A little over a week ago I finished packing my possessions into boxes and bags, rented a van, and moved most of what I own into storage so that I could come to France for the summer. Overall, my worldly possessions don’t amount to much: the things in my bedroom, and some kitchen implements, and that was about all. I own no furniture myself, and had no other rooms to empty in my student suite. Yet the process of packing, renting a van, bringing said van to my apartment to load, and transferring those assorted boxes and bags into storage was exhausting. By the time I got home after returning the van all I wanted to do was curl up with a mug of tea and a TV show and not move for a long time.
All told I think I moved my possessions about four or five kilometers.
A little under twenty years ago, my mother oversaw the packing up of an entire house worth of possessions, bundled her three children of ages ranging from infant to 6 years of age onto a plane, and moved the lot of us and our things clear across the country.
Of course she had the help and support of my dad, and most likely any amount of help from friends and family. I can’t say for sure who all was involved because I don’t really remember the event myself. I have vague memories of having lived in Ottawa, followed by slightly less vague memories of ending up in BC, but no memory of the transition. What I do know is that the reality of my dad being a pilot means there are often times when my mother undertakes these demanding tasks on her own. I also know that our cross-country move was only one of the times I witnessed her handle the challenge of managing our family with strength, grace and endless resourcefulness. Given that my three brothers and I have a tendency to scatter in completely opposite directions, this is no mean feat. There is no need for me to remember this clearly to be impressed by it.
Those who have followed my various exchanges and travels have sometimes told me that I am brave for doing these things. Not everybody would be willing to move to a country where they don’t even speak the language and fumble through the process of adjusting to and living in it, just for the sake of having done so. Having done it twice now, I can see why. It isn’t easy, and there have been times when the confusion, exhaustion and homesickness were so overwhelming part of me wanted to concede defeat and go home.
I owe the fact that those thoughts never lasted long, and that those exchanges were some of the best times of my life, to my mother’s tireless example. I don’t necessarily remember every single thing she’s done for me – our move is one example. But I do know that everything she’s done, including the things I don’t remember, have helped shape me and made it possible for me to do what it is I do today.
All this to say: Mom, thanks for everything you have done and continue to do.