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Assiniboine Park English Garden

The English Garden in Assiniboine Park was one of my mother’s favourite places to visit.

Today is the anniversary of Margery Naomi Brown’s passing, on June 28th in 2000 at the age of 78. I spoke with her on the last Sunday in June, and found out the following Wednesday that she was gone. And although it’s been 13 years, I remember that day as vividly as though it happened a mere week ago.

A year after I moved to British Columbia (1998), my boss sent me to a school in Victoria to do an installation (at the time I worked for a software company). I was on a ferry going to Vancouver Island, in the cafeteria having a bite to eat, when an older couple at a table about two over stood up and left. It took me a minute to realize that the woman had left her purse behind. When I reported it, the gentleman I spoke to asked me to describe the person. I did. Just then, the woman walked back into the cafeteria. I pointed and told him that the purse belonged to her. He gave me a funny look. It wasn’t until then that I realized I hadn’t described the woman correctly at all. Instead, I had described my mother.

I didn’t need a PhD in Psychology to know that I missed having conversations over lunch with Mum; going to The Tea Cozy in Osborne Village;  or window shopping the more expensive stores in Polo Park (we called it breathing the air – because that’s all we could afford). She had a sense of humour that manifested itself in surprising ways. She gave me gifts – a well-rounded education, a love of the Arts, a passion for writing, a strong sense of right and wrong and many other intangibles too numerous to mention – that I never really thanked her for.

And then there was the matter of electricity. I’ve been afraid of plugging in anything, especially new appliances, for as long as I can remember. On that Sunday, the last time I spoke to her, I was going to ask her if I had ever did the bobby-pin-in-the-socket thing as a toddler, but it slipped my mind. Next conversation, I told myself. After all, my grandmother lived until she was 94. I was thinking that we had plenty of time for her to answer those questions only she could answer.

As is the story of many mother-daughter relationships, we were best friends one day and mortal enemies the next. Yes, while I would like the little mystery of my history with electricity cleared up, most of all I regret not telling my mother often enough how much I loved her.


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