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Remembering Ma


It's a cold day at the farmette. The snow actually talked back to me with a hard crunch when I went out in the pre-dawn to feed the birds and get the paper.

I realized last week that it's been 10 years since my mom, Audrey (Heidt) Harris died. I can hardly believe it. So I thought I'd do a little homage to her.

I love this photo we found of her when she was a teenager. She seems so care-free playing with one of the many pooches she had through her life.

She was a farm girl, through and through. She was the youngest of seven, and during WWII, when her brothers were otherwise occupied, had to pitch in, doing chores, haying and working hard with her mom and dad to keep the home fires burning. She and the whole family took a real hit when brother Cyril didn't make it back.

But, as with every setback she ever encountered, Ma bounced back and showed her steely resilience.

She and dad married shortly after the war in 1948 and shortly after that had my older sister Barb, followed 13 months later by Bob. After a bit longer hiatus, Dan was next and - surprise - nine years later yours truly came along in 1963. Younger sister Sandra made her debut two years after that.

I don't remember this Christmas - I was a bit young - but obviously a happy little camper in the homemade baby entertainer. Ma made our wee bungalow in Frome a real home. She and dad carved a little one-acre place of their own out of the front pasture of Grampa Heidt's farm. Built the house themselves.

Ma loved telling the story about how the clay was so hard they had to blast out the foundation with dynamite. The bang was so loud that some poor guy driving his VW Beetle along Highway 3 in front of the construction site actually stopped the car and got out to check all four tires.

She was very musical, and at one point we had both an organ and a piano in the dining room. Here she is striking up a tune with her grandson Mitchell. With Dad on the fiddle, the two of them plus a couple of friends made a little band that would go around to the senior's homes to entertain the residents.

She instilled in her kids that hard-working ethic and strong resilience. All five of us have had varying degrees of heartache and troubles in our lives, and we're still standing.

Audrey also had a fairly healthy streak of stubbornness and the kind of get-things-done attitude that saw her cut out the wall between Sandy's and my bedroom one day while dad was at work and we were at school. The job had been bugging her - and dad wasn't quite quick enough to fix the fact that there wasn't enough light getting into my little sister's room. So, we arrived home to a great, gaping hole that eventually was made into a pretty decent archway.

She was kind and generous - volunteering with the United Church Women at all the suppers, scrutineering at the polling station during elections and, at one point, doing a little hairdressing for the ladies around Frome.

She loved her kids and grandkids fiercely and forever.

The picture below was taken at Mom and Dad's 60th wedding anniversary in 2008. Little did we know she'd be gone only three months later.

Ten years. I still miss her. But I know she's hard-wired in my DNA and in four other very fortunate siblings. Love ya, Ma.

Cripes. Where did the time go? Until next week.


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