It Wasn’t Supposed To Be Like That

Eudokia (Dolly) Klewchuk

I have this void in my life right now. My mother passed away on Oct. 27th at the age of 96. I had a habit of calling her twice a day, and visiting her four times a year. I live on the west coast of Canada, she lived in the middle. It wasn’t supposed to be like that.

I had moved out to B.C. with my husband and two children in 1979, thinking my mom and dad would follow. Who wouldn’t want to leave the frigid cold of Winnipeg winters for the nirvana found in Vancouver?  Well, she didn’t.

So, for all these years, I struggled with the fact our family was scattered. There continued to be a lot of coaxing, a lot of pleading, a lot of bargaining, but she was stubborn. There were many excuses as to why it wasn’t a good idea for her and Dad to move. “Who will take care of the graves?”  That was a big one. Mom had bought a family plot in Brookside cemetery on the outskirts of Winnipeg, where her three brothers were buried, a sister-in-law, her mother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, cousin and best friends. Every year, on one on my visits, we’d go out to the cemetery  and meet the priest who blessed the graves. She never forgot. This past year, during many phone calls, she’d tell me we had to go on my next visit and I had to remind her that we had already gone, right after Easter.

But that wasn’t the only excuse she gave for not moving. She worried that she might die and her body wouldn’t make it back. She told me of a friend who moved west, and despite her wishes to be buried back in Winnipeg, the family buried her in Vancouver. And then, there was the time, she saw a body (in a box) being carried along on a conveyor belt in the baggage section of the airport terminal. She didn’t want that, either. And she kept insisting it would cost too much to send her body back for burial. She’d heard a quote of $20,000 and when I tried to correct that misconception, she wouldn’t let go of that figure. And then, there was the weather. “It rains all the time,” she said. “I have arthritis.”

Or the other one was, “You’re never home.” It’s true, we travel a lot, with her in Winnipeg and a daughter with family in Toronto. But I tried to tell her, I’d be home more if I wasn’t traveling to Winnipeg four times a year, and if I was elsewhere, my other daughter here in B.C. would make sure she was okay.

And the last one was, “I’d be cooking all the time, making borscht and perogis.”  No one expected her to and no matter how hard I’d try to convince her, there was no convincing. She  was built that way—hard working and a fantastic cook and baker. In her early years, she and dad would bring care packages to B.C. – a box full of perogis she’d made, borscht, holupchis (cabbage rolls) and anything else she could stuff in.

After my father had died in 1985, she found companionship with a man from her village in the Ukraine. It wasn’t until he died over a year ago, that she began to regret she hadn’t moved.

What she left behind is so huge, there is no measure. She gave gifts of food and money–her   generosity had no bounds–but it was her love of family I’ll miss the most, always asking about each and everyone during every phone call. I was fortunate to have her as long as I did. Though there’s an emptiness now, I’ve been blessed with that love, and there is much to celebrate.  I will cling to memories and weave her wonderful stories together into a book–stories of my grandmother’s journey from the time of my mother’s birth in Ukraine in 1915 until they arrived in Canada in 1929. My tentative title for her memoir is No Time For Tears. You can believe, I’ll have many while I’m writing it all out.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this, Diana. You have such wonderful memories of your mom. I’m glad you’re writing her stories! Blessings to you in this difficult time….

  2. She looks a lovely lady. Do be comforted that she’s in a better place. Hope you find peace and comfort during this time, Diana. Your post was touching.

  3. So sorry for such sad news.. all our love and thoughts are with you Diana. from you far away family in Northern Ireland.

  4. Diana,

    We were saddened to learn of your mother’s passing. You were very fortunate to

    have had such a close relationship with her all these years- so many significant and

    memorable and personal conversations, interactions and events that you were able to

    share with her.

    We hope to see you and Rob when you come to Winnipeg in December.

    Love

    Rose and Arnold

  5. Thank you for your comments. What has been surprising to me, is the emptiness I feel now that my mother is gone. It’s not that I’m lost, as I have a wonderful family, people to lean on. It’s just that I miss her. I was blessed to have her in my life.

  6. Diana,
    First, please let me say that I am very sorry for the loss of your dear Mother, my(great) Aunt Dolly. She was a truly amazing woman who helped me learn about my late grandfather, her brother, Mike. Actually, it was a lot of her words flowing through your amazing pen that brought the stories to life. I thank both of you for that.

    Lastly, “It wasn’t supposed to be like that” is a wonderful title that also hits home for me. I, too, feel the incredible loss of my Mother (your cousin) every single day. While “it wasn’t suposed to be like that,” it was and we find a way to move on to find a new way it is supposed to be. Blessed by memories and opportunities, we move forward with the many little gifts left behind by our Mothers. Bless their souls!

    I’ll give you (& Robert) a hug when I see you in a few days!

    Laurie

  7. Hi Diana, I have read this post thrice already and I still cant figure out what to say to comfort you. Cos I know no words will ever fill this void. I am sorry.

  8. Oh, Nina. You are so sweet. Thank you for your caring. It’s the human condition, huh, to go through the good and the bad. It just looks different for each one of us. Hugs.