Last night I attended an appreciation event attended by over 1,000 of the city of Nanaimo’s movers and shakers for long-serving city councilman, Larry McNabb. After a successful career in professional hockey–McNabb was renowned as an aggressive player–the sport hero turned to politics. For 25 years he helped build up his adopted community, Nanaimo, so that it can boast today about having some of the finest community sports facilities in Canada among other numerous civic achievements. McNabb is leaving at age 71 (he has pancreatic cancer) an infrastructure legacy that those of us living in Mid-Vancouver Island will be able to appreciate for many years.
This got me thinking about my mother. Mom is also not currently enjoying the best of health at age 87. But, I doubt that you could get 1,000 people into her local convention centre and pay $25 each to attend an evening praising her accomplishments like Larry McNabb’s. Nevertheless, I think mom’s very real accomplishments are no less significant than Larry McNabb’s—perhaps even more significant in the long run. So I thought I would share with you a letter I’m sending today to my mom.
Just wanted to drop you a line to express how much I appreciate and love you. Why? Because you are so special in my life! Right from the start you wanted me, and you were willing to risk your life for me. Remember those straps you had to wear to hold your womb together with me inside after your appendicitis operation?
And then there is your bravery and resourcefulness to talk about. One of my earliest memories goes back to when you saved me and my brother from that burning house, the 200-year-old converted blacksmith’s shop in Amherst, New Hampshire, by bundling us up and taking us across the village green over to the retired Admiral’s house. Then in order to save the house you managed in time to interrupt the volunteer firefighters from playing cards so they’d come over and put out the fire.
As I grew up you imparted to me a sense of appreciation for family, and a curiosity about the world around me. Also you showed me how to bear up under adversities, the thorns on life’s rose, whether a terrible happenstance car accident, or a profoundly difficult divorce, and then a disappointing annulment.
You dared to discipline rambunctious boys. You helped me hone my sense of self-discipline and ethical consciousness. Sometimes it was by making me cut my own switch for you to use for some misbehaviour or by merely saying softly, “I’m disappointed in you.”
You appreciated my walk with God long before my father could. And it was you who modeled for me a generous and giving spirit.
With you I’ve always sensed your unconditional love for me.
In such things you taught me the most important lessons about what constitutes success in life. This world considers success as what you gain for self—fame, career, and money. But like God you showed by word and deed that true success comes from what you give and how faithfully you love.
With love, your son, Jeff.