This 007 Fem Bond was just about to crack the case of why I survived 5 car Accidents and 1 Shotgun Hostage and then something awful happened. My mom was diagnosed with Cancer. Let me go back to the beginning to tell you about who my mom, Jude Flood was.
My mother used to work on the “Hill”, Ottawa’s place of Parliament. She was an Executive Assistant to one of the MP’s who’s office happened to be right near our former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Pierre enjoyed my mother’s company and would stop by her office to say hello. Eventually my mother organized the biggest Octoberfest Gala on the hill. She even got the Mayor of Munich to attend. Right after this photograph was taken by the hill official photographer, Pierre leaned leaned into my mother’s ear and said, “Judy – ‘One heck of a party. Well done! Now how can you get me the hell of out here?” Pierre liked his parties…for a short time.
I was just getting close to figuring out why there seemed to be something working against me in this life. Why I had been in five car accidents and 1 shotgun hostage. I was getting so close and then this cancer business happened in the middle of it all. I was still just in the beginning of my insurance battle. I was right in the thick of it all.
Before I share the day I found out my mom had cancer, I am going to go back and time to the beginning.
My mom was born in Ottawa on August 1st, 1962. A true Leo – her most defining characteristic – too of a Leo – she loved to be the life of the party. She loved to party. Not all the time of course. She could throw a damn good party. I grew up with lively family reunions and a band in my living room for her 40th. I’ll never forget that one. She was one of four siblings ( two sisters and one brother) to an Irish decent school teacher, my grandmother Maudella McColgan. My grandmother died when I was five years old. My only memory of her was of her bringing me chocolates. I was told she was a remarkable woman and rightly so for being a french and art teacher at the time. My mother’s father was in the war and I know very little about him except I know he had large hands and was very handsome. He died when my mother was only fifteen years old. They lived in downtown Ottawa.
My mother was described as a free spirit (apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) and in an attempt to settle her down, she was sent to private school at Iona Academy in Alexandria, Ontario. I remember her always saying how upset and hard it was to be pulled out of school to go and care for her dying father at 15 years old so that her mom could continue to work and earn a pay check to pay the bills and feed the family including her younger sister at home.
She has albums of her at school and I used to love going through them and seeing the outfits and fun times. A classier Grease Lightening reality.
There is a whole lifetime of memories I don’t know about for my mom. These are snippets of stories I remember. I know that she was beautiful and uplifting and fun. I know that she cared about all of us and cared about how we did in school, how we dressed presentable and had fun with our friends. We grew up in the country and she was concerned about our experiences and made sure to enroll is in countless sports, activities and clubs so we were socialized around other children. My favorite photograph of her is this one above in the green satin gown. I always thought she looked so elegant, breathtaking, honestly regal in this photograph. I always wanted to see her like that again. 25 years later and a bit heavier this was a little girl’s “princess” wish that couldn’t realistically be. I also wanted her to be happy like she was in the photograph. She didn’t always seem this way to me.
Who was Jude? Jude was a beautiful woman who knew how to dress well. She was incredibly artistic and painted many oil paintings. Mostly of nature, the outdoors, sunsets, mill’s and cowboys for my father. This reflected her love of nature in the real world as well. She loved thunderstorms and I remember would call us out into the sun porch to count the strikes after the thunder would roll. She had such a flare with decorating a home and would often to mini-makovers on her friends and relative’s place. She was comfortable wearing hats and had many. Scarves too like in the photo above. Her nickname to some of her second nieces and nephews was “Gypsy Lady.” She loved children and encouraging them to be strong and have fun.
She loved to talk. She counselled many friends on the phone for countless hours. People loved to be around her. She loved to entertain and did everything up right. We had a one reunion and a large summer party in the 100’s on our family property by the pool. She loved games and was clever at scrabble, trivia pursuit and tons of card games. She used to play euchre and rummy for hours. She had killer dancer legs and could dance like nobody’s business. She loved music, and our I grew up listening to her favorites. Elvis at the top of the list, Anne Murray, Abba and Neil Diamond. Hell, she met Elvis once. I’ll tell that story here another time. My mother was intelligent, swift, quick thinking and fun. That second set of eyes never left the back of her head. She loved to have a good time. She loved christmas and was incredible at bringing that spirit alive every year in our home. She had a flare for everything artistic really. My father and her designed and built our family home and 3-4 others. She loved the holidays, any excuse to celebrate. She decorated our house for St.Patrick’s day! St.Patrick’s day was like a second christmas in our home. She used to make a gigantic green shamrock cake out of 3 hearts cake tins every year. She loved family and encouraged family interactions in our immediate family and our relatives.
After she worked on the hill, she had my brother and I. She was sick for a little while because of this and became a full time mom. Later on she became the President of the Manotick Fringe Festival for a couple years before it even moved to Ottawa. I moved away for University at 19 and returned only for 3 years to complete by college diploma and moved to Vancouver when I was 22. My relationship with my mother was a constant tug of war. I think at some point I forgot why I was mad at her, and kept on being mad at her. I still loved her, but I was mad at her.
I loved my mom. I hated my mom.I know hate is a strong word, but I did. Parts of me really hated her. That teen angst scream many hear, “Oh yah? I hate you!” never really left. I had good reason and maybe not so good reason and reasons I didn’t even know. Actually those were the most important of all. If only I had known those reasons before she died. I guess, I guess this was the way it was supposed to be. It did not make it any easier at the time. It doesn’t make it any easier today.
My mom cared about me, don’t get me wrong and I for her. We just had a hell of way of showing it. And there were many poignant, deep and tragically beautiful reasons for this. As far as I remember, I didn’t really want to be around my mom. At the same time, there was a part of me that very much wanted to be around her. This was quite deep and quite invisible to me actually. She annoyed me. I thought she was silly. Sometimes I thought she was scary. Sometimes she seemed so big to me and strong. I also was confused by her. She didn’t always seem happy to me. Sometimes she seemed incredibly happy, dancing up a storm in my kitchen with my Dad or her brother.
As long as I can remember, my mom and I were at each other’s throats. We didn’t really “get along” whatever, however that looks for mom and daughter. I know everyone’s relationship with their mother is different, full of so many complex defining reasons – generational, economical, cultural, day to say situational. Then there is karma. Oh that blasted karma. It is also the single most important external relationship every single person has. The one they have or don’t have with their mother. Why is this?
I’ll tell you why I was so mad at her next time.
She also made the best lasagna in the world.
• On Deck: Dancing Queen by ABBA
• Locale: Hardwood Banquette, Starbucks, Toronto
• Mood: Wired and tired. Moving and another surgery in 3 weeks.