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Silliness at your 70th birthday.

The important stuff. The really, really, really important stuff.

Maman.

So hard to believe you are gone, and I will never, ever, be able to wrap my arms around you again. When I left Vancouver for Baku 2 weeks ago, I did not want to get on the plane. It felt like another farewell, a final good-bye. The return to “normal”. But it isn’t “normal”. In my definition of “normal” you are home, we Skype on Saturdays, and I get to come home and see you. It is purely selfish, I know. For if this were the case you would still be struggling with an illness that is relentless in its taking over of your body. And I do not want that for you. You deserve better. You deserve to be free. To sing, to play with your grandchildren, to lead the choir, to never be home, to dance, to run along the hills of Ireland, to eat as much chocolate as you want, and to light up every room you enter. Hopefully you are now doing all of that…and more.

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Our last night in Dublin – after a 10-day trip through Ireland. When we started out to see the Irish Dancers you said “do we have to stay all evening?” Yvon and I assured you we could leave whenever you wanted. Then we got there and you made your way to the front of the stage, and lit up the dance floor. So much for leaving early!

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Smooching with Noah – always ready for a hug and kiss, especially when it came to your grandchildren! And who could blame you, they are all pretty darn cute.

I’ve been told that this is not an end, but a new beginning – a new relationship with you. I suppose it’s true. That’s pretty much what happened with dad. So I will fumble my way and figure out what this looks like. Meanwhile, I will keep thanking you. You have been my anchor – allowing me to run free and go do whatever it is I do, always there with a smile and the words “gros hug”. You have been an incredible role model teaching us all about patience, strength, unconditional love, generosity, laughter, determination, being calm, faith and grace. As you slipped away, this didn’t end…it got stronger. I can only hope that when my time comes I can be as beautiful and serene.

I was watching a documentary on Queen Elizabeth a while back, and when she spoke about Lady Diana’s death she said “to grieve means you have loved deeply”. She was right. So I will take the pain, the mourning. For without it I would never have felt the love, the warmth, the joy, the laughter, the intense happiness.

Although the pain never really goes away, the grief is less intense. Already feelings of warmth and love sit beside it as memories come back of time spent with you. It is those memories, those feelings, I will treasure and forever be grateful for. How lucky am I that I get to call you “Maman”.

A few more treasured moments from a life well lived – proof that a “rich” life has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with the love and joy you brought to all of us. You are, and will remain, deeply loved and missed by us all.

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Always full of surprises. An unlikely Halloween costume for you. Not sure why we didn’t colour your hair like this more often!

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Aaahh, such a sense of humour. Not a bad pose for a staunch Catholic!

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Stylin’ – with your mum.

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Yvon said it best.

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Playful on your way to Germany.

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Love this pic. Another shining example of how much we all love you.

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Um, yes. That is my mum shooting tequila! For someone who didn’t drink…that was impressive.

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Hard to believe this was just a month before you left us.

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The start of an amazing family.

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Years and 10 children later…you still fit into your wedding dress. Crazy.

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My mum, the activist! What an amazing night, watching you up on stage delivering a beautiful and powerful speech on why Quebec should not separate.

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Foot loose and fancy free!

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Ah, such a young lady!

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Too cute!

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Is that you running the train station?

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7 kids, and a visit to the zoo. Or wait, was the zoo our house?

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I just love this photo of you. That look on your face really says it all.

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Still my all-time fave of you and dad. Moving into your first apartment together.

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Are we boring you? )

Have another...

Have another…

Seriously...who said you could wear such a sexy dress?

Seriously…how can you eat all that dessert and still look so damn good?

Our first night in Ireland. Yvon - thank you again for coming up with that idea, and for letting me parachute in on it!

Our first night in Ireland. Yvon – thank you again for coming up with that idea, and for letting me parachute in on it!

So darn cute.

So darn cute.

Tending bar at The Spaniard, in county Cork.

Tending bar at The Spaniard, in county Cork.

Thank you Dan for taking mum back to Winnipeg. I know she loved that trip.

Thank you Dan for taking mum back to Winnipeg. I know she loved that trip.

Christmas 2013. Thank you for creating such an amazing family. Hard to believe there are 5 grandchildren and 1 child missing from this photo...

Christmas 2013. Thank you for creating such an amazing family. Hard to believe there are 5 grandchildren and 1 child missing from this photo…

LOVE.

LOVE.