I’m not very good with words. If I have to write a grant proposal or submission to a gallery, my mother would always edit it first. She was great at spelling and could catch any grammatical mistake I made.

As a child, mom taught me to remember ‘i’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’, and that dessert has two s’ because it’s richer than a desert. When I couldn’t remember the order of the Great Lakes, she came up with a silly sentence to help remember the first letter of the lakes in order. “Some, Men, Have, Earrings, On” S-M-H-E-O, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario. These are things I will never forget.

My mother taught me to knit and to sew- everything from a button on a jacket, to how to follow a pattern and sew my own clothes. Together we made doll clothes and quilts with appliquéd flowers, potholders and dresses. Mom taught me to cook and to bake; how to be a good hostess, and how to make a meal so that all the dishes are ready and hot at the same time. I have so many wonderful memories baking with mom. She made food with love and care. Food and good company are things our family traditions revolve around, with my parents at the center of our traditions and my mother the head of the kitchen. Mom showed us how to prepare food with nutrition, flavour and colour in mind. When we sat down for a family dinner, the food always looked amazing and nothing ever tasted better than mom’s cooking.

Ryan and I were married on August 10th. We will forever be grateful that my mother was part of our wedding day. She helped us so much. She made all the desserts for our wedding; with help from my sisters we had fancy custards, mini cheesecakes, and hundreds of beautiful cupcakes. Mom helped me plan and design details and helped me make ‘to-do’ lists. She sewed dozens of white fabric gift bags and helped us iron tablecloths. The day before the wedding we all set up the hall together and my mom was there working hard with us. On our wedding day she was so strong, it seemed the strongest she had been in a while. Before the ceremony my mother took me aside and told me she was so proud of me. She said I looked beautiful and that she loved me so much. She told me she loved Ryan and was so happy that we had found each other.

It’s easy enough to simply survive without the people you love…it’s much harder to LIVE without them. It’s hard to imagine our future now. It’s devastating to think of a Christmas without her, or any birthday or pottery sale. I’m trying not to get lost in sad thoughts, of all the things I miss about my mom and the future we can no longer share. But the truth is, I feel like I’ve been punched in the heart and left with an achy numbness. I know this heartbreak has rippled not only through my family, but also to everyone here today.

I don’t really believe in heaven; but it is comforting to me, to think that maybe Mom and my brother Martin are together somewhere now. I know that they are in our hearts. There are so many things to say mom. Thank you for making me the person I am today. I love you so much.