This past September, my mom sent a text message. “Redicop’s 50th wedding anniversary is canceled. I think Tante Marie has the flu.” Hmmm, Interesting. The next day, my mom again. “Tante Marie is very sick.” OK, mom’s worried.
A few days later more messages. “Pancreatic cancer. Stage 4. It’s the worst kind.” Not really sure what all this means. Sure doesn’t feel good. So, one minute you’re fishing with your grandchildren and the next you’re sent to Winnipeg for a cough that’s not going away? And then no hope?
Oh, there’s always hope. We believe in hope.
Get the family together. Call the brothers. We got this. Let’s pray. Let’s call every practitioner. Every kind of specialist. We search online. Suddenly, we’re all experts. Change her diet, all organic, no sugar, no dairy. How ironic. Tante Marie, a vegetable garden behind her house. And she had a green thumb. She could grow a rose bush, like no one.
A few weeks later, my cousin calls. My Tante Marie is looking for the best organic chicken; she wants to cook one for my mom’s birthday. “Maybe from the Hutterites, or Vita Health? Can you bring one from the city?” I assure her I can.
The next day, a house full of laughter, everyone’s together. Birthday dinner for my mom. Delicious braised chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, and homemade raisin bread. Brothers are visiting; we’re all singing. Amazing Grace. We all know what’s coming.
3 months later, the service. We’re not giving her up quietly. She had some spark. Bought a cell phone and taught her entire family to text. Brothers in Alberta, sisters in Manitoba. We had all done our best. Children and sisters by her side. My dad’s playing his accordion. The Rempel’s sing. The children speak and the message is clear. Beyond the anguish, there is peace.
The next day, I wake up to the most comforting waft of roast chicken. My mom’s in the kitchen, preparing a roast chicken dinner, to be delivered to her sister’s family who have just lost their mom.