My First and Eternal Inspiration

In the Thanksgiving Day blog this year I mentioned that my Sister Nikki is, in so many ways, the inspiration for what I do. She is a graduate from the University of Toronto in the BPHE program and was a Varsity Athlete in two sports, so the obvious inspiration comes from our shared interest in her chosen field of studies. Less obvious, unless you knew our Mom, is how Nikki is her Mother’s Daughter and constantly giving of her time and effort.

My first and eternal inspiration for the studio and the ‘karmic project’ is my Mom. Mom went about her life doing for others constantly. Whether it was for Meals on Wheels, or Long-term Care, volunteering to instruct skating lessons, or as a gate-keeper for alpine ski races, Mom lived selflessly. She counseled wayward youth and became their mentor, as I was made aware upon a visit back home. Mom was an artisan, although she would humbly never claim to be, and freely gave her pottery to so many over the years as gifts.

My family was devastated when she passed suddenly from a massive pulmonary embolism that came about as a result of a blood clot from a broken ankle. At a ski hill in early summer 20 years ago, Mom had been at a raku firing where pottery is glazed in a bonfire instead of a kiln. She slipped on wet grass and one ankle was trapped under the other breaking three bones.

Months later my Mom was having breathing problems, and after a visit to the hospital she was released with what was thought to be angina. When Dad informed me Mom had been in the hospital I phoned her from Toronto where I was working at the time, and she told me in her cheery voice, “Don’t worry about me Mike, I’ve got a nitro puffer now. I’m just fine.” So we joked back and forth a bit and had a couple of laughs in light conversation. Three hours later my Dad called me with a tone in his voice I had never heard before. He said, “Son, I have the worst possible news…” Mom was 55 years old.

The legacy Mom left behind was obvious at her memorial service where the church was packed with standing room only. After the service the minister told our family that she had never seen that many attend a memorial service in all the time she was pastor, a testament to my Mother’s giving nature. In that moment I realized what I had taken for granted all my life; Mom affected all those around her with her kindness, happiness and grace.

It can be difficult to see the forest from the trees when you are given so much. At a time of great loss I realized how lucky I was to have had Mom as my biggest fan all of those years. There she was at the football field, the baseball diamond, the soccer pitch, the ski hill, the arena, regularly taking my sister and me to the beach, to the ceramics club, and all town events and celebrations. Fond memories of gardening with Mom, cleaning up the kitchen with her after dinner, trips to pick berries and hike in the woods still make me smile. She was my mentor, my teacher in life, and I now realize how much of a Momma’s Boy I was early on.

So much has happened in the last 20 years and I believe that Mom has had much to do with it. Each day I take a moment to think of her and what I can do for the greater good. Far from lip-service it is action that speaks most strongly; that was what she felt mattered most.

I am proud to have had such an inspiration as Mom. My hope is to make a fraction of the impact that my Mother was able to make look so easy. I can’t be thankful enough to have had my Mom as my first and eternal inspiration and my sister Nikki who embodies our Mom’s true inner nature. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate what I said with tears in my eyes in a dream I had last night, “I love you Mom and I miss you.”