Saturday, July 23, 2011

Smiles in Heaven

My mom, Lori and I, 1956

I just spent a highly satisfying Saturday morning, washing the outside of all the windows with vinegar water, while Lori planted a rose bush and mowed the lawn. It was fun, both of us busy working around the place.

When we were each maintaining separate places, the workload was too heavy for either of us to manage. Here, where the load is shared, it is easier to keep up, not so overwhelming. Plus there is more motivation for me to, say, wash the windows, with someone else outside working too. Too easy to put it off when I lived alone and it felt like I would never catch up anyway.

As I went up and down the step stool and moved the squeegee up and down the panes, I reflected back to when this house was our mom's. In the last few years of her life, she got the small farm she had wanted all her life. A time or two, when she was young, she realized this dream, but lost them to financial woes. She had given up on it, and was living in the city, when my sister found this small two-acre hobby farm, with barn and pasture, and even a pond,  for sale for a song back when real estate prices in Port Alberni were low. Mom sold her place in the city, paid cash for this place and banked a tidy sum.

She gloried in the farm, the chickens, baking her own bread, for a few happy years before her health began  suddenly to fail. At that time, an addition - the one I am living in now - was added to the house, and Mom moved into it, Lori moving into the house itself to look after her. Mom died unexpectedly the next year.

I remember Lori taking me, in l988, for a zodiac tour to see the whales in Tofino. As the boat coasted up and down the sides of huge waves, I remember Lori saying, "We could end up the two crazy sisters, living together on the West Coast, in our old age." I laughed, but she said, "It could happen." And look at us - it did. I never would have predicted in a million years that I would have to leave Tofino, a loss I still mourn, and be forced to settle in Port Alberni, the least likely place for me to locate. But that's how it turned out.

That trip she took me on to see the whales that year sealed my fate, and made me know I had to follow my heart and live in Tofino. When I was wrestling with the hugeness of the change and the precariousness of not having employment and housing waiting for me, my mom phoned me and gave me her blessing, which allowed me the courage to make the leap into the unknown, yet heady, joyous life that awaited me there. She had worried about me, as a single mother of four, always poor, always struggling. I had only just moved into a management position at my job, was for the first time making good money. The choice was to stay where I was, where my soul was dying, for financial "security" (of which there is none, trust me!) or to follow my heart.

My mom told me, "This is your dream. You have wanted this for years. Go for it. You're not alone in the world. You'll be okay."

My mom helped me a lot while I was raising my kids, so this was a generous and compassionate thing to say, knowing I was giving up a good income to throw my fate to the winds of chance.

I moved to Tofino in the spring of 1989 and lived there for the ten most gloriously happy and fulfilled years of my life. As it turns out, when you follow your heart, the universe supports you, and time after time, as I lived those years, I recognized that the universe was holding me in the palm of its hand. There is no other excuse for the things that came my way there, in the place where I belonged.

It was a magical ten years.

And now I am here, in Mom's suite, Lori and I both happy with the new arrangement, which provides each of us with the support, help and companionship our lives otherwise lacked, while still allowing us our space and solitude, which is important to both of us, and of which we are both respectful.

I was thinking there were likely smiles in heaven today, Mom and Grandma looking down to see the two sisters, busy about the place, dogs all lounging happily, watching us with half-closed eyes, dreamy tail-thumps any time we came near.


  1. Tail-thumps for you and your sister. Things will be just fine now. I wish that for you both.

  2. Smiles in heaven is a good thing, Sherry. I can definitely picture that. Interesting that I also have a sister named Lori, spelled the same way! I am glad things are working out so well for both of you.

  3. Thanks, kids. I was feeling, for a while, like I was holding up the whole sky with arms that were growing weaker. A relief to have life manageable now. Whew. Just lovely.

  4. For everything a time under the heavens as it goes and for you and your sister it sounds like a wonderful time. I admire your tenacity and know the years ahead will be awesome.

  5. Your write fills my heart! Thank you Sherry, you are warm and giving, and therefore the Universe gives back. May this be just the beginning of unexpected but deserved happiness, the best of your whole life! I loved the picture you painted! Lovely wildwoman, lovely life!

  6. It sounds like you've found a very happy and peaceful arrangement with your sister...I also have one sister, and I often hope that, when we're older, we'll finally end up living at least in the same town. I would like that a lot, because we've always lived far apart as adults.

  7. Sherry, I am so happy that you have this relationship with your sister. It's not every sister-sister relationship that allows for cohabitation.

    Funny how life turns out. When you give good to the world, it may not turn out exactly how you want it, but generally you are given things you need... and you have been given so much more! Love to Lori and to you, Amy (You'll like this:)

  8. Sherry this is a wonderful write. My sister and I have, over the past year, mended some fences and found our way back to a much closer relationship. It feels good and right. So, I understand the smiles from heaven, it's an extaordinary feeling.


  9. I love the reflection that lead to this write! It is lovely and reminds me how we need to see the view backwards to appreciate the view now~ I know your Mom n' grandmother would be smiling and perhaps you felt their spirits today, as you both smiled and enjoyed your bond~ I love the photo and your expression. I somehow feel you wore that smile today ;D xXx so glad you shared and that you n' Lori are together~


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