I am lying here in my incredibly cozy bed on this glorious Saturday afternoon. It is a bluebird day, an old hippie term to describe that incredible blue with shades of violet sky that reflects snow-capped mountains, when there are no clouds to interfere, just pure and brilliant sunshine.

It is minus 30 today in Muskoka, and although no mountains in my sight line, the sun is streaming in through my windows and it is so incredibly sparkly out on the lake as the sun beams dance and laugh over the brilliant white of the snow.

Long ago in my youth I remember finding my mother on sunny, winter days lying down on the floor upstairs in our house, the window wide open, she in her winter coat, putting her face and upper body into the sun that was coming through the window. She said it helped immensely with her mood and just allowed her to rest for a brief period, as she was never a person to take time for herself and just be. At the time, I thought she was a bit odd, but I now know the power of taking that moment just for yourself. In solidarity with my mother, I have decided to lie in my bed for the whole day and maybe tomorrow, and feel the warmth of the sun on my being, and for the first time in my life truly rest my soul.

My mom passed away yesterday.

I didn’t really think I would feel that sad because it has been such a long, protracted goodbye. My mother is the only person I have ever met that for the most part would absolutely never discuss death, her wishes when she died, nothing, nada. Once though she conceded and said “Well, Gaye, if I were to die….” I replied with “Mom, If??” Death and taxes mom the only sure thing in life.” Alzheimer’s is horrible as you lose them bits at a time. I thought that the ten- year goodbye had given me ample time to grieve, and that I could just take a pass on that messy business called grief, but I think I might have that wrong. Death is difficult no matter how long you have been preparing for it.

My parents made a fantastic and monumental decision in 1972 when my mom took an inheritance she had received and purchased two lots on an island on Lake Muskoka, erecting a modest cottage filled to the brim for 50 years of her family making lifelong memories. It was her true “happy place” and from that day forward she went on to see her 5 children produce 12 grandchildren and then 12 great grandchildren, all of whom developed a love of water, nature and family connectivity. Family was everything to my mom.

My husband and I purchased a mainland 100- year -old farmhouse/cottage several years ago now, because of that love of Muskoka and the realization that this is where we want to make memories with our adult children, their children to come and our many nieces and nephews and their growing families.

The family cottage is now no more, but we had hoped that mom and dad who had found it increasingly difficult in their 80’s to get into the boat to get across to the island would be able to come and spend their last years here. Sadly, dad died shortly after the purchase, but mom, even though 5 minutes after she would leave and couldn’t remember being here, experienced peace and happiness in the moment, while visiting a new happy place in Muskoka.

For those of you who read my last blog after mom was deemed palliative and given 6 weeks to live – turned out to be 9 months because she fought that death sentence tooth and nail – you will be happy to know that we watched Mr. Bean right to the end, and she went to her happy place, now Muskoka in the Sky to be with those that she loves. Although, she could no longer eat ice cream bars, at great personal sacrifice I consumed a few for her. J

For the first time in my life, I am finished being a caregiver. My book, The Compassion Junkie: From Diapers to Depends, It Never Ends! can for now be changed to The Compassion Junkie: (retired from elder care) From Diapers to Depends, It Does End!

I will be blogging again more frequently. With my mom’s death my book is pretty much finished and I hope to have it at the publisher’s shortly. It took a huge turn 8 months ago and that is why yet again it has been delayed. I hope in the coming weeks to share excerpts with you.

Enjoy this beautiful day and each day find moments of contentment in just being fully present in the moment that you have, right now. Learn the incredible wisdom in suspending our collective need to be Human Doing’s rather than revelling in truly experiencing Human Be-ing.

If you can, carve out time in this insanely busy world and take a day, pile your pillows and coziest blankets up into the most wonderful nest, stay in your pyjamas, find some sunbeams and just be.

Find your rays of sunshine
Categories: Grieving

56 Comments

Kim Hatfield · 30 January 2022 at 15 h 43 min

😢 I am 6+ years past mom’s passing, Gaye and still take those days occasionally to just “be”. Sending you much love as you grieve your loss. May you find peace as you navigate through your memories that will be with you always.

