fleming. Her mother raised all eight as a single mother, forging a bond amongst Jean, Vera, Erica, Shirley, Betty, Lorna, Trenholm and Beverley; which endured with the remaining siblings – Beverley Richardson (“much loved baby sister”), Trenholm (Bud) Fleming (“favorite (and only) brother”) and Mom.
Mom is survived by four children; Linda (Leonard); Tom (Lindsay) (c.Patrick, Andrew, Kelsey); Susan Beechinor-Carter (Jim) (c.twins Michael and Elizabeth) and Kathleen (c.Claire).
Mom worked at Kerrisdale Arena, then Kerrisdale Community Centre for years but her heart was in Canadiana antiques running her Point Grey antique shop, Down Memory Lane.
Mom was always willing to take a trip, whether for days or hours – her motto was “don’t ask me if I want to go somewhere unless you really want me to come because the answer is always ‘yes’.” She and I enjoyed many a trip down the California Coast or across Canada in a sports car. Before the twins, we went to Hawaii ‘on the cheap’ whenever we could, often flying home with nary a dollar between us.
For many years on Mom’s birthday, the two of us would spend the week at our favorite Inn in Carmel, California.
Mom was a gifted watercolor artist (she would deny that) as evidenced by her pieces hanging at our Crescent Beach home.
Her greatest accomplishment, however, was that of being the most giving, loving, patient Mom and Nana ever.
With the birth of her first grandchild, Patrick (Tom) came Mom’s full time obsession. No matter what, Mom would be there, even after the addition of Andrew and Kelsey.
Her strongest devotion came with the birth of Colin (Kathleen). Mom held strong when, in 1991, at four years old, Colin was diagnosed with leukemia. Mom worked behind the scenes while Kathleen, myself and a group of family and friends formed a charitable organization – “Colin’s Smile” – to find a bone marrow match for Colin by raising funds and awareness of the drastic need for donors in BC. Colin did receive a transplant, but died in May of 1992, shattering Mom and Dad’s world.
The Canadian Bone Marrow Foundation (formerly Colin’s Smile) stood as a legacy to Colin, Mom and all the others involved in raising millions and boosting the Bone Marrow Registry by thousands of registrants.
Dad (Patrick) was diagnosed with metastatic cancer that summer, forcing Mom and Dad to deal with his illness and cope with Colin’s death. Dad rallied to walk me down the aisle and again when Jim and I announced we were expecting twins.
In 1993, Mom and Dad came to live with Jim and me in Ocean Park. Jim doted on Mom like no son ever could, often saying that when she learned to make a martini, he was going to divorce me and marry her.
Jim’s work took him to Europe for the next twelve years and Dad regularly escaped to their ‘farm’ in Birch Bay leaving Mom and me with the twins.
Mom shared her great love of art with Elizabeth, taught her to bake and make bread and knit (a hobby she still enjoys). Mom adored Michael – she was an avid fan at his basketball games cheering on her “Sweet Cheeks”. Michael would by-pass anyone else when he arrived home to go straight to his Nana for hugs even when towering over her in his twenties. Nothing put a smile on Mom’s face like Mike’s love and attention.
When the twins were five, the four of us flew to Maui where Jim joined us. That annual trip continued until last year.
The ultimate trip was when Mom and I and the twins met Jim in Vienna. We spent weeks touring different countries – a trip that Jim had mapped with Mom in mind to show her the great museums and sites. She talked of that trip for years, keeping many prized mementos in her bedside table.
Everyone who met Mom loved her, her enthusiasm and verve, and often remarked on her infectious smile and attitude that made her seem much younger than her years. She was seldom idle, always happy to help build a fence or paint a room with me – both of which she did in the last two months.
Of the many people in her life, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of her dearest friends: her sister, Bev, with whom she was incredibly close; Maureen Bradley who was so often with Mom and such a cherished friend; Truss Kamhoot with whom Mom enjoyed so many laughs and who made Mom feel like a princess with her pampering; Donna Turchyniak who loved her like a mom and Pam Whelband, her hairdresser, who she looked forward to talking with for hours (always coming home feeling fabulous).
Yes, this is a ridiculously long obituary, but I was blessed with an exceptional Mom and her grandchildren with a phenomenal Nana, and we wanted to honor her in this small way.
Mom, you often said we gave you the best years of your life – Right back at you! Aloha!
Under strict orders from Mom there will be no service.
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