The Circle of Life

By Michelle Mather

Last week Cam shared some happy news with you about an addition to our family, our new son-in-law Dhruva. Our family has also experienced some losses this year and so I thought it was only appropriate that we share some sad news too.

As Cam wrote in a previous post that you can find here, his grandmother (Grandma Mather) lived long enough to celebrate her 100th birthday. In fact, she even celebrated her 101st birthday last August.

Grandma was such a great lady and was so full of life and charm that I think we all just assumed that she would never leave us. But in early January, while suffering from a bad cold that got worse, she passed away peacefully, in her own bed, in her own home, with her family around her.

Here’s how she was remembered in her obituary;

MARJORIE MATHER (nee LONG) Passed away peacefully in her home in London, Ontario on January 12, 2013 at the age of 101. Marjorie was the beloved wife of the late Dean (1963). Sister of the late Harry (1984) and Dorothy (1993). Dear mother of Bruce and Joan. Treasured grandmother of Cindy (Keyvan), Cam (Michelle), David (Ann) and Paul. Devoted great- grandmother of Erin, Jason and Sarah, Nicole and Katie. Special aunt to Verne, Wendy, Vicki, Nancy, Sandi and friend to many. As Gram never liked anyone to “fuss” there will be no service. She has been buried next to her late husband at Resthaven Memorial Gardens. Gram was a kind, gentle, witty, wonderful woman who took pleasure in everything. She will be terribly missed.’

I wrote about Grandma in a blog post back in April of 2010. Be sure to read that post here and you will get a sense of just what a no-nonsense, go with the flow, roll with the punches type of person that she was. No doubt it’s one of the reasons she was able to make it past 101!

As you can imagine, her passing has left a huge gaping hole in the fabric of our family. She is terribly missed but we are all so grateful for having as many years as we did with her at “the top.”

Around the same time that Grandma passed away, my 89-year-old mother entered the hospital. My mom had suffered many health issues over the years but had always managed to bounce back. In fact, we often referred to her as the “Energizer Bunny” for her ability to keep going and going and going, no matter what health challenges she faced.

Unfortunately her batteries did wear out and she passed away peacefully in the hospital.

Here is her obituary;

ARCHER, Marjorie Isabelle (nee Adams) December 30, 1923-January 19, 2013 After a long struggle, battling many health issues, Marjorie passed away with her son Robert at her bedside at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Burlington, in her 90th year. She was predeceased by her husband of 64 years Colonel Lorne Archer. She was the dear mother of Robert with whom she resided in Burlington, Alec of Quesnel, BC, Nancy of Kingston, Cheryl of Burlington, Lorna (Wayne) of Saturna Island, BC, Bruce (Maureen) of Nanaimo, BC, Michelle (Cam) of Tamworth and Laurie of Hamilton. She was also the proud grandmother of 15 grandchildren. Marjorie is survived by her sister Rhoda Mitges of Hamilton and brother Kenneth Adams of Charleston, Illinois. Marjorie was born during a fierce snowstorm in late December 1923 and lived her early years on the Hamilton Mountain. In 1943 she married Lorne Archer, just as he was setting off to war. Upon his return, 4 years later, they settled for a short time in Phelpston, Ontario before moving to Hamilton, Ontario. Marjorie became a “stay at home” mom raising 8 children over the years. Mothering was her vocation and her greatest joy was found in her kitchen – baking and cooking – constantly nourishing her family. She took great pride in the accomplishments of all her children and grandchildren. When asked, our mother once described herself as “just a housewife,” but she truly was a homemaker who raised her children in a warm and loving environment. As per Marjorie’s wishes, cremation has taken place. A celebration of Marjorie’s life will be held at a later date, time to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation would be appreciated by her family.

I found a lovely quote that I think is appropriate for both mothers AND grandmothers; “A mother is with us always, first in her lifetime, then forever in our memory.” As you can tell by the number of children she had, my mother led a very full life and I cherish my memories of being her child.

