Friday, November 03, 2006

Laid to rest: Winnie (1940 - 2006)

My Mom's funeral was held today.

What an odd couple of days. Incredible sadness intermixed with love and laughter. I remember when I was young and attended a funeral, I was struck by how the adults were laughing at the lunch held after the interment. I couldn't believe how they could laugh after we just buried somebody! Weren't we supposed to be sad and crying??? We just were crying 1/2 an hour ago - how could they be laughing now? Now that I'm older, of course, I understand how joy and sadness can occur. We've spent some time over the past few days remembering my Mom - telling stories, remembering things we've done together, laughing at quirks she had and things that happened in the past - and it's been so wonderful to laugh. Even last night at the funeral home, we joked that now Mom and her lifelong friend Jennie are up in heaven having a coffee together.

And once again, I was struck how funerals are not for the dead, they're for the living. It was a chance to share tears with good friends of my Mom, to cry with her siblings and her in-laws. Everybody that knew and loved my Mom needs a chance to say good-bye. I'll never understand families that hold "private" ceremonies for immediate family only. To me, that's just not fair. It totally minimizes all the other relationships that the deceased had. Yes, my Mom was most dearly loved by her husband, her daughters, her sons-in-law and her grandchildren. But she was loved by so many others - her dear lifelong friends, her siblings, her in-laws, new friends. And, even if someone didn't "love" her as we would understand it, her life affected many many other people - people she used to work with, people she attended Coffee Break at church with.. etc etc etc etc. I think that all these people need to have a way to say "goodbye". I found it so uplifting to see and chat with all those people who loved my Mom. Though it was heartbreaking to say good-bye, it was so wonderful to share our mutual love of her.

So, now, I'm emotionally drained and physically tired. It's been a long 4's actually unbelievable that it's only been 4 days since she passed away.

Lisa and I wrote a small "eulogy" for her funeral:

Mom was born the youngest of four children in the Netherlands during the war. She often spoke fondly of her childhood days growing up on the farm, and as a family we enjoyed hearing her stories and seeing her birthplace on a family trip to Holland. As kids we got a kick out of the fact that the barn, with all the animals was attached right to their house! The cutout bed in the wall was quite fascinating too. The family stayed in Holland until 1951, when Mom was 11, and they immigrated to Canada. The family first settled in Cochrane, Ontario. We loved to hear how the family lived in the school house and used the packing crates to enhance their house. In later years, the family moved to Caledonia. In her late teens, Winnie met the man who would be her future husband and on September 29, 1961, Gordon and Winnie were married in St. Catharines.

Early married life was spent working hard at their jobs to establish a new home life for themselves. Mom and Dad enjoyed weekends with friends and family. Their favourite pastimes were bowling, cards with friends and visiting family. Summertime was spent in their boat at the beach with friends waterskiing and boating. Mom and Dad also enjoyed summer holidays at the cottage with family and friends.

After 5 years of marriage, they were blessed with a daughter, Annette. Four and a half year later, Lisa came to join the family. Mom always told us how happy she was to have her two girls.

Growing up with Mom was often a lot of fun. Our favourite memories are of family vacations and traveling to many various locations. Our first major road trip was out east. We learned so much about our country and history through our various vacations and Mom and Dad instilled a love for travel in us both!
Mom loved to be with her friends and family and have a good time. Before she had her heart attack 3 years ago, she loved to walk. Almost every day included a 30 minute walk to Tim Horton’s for a coffee and another 30 minute walk home. Biking was another love of hers. Bike rides up to Lock 3 with Dad were her favourite. A bike ride to Virgil for breakfast was also a fun thing to do. Mom also always had the most beautiful and abundant garden on the block. We marveled at her green thumb and her ability to cultivate teeny tiny flowers into great big bushes of blooms. Her indoor plants were also her pride. She loved to laugh at a good joke, savor a glass of wine with her friends or her girls, enjoyed lunches or dinners out, and when her grandchildren came along, she loved to spend time with them and spoil them. Before her heart attack, Mom did a lot of babysitting and developed at wonderful relationship with each of her grandchildren. Mom was a caring and compassionate woman and was always there to help someone when needed.

We are forever grateful for the strong moral Christian values that Mom demonstrated and taught us through her example. We’ll miss her laughter, having “girls” lunches, phone calls and so much more.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Annette, for sharing your insights and thoughts. Mom sent a picture and a copy of the obituary. Very nicely written. (my pet peeve:in-laws in brackets was missing--thank you!!) I'm glad the last few days allowed for some wonderful time of tributes to your mom. She will be ever so much missed.
Rest well, Annette, rest well.
LOve, Alice

Tara Marie said...

Annette, what a beautiful euolgy for your Mother....she was truly an amazing woman from your words and I know she did an amazing job raising you, as you are truly an amazing woman also!

I fully understand your words about the funeral......we had many tears at my Mothers, but the laughter and celebrating of her life outshined the saddness.

Take this time in the next few weeks to allow yourselve to grieve, to stop and find a quiet place to talk to you helps and I do know our Mothers are up in heaven enjoying that cup of tea with their dear friends who passed before they did.

Much love to you dear friend......

Peace and love, Tara Marie

Kris said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful eulogy with everyone. I think of you often during these times and hope you move through your grief and into a peaceful place. It all takes time.

Love to you and your family,

Denise said...


What a beautiful tribute to Aunt Winnie, such loving words from everyone who spoke at the service. To remember someone with smiles and laughter along with the tears shows great love and respect. Your mom always wore a smile.

One memory I have of spending time at your house as a child was Aunt Winnie making us fruit hail sandwiches for lunch. As a child how great is it for someone to give you white bread with butter and candy sprinkles on top!! Sometimes they were chocolate sprinkles. (I know this is a Dutch thing, but as a child it was amazing) I also remember the soup on Sundays. These are memories that make me smile.

Love Denise

Chris (Nana's mom) said...

Annette- you are so right about the idea of funerals being for those left behind- and your eulogy is just beautiful. I'm sure your mom was smiling proudly from heaven.

Take good care of yourself.

Mauzy said...

Annette- I have been thinking of you all week. I loved your eulogy that you and Lisa wrote; I remember laughing quite a bit during my Dad's Celebration of Life and wondering "hmmmmmmmm is this appropriate? But I feel like laughing now as I am so, so tired of crying!"

love you and many hugs, and hope your birthday party today was full of laughter and love.

Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful eulogy you and your sister wrote - and your mom with us Annette. I am sure she was an amazing woman - know she raised an amazing daughter - and bet she was very pleased to look down and see all of you celebrating her life together. Your perspective on funerals being for those who are still alive is so true. Many hugs and prayers continue to come your way.

God Bless, Lisa, Jamie and Cori

Jeanine Bruinsma said...

Annette, I never really had the chance to know Aunt Winnie well. Only in our occasional family get togethers that have slowly stopped. I did however see what others had said about her quiet spirit. I pray that you and your whole family have a peace about her passing as she is definately with God now and free of pain. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts about this difficult time. You are an amazing woman and I admire your character you display.
love and many prayers
Jeanine Bruinsma

Nicole said...

Annette, that is an incredible honoring of your Mom. Your words and wisdom are much needed by me right now too. Thank you for sharing your heart!