Christmas at Hoskins

Mamie lived in the Hoskins housing co-op on Victoria Street in Sarnia for many years. She lived in at least 3 different apartments in that time and I remember her admiring each one for different reasons. The last one she was in had a great view of the park behind the library and her balcony was a lot of fun to sit on and people watch. Or squirrel watch. Mom had a weird thing for squirrels.

Anyways, my main memories in the Hoskins centre around Christmas parties with pretty much all the Lynds-Bruno clan who could make it. Mamie would reserve the common room on the first floor for the day and she would cook a bunch of stuff in her apartment and the shared kitchen. There would always be tons of food, gifts, laughs, and love. For me, returning from university in either London or Montreal, this was how I got to see my nieces and nephews for the most part. I would return for Christmas and see everybody, but sometimes in summer would miss out on seeing a bunch of people. At the time I didn’t realize it, but Mom made sure I got to see everybody. It was almost like she was my agent making sure I said hi to everyone in the room at least once.

There are many pictures floating around of those years with the kids, but for some reason this is my fave at the moment. Most important here is that Mamie would shop all year for that one day. As I wasn’t around for most of the year, I always marveled at how mom could shop for so many people and it always felt so balanced. And I have no idea what any of those kids remember. Sure would be good to hear from some of them (wink, wink)

What are your memories of Hoskins?

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You Better Watch Out

One of the main points that our Celebrant (Alan Mackewon) talked about during Mamie’s service was her resourcefulness. She always found ways to feed, clothe, and house us despite the many challenges she faced at different points. And this providing went far past the basics and spread to gift giving.

When I was young, Mamie made sure I got WHATEVER I wanted for Christmas and birthdays. When I think of those mornings, I remember getting everything I asked for and Mom sitting there asking if I was happy with what she’d gotten me. And me running into her arms and hugging. Now. Maybe that’s not exactly what happened, but it’s how I remember it, so that’s all that matters right?

In my high school years, and after I went to University, this tendency did not stop. Mom still got me whatever I wanted, often times before I even knew I wanted/needed it. Mostly functional gifts (nice clothing) that I could not always afford as a student replaced the different video games or action figures I received in childhood.

The one thing I loved about my mom over the past decade or so was her watch collection. She never splurged on really great watches, but the colours and variety were awesome. And sometimes she shared these with me. When my life-partner-wife-bassist-artist-whatever-Sundi met Mamie for the first time(?), Mamie gifted us matching watches from Time magazine (again emphasizing her resourcefulness and thoughtfulness). We wore those watches for years and the only thing they said on the face was “Time” – I think we even had a good laugh over that.

When my brother was going through mom’s belongings he found many gifts intended for many of the significant people in her life, but she hadn’t entirely decided who was getting what, and she had not finished shopping yet. But many gifts were there. Even more important, to me, than the gift, is to see how she always worked so hard to keep so many people happy. There were a lot of gifts, well wrapped, with cards, some with names, some with ‘son’ or ‘daughter in law’ or ‘grandchild’, but they were there.

Someday I will post a pic of the coolest Christmas socks she left me(?) I knew I needed those, cause they are messed up!

For now, though, her she is with a watch she wore for years, and we now have with us as a token.

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Tearing Up

Its been three weeks since Mamie ‘left us’. This past month has been the hardest of my life for sure, despite whatever composure I display. There has been some respite here and there from thinking about her, but at numerous points everyday she surfaces somehow.

This past week I had two cry-free days (Wednesday & Thursday) and thought I was doing okay, but then I had a dream about her. Its too hard to detail everything, but needless to say my waking hours after that dream were a mess. She arrived at a party and told me she was still with me. It was horrifying to try and tell her she had passed on. Unfathomable.

After that dream, Mamie visited Sundi in one of her dreams. Now, listening to Sundi recount her dreams is a great gift I get and I won’t get too far into her’s either, but it was interesting and awesome. Mamie was being disruptive at her own funeral. Sundi recalled dream Mamie as very authentic, funny, and at moments intimately sombre.

Mamie has caused a lot of tears in the past month, for a lot people, but having ‘left us’, one of the things I recall sharply is her lack of tears. Or at least a lack in that I only saw her actually cry twice: once when our dog, Nipper, died, and once when my dad, Lloyd, died. I am sure she cried a lot more than I ever saw/remember, but its so strange to have not been witness to it.

Maybe all of the tears shed are a stockpile she had saved up for some many years and she now passes them on to all of us. Or maybe she cried a lot in private? I have no idea. Given all the tough things she went through I never felt it appropriate to ask why she didn’t cry more. Regardless, for me, she has not left. Or she continues to leave through my eyes when I can’t hide my grief.

Here she is with Nipper in 1989.

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PS: If you have a story you’d like to share about Mamie and/or pictures, please do send along to my email on the ABOUT page.

Who was Mamie?

It’s been two weeks since Mamie passed on. Many people are not having the easiest times of dealing with that. I, definitely, am not. She was the strongest witness to my life. Every time we talked she reminded me of who I was and often times shed light on things from her own life that entirely amazed me. Perhaps it is obvious to say this, but I never really knew her. Mamie’s story started long before I showed up and will continue.

During the last week of her life, Mamie was still fighting, at times, to stay here. When she was cognizant, she argued against when her time should be, while at other moments she raised her arms and said “Let’s get this thing done”. It is impossible and too painful to speculate what it is like to be so near an unfathomable end. Memories of her life filled her at moments with a clarity that seemed very obtuse, almost undecipherable to me at least, to those around her.

Now. Mom, for many years, was known for making strange connections between things. She was an odd bat and a witty one. Funny, tough, and comforting somehow because she said whatever she wanted to for the most part. Some thought her brave for just getting things out there.

But sitting there with her in those last days was confusing. The morphine. Her world view(s). Her personal struggle of losing her husband, two of her boys, her parents, her siblings, a multitude of friends, her idols, and so many other signs and symbols of normalcy throughout her 82 years. Her inner world was immense and complex, but she rarely let loose on others of the struggles she had. As long as her family was okay, she was okay.

And long before all these things she was an adventurous young woman who wanted a fresh start. She was Mamie Henrietta (Snook) and she loved moving from Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia to the big city of Hamilton, Ontario with her new husband Lloyd Seldon Lynds to begin anew.

And here she is at 17 in Hamilton shortly after her move there in 1949.

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Preambles and such

Mamie Lynds left us last week on December 22nd, 2014. Although she was 82 years old at the time, she had the ability to connect with people of all ages. She was a people person who spent a lot of her time giving and sharing whatever she could. Her resourcefulness was a strength to all around her.

This archive/blog/fun-space is intended to help us remember Mamie through as many lenses and perspectives as possible. Over her last week of life, family and friends bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t get all of the pictures and other media together for her service. This, compiled with the fact that I have a vast audio archive of our phone conversations over the past many years, prompted me to think that this would be a worthwhile and fun venture to embark on.

Just to be clear, hopefully most of these posts will be happy ones and not all sad – my mom wouldn’t have it any other way. She would probably curse at me if I tried to publish sappy remembrances all the time. And the last thing I ever wanted to do (and don’t want to start now) is anger Mamie 🙂

It is my intent to publish every Monday as she passed on a Monday and hopefully it will be a good start to each week.

If you have stories and/or pictures and/or anything really that you want published here to be shared, do send them along to

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This is me and Mamie from 6 years ago.

She wasn’t much of a hugger, so I did most of that 🙂

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