    Laura · 30 January 2022 at 16 h 15 min

    Gaye, sending you big virtual hugs!!! I woke up from a nap to find your update in my email. I cannot remember the last time I had a warm cosy my time nap! Your insights into self care are truly welcome and necessary. Thinking of you! Laura and Ken

      Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 10 h 04 min

      Dear Laura,
      Thank you very much for your virtual hug. Will be so happy when we don’t have to do virtual anymore! Isn’t it ironic that you gave yourself the wonderful gift of that kind of nap and then my blog popped up when you woke up. I love when things like that happen. Have naps more often!!!
      xo

    Diane Armstrong · 30 January 2022 at 18 h 16 min

    Hi Gaye
    My condolences to you.
    My Dad took 10 years to die. He had dementia and then he couldn’t walk anymore.
    He sat in a Gerry chair strapped in and begging me to get him out and take him home.
    He was 96 years old when he died.
    I understand your loss. Remember who she was. I love your story of your mom lying on the floor
    and taking in the sunshine with the windows open.
    I am sure there are many more memories…she will always be in your heart.
    Peace be with you.

      Gaye Gould · 7 February 2022 at 12 h 30 min

      Thank you very much Diane for your comments. My heart breaks for your fathers last years and you having to witness that. I feel so badly for you. Dementia is such a horrible disease. It robs you and them of their life, little by little. I hope you have found peace now.

    Myra Vanderwoude · 30 January 2022 at 21 h 28 min

    Gaye
    You captured sunbeams and spilled them into a passage that makes us understand the deeply rooted bond between a mother and daughter. How wonderful to know that her lfie decisions, like building a cottage, altered how future generations would experience the beauty of nature, the warmth of sunshine, and the strength of family. I am so sorry for your loss. You are a great daughter and took such good care of her. Love, Myra

      Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 10 h 02 min

      Dear Myra,
      You and your sisters know the deeply rooted bond between mother and daughter. The dedication you showed your mother for so many years was truly wonderful.
      I miss you and hope that we can get together soon for a walk and a visit.
      xoxo

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 20 h 59 min

    Hello Kim

    Thank you.
    I take great comfort in my memories.
    xo

    Gaye Gould · 7 February 2022 at 12 h 23 min

    Thank you so much Kim. Glad you can take those days for yourself. It helps you feel closer to your mom.

Carolyn · 30 January 2022 at 15 h 55 min

God bless you Gaye. I miss my mother every day of my life.

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 01 min

    Thank you dear Carolyn. You have been such a part of my life and my aging family’s life for so long. You are a wonderful physician, dear friend, and you have helped me so many times with your wisdom on how to help the elderly be more comfortable in their old age. xoxox

Linda Henshaw · 30 January 2022 at 15 h 57 min

My condolences Gaye. My friend died Friday night and I’ve taken a couple days to “just be.” Cried a lot. Laughed some, talked with friends and have found some kind of peace in remembering things that were. She wasn’t my mom but we used to call her “Mother S” because she was always mothering someone in a good way. I’m glad you gave yourself time to just be – probably hard when you are as active as you are. Expecting someone’s death might make us think we are prepared but that does not make it so. Hugs from this non-hugger!

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 08 min

    Dear Linda,
    I am so sad for you in the loss of your friend. I know how hard that is.Thank you for your kind wishes at a time when you are grieving. Means the world to me. I am honoured that a non hugger is sending me hugs! xo

Mel Harding · 30 January 2022 at 16 h 06 min

With love and understanding I send you the biggest hug and my sympathies for this journey ahead. My mom has been gone 8 years now and although grief doesn’t end, just changes and shifts to different spots. I know they walk with us closely, hug us and we feel we need to get a sweater on then, watch over us. She is so very proud of you and for caring her most valued times forward. I too find it so comforting and will take a pause as you mentioned to carve out some time for me. Biggest hugs to you 💖✨💖 and Love ❣️

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 12 min

    Thank you for the hugs, Mel. I will know my mother is watching over me from the other side when I see her in the bathroom mirror saying, “Pull your cheeks back that way the wrinkles don’t show so much!!”
    xoxox

Susan · 30 January 2022 at 16 h 34 min

That was a beautiful reflection and beautiful pictures to remember your mom on the day after her passing. I am grieving with you and I send you my love.
I left home at 17 and mom died when I was 21. I saw very little of her during those years and never really got to know her, never received advice or benefited from her wisdom and life experiences. I missed her at all those milestones of my life.
You are grieving now, but how fortunate who were to have her with you most of your life. I am sure you cherish all those memories of her in your heart forever.

