The hardest thing I have ever had to do

Mom & Dad

Sandi Lalonde August 18, 1946 – February 8, 2011

“Call Me Sandi!”

If you were a friend of a 16 year old me, that is probably the first thing you heard my Mom say when you met her – “Call Me Sandi!”

It was said with that unique larger than life “Call Me Sandi” attitude. Those of you who knew my Mom in another time probably remember that Sandi. The Sandi who loved to laugh, who’s exuberance, zeal and brash attitude made her a sassy broad in all the best senses of that term. As I have been thinking back on my Mom over these past few days, I have been thinking a lot about “Call Me Sandi.”

“Call Me Sandi” – a lover of all things cherub and angel, of things dainty, precious and delicate. Of Elvis, and of her family.

“Call Me Sandi” was a scrapper – she never gave up. Stubborn and headstrong, she could be as tenacious as a pit bull. I often grew up thinking my mom coined the term the best defense is a good offense. Which is, perhaps, why the past few years have seemed especially difficult as I watched a scrapper fade.

Mom was a proud homemaker, but when times got tough would take on extra work as a medical receptionist, a teacher aide or whatever else was required to make ends meet.

She was also a crafty lady – she never met a craft that she didn’t like. She cherished working with ceramics, floral arrangements, swags, dolls and anything else that required imagination and creativity, and she often gave these creations away to friends, family members and even acquaintances who admired special pieces.

Mom loved to bake, and I remember when I was a kid that Christmas baking season began around the same time as the first day of school. And even though we were only a family of 5, by the time Christmas rolled around Mom and Dad had stockpiled enough Nanaimo bars, date squares, slices, Cinnamon rolls, puffed wheat cake,nuts and bolts, rice krispie squares, rum balls. matrimonial squares, rocky road squares, Maple fudge, chocolate fudge, runny fudge, peanut butter cookies and great shortbread cookies to feed a family of 35 for 5 Christmases. When I asked my childhood friends this week about their favorite memories of my Mom, it amazed me how many people’s responses included memories of my Mom’s baking.

When my sister and I arrived at the house Wednesday night, we discovered a book of Mom’s that my sister had given her some years ago. It was a kind of diary called Reflections from a Mother’s Heart – your life story in your own words. It turns out, Mom made a few entries in the book and answered some of the questions, and we would like to share with you some of Mom’s earliest memories – memories that we, too, are just discovering.

What was your favorite pastime as a child? My favorite pastime was playing with paper dolls and dressing up and putting on plays with my sister Dee and all the neighbour girls. I also liked playing school and I was the teacher as we were the only family to have chalk and a chalk board.

What are your earliest memories of church? I went to church when I was six. My earliest memory was that the minister talked and talked. It was a very long service.

List one special memory you have of each of your brothers and sisters.

  • Pat – Lots of fun. Played games with me.
  • Viv – Taught me Grade 5 math and gave me perms.
  • Dot – Took me along for rides in the car with her and her boyfriends. Bought me a dress.
  • Dee – Taught me to twirl a baton.
  • Eileen – When her and I would fight, she would take my clothes and hide them, especially if I had a favorite skirt or sweater. Eventually she gave them back.
  • Al – Gave me cigarettes (funny. I’ll bet there are a lot of people who could say the same about my Mom). He let me use his nice sweater.
  • Dick – Built us forts and played with me.

Family relationships are seldom easy, often complicated and full of twists and turns that can sometimes take you into dark places. You all know. You are all part of families. These relationships bring with them the highest highs and the lowest lows. But at the heart of it all is always love. No matter how dark things get, love endures. It is the glue that holds us together. The light that illuminates. And it is love that has brought us all here today to pay tribute to my mom.

Just call her Sandi.

Excerpts from the eulogy I gave to my Mom on February 12, 2011

2 responses to “The hardest thing I have ever had to do

  1. Jody Cadieux

    Wow, Clint. This was the first time I have seen this. I am sitting here in my kitchen and you made me cry! You have a way with words my friend. Incredible really. Thank you for this moment. It was precious.

  2. Joanne Fontaine

    Thank you so much for posting this Clint. I wasn't at Sandi's service so missed the beautiful memories that we all have of her. Happy to see your beautiful words today.