Mamie and I mostly talked on the phone, or through Skype, and occasionally she would send me a hand-written letter. She also had a Facebook account that she checked frequently for a while, but once she moved into Trillium Villa it went dormant. Over the decade or so since I’ve had a Gmail account, she was mentioned frequently in correspondence with others. And there were occasional mentions of her through notifications of various types as well.
When I search my Gmail account there are almost 300 emails that mention Mamie in some form. A lot of these are from my brother Art who included her on his group emails for many years. When I remove “Art” from the search, there are only 39 emails with mom’s name in them. Strange to be so analytical about this, but it is interesting.
Going through the years of emails, Mamie is talked about in conversations with numerous people. Details of her moving to different apartments, plans for surprise presents, reports of how we were doing and asking after her health. There’s even a few emails around the time she took ill in 2011 and was living in Sudbury for some time. At the top of the list are emails about her obituary, her death certificate, and links to this blog. Its quite a strange experience to go through all of those moments and remember phone calls with her.
Some of the emails are backdrops to weddings, birthdays, and events that I still remember quite vividly. Reading all of these messages and ending up here again, in the present, typing on this blog about memories of her is strange. Challenging. Fruitful some how. So few messages revealing such a wide swath of a life now passed. If a stranger were to read all of those messages I wonder what they would glean about Mamie from them. They would note how everyone who talked about her thought she was funny, yet stubborn. How she always seemed happy to hear anything from the ones she loved. But what of her actual life? Did she lead a good life? Did she enjoy her life?
The very first email in the list is from 2005 and was sent by Alina, my niece, who was studying photography at the time in London, Ontario while living with my brother Mike and his husband Keith. Alina’s email starts out asking about the Czech Republic, where Sundi and I were living at the time, and she goes on to talk about how her photography courses were going. Included as an attachment is the picture of Mamie below that I had entirely forgotten about for years. If a stranger were to see only one picture of my mother, I think this would be one of the best. You can see that her life wasn’t easy, but she always found a way to enjoy herself.