WINTER, December 2015

TOPICS: My Darling Mum: Joyce M. O'Toole / Free Preview / Until Next Time

Deborah O'Toole: Newsletter (December 2015)

Hello dear readers,

This newsletter is written with a heavy heart. I lost my beloved mother a few days before Thanksgiving, and would like to devote most of the following space to her. If not for her lifelong and loving encouragement, its doubtful I would have taken up writing in the first place. Without her I am left lost and bereft, as if a piece of myself is irretrievably gone. I'm told the pain of loss lessens over time, but at the moment find it very difficult to believe.

A special thanks to Mum's caregivers over the past year, including Lisa, Colleen, Caroline, Margaret, Analy, Faith, Ashley, Andie and Peg, and to the entire staff at Brighton Hospice who treated Mum with great care, dignity and respect until the end.

My Darling Mum: Joyce M. O'Toole

Mum was my hero. Long before she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, she knew something was wrong and did her best to fight against it. She constantly wrote notes to herself to remind her of things to do, telephone numbers, names and personal events. She fought to the end - both mentally and physically - to comprehend what was happening to her. Mum was the strongest person I have ever known, and I can only wish to someday be a fraction of the amazing human being she was.

Joyce & Debby O'Toole (1962). Click on image to view larger size in a new window.Mum loved spaghetti, honey-nut cheerios and chocolate. Her favorite beverages were Pepsi, coffee (with cream and sugar), and chocolate milk. She enjoyed music, her tastes running from generational favorites such as Elvis Presley and Tom Jones to English rocker Robert Palmer and country singer Keith Urban. Imagine my surprise many years ago when she took a serious liking to Robert Palmer's tune "Simply Irresistible," dancing to the rock-and-roll beat with glee. I said to her: "Really, Mum?" She just laughed and continued to dance, wagging her finger in the air.

Mum loved anything in miniature, and was also an avid devotee of crossword puzzles. She and my father made many trips to Wendover for a bit of gambling, always stopping for a hamburger on the way back home. Mum had unfailingly astute taste in clothes, matching outfits with shoes and other accessories in flawless fashion. While she appeared somewhat reserved and proper in front of people she didn't know well, Mum did have a devilish sense of humor when she let her hair down around family and close friends. One of our favorite back-and-forth repartees was tossing in the "F" word during normal conversation, just to get a reaction from each other. So "What's for dinner?" often became "What the f***'s for dinner?" as we collapsed with laughter.

Mum saw me through thick and thin, read every story I ever wrote, told me everything was going to be all right even when it wasn't, took joy in my happiness and sadness in my tears. She was more than a mother to me - we were like the best of friends, sisters even, who could talk about anything under the sun and often did. No subject was off-limits for us, which firmly cemented our unconditional love and unwavering trust in each other. With a quick glance or slight change in tone, we instinctively knew what the other was thinking or feeling without a word being spoken. Ours was a miraculous relationship, a true gift that will never be repeated in my lifetime.

Mum and I traveled to her hometown of Timmins, Ontario by train together some years ago, visiting places from her childhood and meeting many of her old friends. She recalled her youth, telling me stories about her teenage hangouts such as the Esquire Grill, Ellis Cafe, Kresge's (the equivalent of Woolworth's in America) and the Fern Cottage, where she always ordered "chips" with gravy (known as Poutine in Canada) and a coke.

Joyce O'Toole (1987) during our trip to Canada.

Our trip to Timmins in 1987 was an extraordinary experience not just for the beauty of the location and its people, but by the obvious joy the trip gave my mother. There were many whisperings of a lost love, giggling forays to her old hangout the Esquire Grill and regrets expressed at leaving her native country in the first place. Earlier this year we talked about moving back to Canada, and she was excited by the prospect. How I wish it had come to fruition.

There are hundreds more precious memories of Mum that I can draw on now and in the future for strength and humor, reflections which may eventually bring a smile to my face. I'm grateful for each and every one of those memories, and for the fifty-four years I was privileged to have her as my darling Mum.


Free Preview

Free preview of "Foofer & St. Nick" by Deborah O'TooleIn honor of Christmas, a full preview of Foofer & St. Nick is freely available. The short story can be read online in its entirety from now until December 26, 2015.

Foofer & St. Nick Book #3 in the Short Tales Collection, and tells the story of how Foofer celebrates Christmas. Read what gifts Foofer receives, and what he gives to others. Discover how "Santa Claus" is said in different languages as a highbrow friend enlightens young Foofer. The curious Foofer also learns the true meaning of Christmas, but only after he mistakes St. Nick as an intruder and chases him back up the chimney! More >

Until Next Time . . .

I don't see myself celebrating the holiday season with much enthusiasm this year. However, another newsletter will be coming your way in late March or early April 2016 - so keep your eyes peeled.

Until next time, happy reading . . .

Deborah O'Toole

December 1, 2015

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Irish Eyes Blog (Deborah O'Toole)  ~  Much ado about writing (and all else unrelated)...

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