Cam wrote this and asked me to add it to today’s post;

A decade ago, I was walking on our road and a wolf came out of the bush in front of me, stared at me, and then went back into the woods. It was summer, I had running shoes on and was downwind, and I’d never see a wolf here before.  We do see and hear coyotes quite often. This was a larger animal and definitely a wolf. Shortly after arriving home from my walk I was informed that my mother had passed away, right around the time that I saw the wolf.

Then a number of years later, after Michelle’s Dad died, I was on my way to Ottawa to pick up our daughters to take them to the funeral. At one point during the drive a wolf crossed the highway right in front of me. These are the only two times I have ever seen a wolf.

After Grandma Mather died we kept a keen eye out for wolves, but none appeared. Then a few days later I spotted a bald eagle. Again, we have never seen an eagle in the 15 years we’ve lived here. We’ve seen lots of ospreys, hawks and owls, but never an eagle. I went back the following day with the camera and got these pictures. I try to be very open-minded about spiritual issues and I believe this very much taps into the native tradition of animal spirits. If it’s just a coincidence, it seems pretty random.

bald-eagle-mountain-road

bald-eagle-take-off

10 Responses to “The Circle of Life”

  • Tricia:

    I’ve been told that our loved ones that are on the other side are ALWAYS sending us signs and looking out for us. Whether its an animal, a song, a scent, a dream or coins. I love this and think its very comforting. So awesome about the eagle and wolf. Those are some very symbolic animals, you must be special! :}

  • Ah! The imprints people leave on our hearts and minds. That is the important thing.
    Another animal spirit story of which I’m sure there are many,this one had no direct connection to me. I am obliged to take a ferry to get to my island home. One day I was at the head of the car line with a clear view of the water in front of the ferry. Suddenly the ferry slowed and came to a stop. Trying to determine what the hold up was I looked out at the water in front of my car and there was a pod of dolphins crossing the bow of the boat. Once they passed the ferry gave a few long blows on the horn and continued on its way. I thought the dolphins had been the cause for the delay but asked a passing ferry worker anyway. He told me someone had been scattering the ashes of a loved one off the stern. I told him about the dolphins and asked him to please tell them about the dolphins. I should be so lucky as to have such an escort.

  • Kitty H:

    Here’s another weird animal story. Just after my mom died in 1998, I was getting to go to town via auto and saw 15, yes 15, golden eagles. I’d seen them before, but never so many. And yes, I do know how to identify a golden eagle and no they weren’t buzzards. Anyway, I have always they were a sign that Mom was okay and as a comfort to me.

  • Neil B. (Orleans):

    My sincerest sympathies to you both. You are very lucky to have had your parent and grandparent for such a long time.

    Congratulations on your daughters marriage!

    I have heard many stories of animal spirits in my lifetime. It certainly makes one wonder…

    Thank you for sharing your lives with us. It is a privilege that I truly appreciate.

  • Gerrit:

    Our condolences to you both. The circle of life it is. Gerrit & Antoinette

  • Blanche Hauch:

    Never underestimate our animal friends nor their creator.
    LISTEN!
    Blanche

  • Lilypad:

    Michelle, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. But what a wonderful mother she was and what a successful life! I sometimes feel like “just a housewife”, like I’m not having much impact on the world and certainly the lack of pay and prestige 🙂 would seem to corroborate that. However, I know that in reality, the work I do with my son (11) is of the utmost importance and it’s the kind of work that changes the world, like your mother did. She put a lot of love out into the universe and that is a marvelous achievement. And Cam, I’m so sorry for the lost of your grandmother. It sounds like she was a remarkable woman who also had a great impact on those around her. A grandmother’s love is so special. How amazing that you got to have her in your life for so long. We lost my husband’s grandfather a few years ago at 98 and we just rejoiced in the luck of having had him with us for so long.
    My best to both of you, and keep looking for them, their love endures.

  • Please accept my sincere condolences.

  • Animal spirits. I get it. These things cannot and should not be discounted. They were obviously there just for you to tell you something. I love that you noticed that.

  • Ken and Madeline Snider:

    We are thinking of you as we read of your losses. We are happy that you had your parents with you for so many years and that you have such good memories. All our sympathy . Love Ken and Madeline

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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