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  • Mark Shupe


A conversation with the same witty banter we had when she was alive.

Dear Mom,

Hi, It’s me.

Sorry it’s been awhile since we chatted. It’s hard living in Calgary getting to where you are resting in Halifax with Dad to chat, but I guess where your spirt is now, you can hear me anywhere.

Who’s this talking? Mom, it’s your favourite son! No the other favourite son! No your other favourite son! Mom, no, he’s not even your son, he’s your son in law!

Mom, seriously, it’s Mark, I’m your only son who lives in Calgary. Are you kidding with me? I know you can’t say I was your favourite, son, but just blink twice if that’s a yes.


Okay, I now you don’t have a favourite. You loved all the kids the same. You gave every one of us everything you had. I hope you are getting some well deserved rest from all the worrying and energy and strife you had raising the six of us.

the whole nuclear gang.

Yes, I know you still fret about us looking down at us, but try not to, we are doing quite well. Well, pretty well. Life’s has it’s ups and downs, doesn’t it? I’m planning a trip to see Scott shortly. Do you know how brave he was when you passed away? I couldn’t believe his strength. He certainly helped me through that time. I try hard not to think about your sickness and passing. I keep thinking of what I could have done more to help you stay alive. You were in pretty good shape when I saw you just a few weeks earlier.

Remember us playing catch with the pumpkin? With you wearing the cowboy hat? Despite your astigmatism (which I will never forgive you for giving me by the way) you had really good had to eye coordination. If only the nursing home had let us know earlier about your infection, we might have convinced you to eat. I think you were getting ready to see Dad though even if you wouldn’t talk about him after he died.

Don’t know if you are keeping track of time but it’s mother’s day tomorrow. I thought it was time I caught up with you. I wish you could tell me more about your current experiences, but I understand there’s some celestial rules that prevent you from chatting.

I was thinking of you a lot during King Charles III coronation. I know you were probably watching. I wonder if you had the chance to meet his mum yet? I’m sure she’s busy, but maybe soon you will get the chance.

We got pretty close to meeting her when we went to London on our trip there, didn’t we? We still laugh about the fact that we got to go in the front entrance of Buckingham Palace when we visited because you were in a wheelchair. I didn’t tell you, but I was half scared we were going to get stopped by the royal guards for being trespassers. It would be like us to be arrested by men with funny hats. I think the best part of that visit was sitting on the back deck of the palace eating strawberries and whipped cream. Or maybe it was watching you in the gift shop. You sure like the royal souvenirs.

But of course nothing was as funny as our last day in England when we went to Windsor castle, and you suddenly bolted from the wheelchair to go into the last souvenir shop of our visit to scoop up some final mementos. I asked you where that energy came from and you said. “ I was saving it for something important.”

Like Stonehenge, Hyde park, the Tower Bridge weren’t worth it? I’m also amused that you are the only person I have met who enjoyed premium economy seats to business class seats. I hope you haven’t asked that you be moved from the prime cloud seats you should be in.

Don’t know if you are still following the Blue Jays but interesting news in baseball. They have introduced a pitch timer, which has sped up the games. Sorry about the time the Blue Jays won the world series, and we were right there at the sky-dome, and I didn’t pay for the scalper for tickets to the game. If I knew they were going to win that game six, I would have bought them for sure. That is one moment in my life I would surely like to relive. You certainly deserved that.

Hey, I still remember how to score a baseball game. Remember how you taught me to do that? I’m not sure why we needed two of us to keep an official score card for all the Expo games, but it was a lot of fun. We had some fun going to baseball games, though huh?

Remember we left that game in Boston just before the 9th inning? They were down 4 to 0, and ended up winning the game 8-4. And remember that time you took us to meet Rusty Staub! I think you were more excited then we were.

I know I don’t have to ask this, but how is it going with the heavenly choir? I’m sure you are right there in the middle somewhere. Are you influencing what songs are sung? Do you want me to send you some lyrics I wrote?

Yeah, I expected you wouldn’t want those. I think the only negative thing you ever said to me was that I couldn’t sing. Well, when you’re right, you’re right.

No, we haven’t moved back to Nova Scotia yet. You won’t believe it but comparable housing pricing in Nova Scotia seems to be more expensive than Calgary. And the taxes, hoo boy! Yeah, we don’t get it either. It sure wasn’t that way when we moved out. We keep exploring options, so maybe someday. I’ve grown to like Calgary a lot more now that I’ve retired. Yeah mom, I retired 18 months ago, I’m sure I told you. Well anyway since I’m retired I get to see Calgary in the daytime. Yeah no more going to work in the dark and coming back in the dark. It’s quite a nice place when it’s warm. We really enjoying sitting out on our deck in the backyard.

Still no great grandchildren, but our three kids are doing well, all independent, all working and have significant others, though none of them are married yet.

Some said news, little Thunder passed away last year. Maybe you’ve seen him? I know he brought you a lot of joy when you visited or when we sent you pictures. We miss him too.

I’ve been thinking about a lot about the genealogical work you have done lately. I had a bit of a health-scare, and it got me thinking I’d better write down everything I know about our family to give the kids a record.

Yeah, yeah, I’m okay. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. It’s impressive all the work you did charting the family tree. Since Lana and I both have started writing careers, we are really interested in Margaret Marshall Saunders. I hope I can find it in your records exactly what relation she was to us. It’s really impressive that her book, “Beautiful Joe” was the first Canadian book to sell over a Million copies. Lana’s latest book was just featured as one of the top books of the summer in Atlantic Canada books review. Isn’t that cool? Yes, I’ll pass on how proud you are. She says to pass on how much she misses you.

Speaking of reading, do you remember that book you use to read to me over and over again? The one about the racoon? I can’t believe it but I can’t remember his name? Was is Ricky Raccoon? I just saw a space movie about a raccoon in it. I got kind of emotional thinking about you reading that raccoon book to me over and over. I know I was a bit persistent.

Getting a writing career off the ground at my age isn’t easy despite my journalism degree, but you know how much I love reading and writing, so I am going to keep trying. I may be putting a little too much pressure on myself. I started a blog and get a little disappointed when I don’t get too many readers. Like many writers, I prefer writing to doing promotion. I was featured on local newscasts though for my adventure of walking every street in Calgary. Even in retirement, I’m trying to do too many things. Does that sound familiar? I don’t think that’s a trait I got from Dad, is It?

Are you still reading Harlequin romances? I’m not sure if that’s allowed in heaven but I hope so. You sure did enjoy reading them when you were alive.

Oh, maybe you know, but I am pretty sure I had a visit from Dad recently. It was just after my health scare. I am pretty sure it was a visit from Dad or I’m starting to have some of the visions that bothered you at the end. I am seeing a lot more information about Lewy Body Disease these days. I’m sorry that happened to you. You and Robyn Williams. I always said you two had a lot in common.

Dad was looking pretty darn good, though. I know he’s a lot happier now that you are with him. He had that silly little grin on his face. Hard to feel stressed when you see that. Anyway, before I saw him I was feeling a lot of stress, and suddenly my blood pressure was up dangerously high.

I wasn’t sure if Dad was telling me you guys were ready to see me, or to tell me to get my ass in gear and get looking after my health better. Yes, I know neither of you would use the phrase get my ass in gear but I took the advice. Remember how Dad used to carry around an emergency tin of tuna and had mustard with him all the time, so he could always have something healthy to eat or could wipe off mayonnaise and put mustard on his sandwich? I’m not quite there, but I’m eating a lot of tuna. I started eating meals at regular times. Yeah, haven’t done that since I was probably 12. Remember how you used to always use to leave me a supper plate in the fridge no matter how late I was coming home.

I fixed a bunch of other things, especially drinking more water and only water. My blood pressure is back down again. Started even doing some running within my walks, and for short sprints, weight corrected, I am as quick as I was thirty years ago (okay twenty years ago, never could lie to you Mom.)

So hope you don’t mind if I delay joining you for awhile longer. I think I have Dad’s will to live, so I ain’t going down quietly.

I didn’t mean this to be about me but I knew you would want to know how things were going.

Mom, again, just wanted to know how I appreciate everything you did for us, from all the clothes washing and meal making, and first aid and cleaning to helping with studies, to inspiring a love of sports and reading. I know you made a lot of sacrifices over you life and there was never a chance to properly repay you.

We had a long journey to get your estate settled, but everything is finalized and distributed. I know you will be glad the resources you left us are well appreciated. I only wish you had used more of it when you were alive to enjoy yourself more. Yes, Yes, I know you had everything you wanted. You’ll be glad to know your grandkids have learned to live frugally and simply like you. That’s a trait I got from both you and Dad and passed on to the kids.

Well that’s it for now. Say hi to Dad. I’ll try to chat more often. I have a chance to visit your resting place in a couple months so save up your questions! (And if you could sneak a few impressions of what the afterlife is really like, I’d appreciate it!)

Once again, thanks for everything. I know It’s cliché for everyone to say their mom was the best mom ever, but not every mom can be that, so someone’s lying, but I can say this: You were definitely the best Mom for me. I would certainly not be who I am without you. (for good or ill)

You and Dad sacrificed so much so that I could have a good life. I’m trying to pay it forward as they say now, but when you guys gave so much, that’s a hard thing to accomplish. I know thanks is not enough, but it’s what I can give you now.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to be so maudlin. I just want to make sure you knew I was thinking of you.

And oh, Have a wonderful Mother’s day!

Love Mark,

The eldest son - you know the one who used to go hide in the attic with his comic books.

I forgot! You did get to meet the Queen!

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1 comentário

15 de mai. de 2023

What a beautiful sentiment and tribute. This oozes love and and emits so much pride, from both sides of the clouds. You certainly captured my attention and made my heart swell. Thank you for getting so personal, authentic and courageous through it all. Glad you're still with us. Your readers will grow, your career is just getting started and you have so much to live for yet! Sarah Butland

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