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 14 min

    Dear Susan,
    I am very grateful I had my mom for as long as I did and that I certainly was able to benefit from her wisdom and her presence. I am so very sorry you did not have that opportunity with your own mom. She died way too young – who knows what might have happened in terms of your relationship had she lived longer. So sad.
    Thank you for reaching out and saying your beautiful words to me. Love Gaye

Darlene Josephson · 30 January 2022 at 17 h 13 min

Gaye: So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your much-appreciated words!❤️❤️❤️

Darlene Josephson

    kim Neuendorff · 30 January 2022 at 18 h 23 min

    It’s always a wonder how we need to be reminded to just BE and that life is so precious and fragile. How can we ever be truly ready to say goodbye to someone we love so much especially our Mothers who in most cases have been such on constant in our life. Sending you a big Hug Gaye and hope that those dancing rays of sunshine will always bring you peace knowing that your Mom is right there with you. My sincere condolences. Kim xo

      Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 16 min

      Thank you very much Kim for your beautiful message.
      xoxo

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 15 min

    Thank you so much much, Darlene.

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 20 min

    Thank you so much Darlene.

Carol V · 30 January 2022 at 17 h 44 min

Rest In Peace Dorothy!
So glad that, as a cottage neighbour for over 40 years, I was able to witness Dorothy in her Happy Place. Both she and Jack were the best neighbours anyone could hope for and the happy memories from all those years will live on in my mind forever.
Glad you are taking the time to mourn Gaye. Your patient care of your mother through all these years was surely appreciated by her even if it sometimes did not appear so. You can feel good about yourself; you never abandoned her. Hugs to you. Take care of yourself ❤️

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 18 min

    Dear Carol
    I am so glad that our parents had the good sense to purchase the properties on Wilson Island and that we could grow up together and have all the incredible memories of our time in Muskoka.
    Thank you so much for your comments.
    xoxox

Rose Hawkins Foster · 30 January 2022 at 18 h 01 min

My condolences Gaye. Our mother’s love is always so special. Yes, is in her happy place now and you were truly a wonderful daughter to her.

    Barb Douglas · 1 February 2022 at 20 h 17 min

    Your words truly capture so many aspects of saying goodbye to a loved one Gaye. I had the privilege of spending many occasions with Dottie. She was a gem !!! Thanks for sharing such authentic feelings …. Like Carolyn I miss my mom every day too. Bet they are all up there creating quite the raucous 🌈

    Gaye · 4 February 2022 at 21 h 21 min

    Thank you very much Rose. You will be happy to know that book is done! I will let you know when it is printed.

    Gaye Gould · 5 February 2022 at 21 h 18 min

    Thank you very much Rose. You will be happy to know, I think, that the book is finally finished!

kim Neuendorff · 30 January 2022 at 18 h 21 min

It’s always a wonder how we need to be reminded to just BE and that life is so precious and fragile. How can we ever be truly ready to say goodbye to someone we love so much especially our Mothers who in most cases have been such on constant in our life. Sending you a big Hug Gaye and hope that those dancing rays of sunshine will always bring you peace knowing that your Mom is right there with you. My sincere condolences. Kim xo

    Sharon Williams · 31 January 2022 at 21 h 27 min

    Sending you my sincere condolences on your loss of your mother. It sounds as if you had a wonderful relationship with her.
    While I was not as fortunate with mine, I had a great one with my father. When his health was waning, I collected up photographs taken at various stages of his life and wrote pages reminding him of how much we had enjoyed doing together, putting each large type page in a clear page sleeve and brought him flowers often. My mother said he liked his Memory Book a lot and liked to go through it often. The book came back to me after he passed away.
    It feels good when we can remember the good times.

      Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 35 min

      Dear Sharon
      Dear Sharon:
      What a beautiful way to connect with your father with a memory book. I just love that.
      I never thought to do that but my mom took millions of photographs in her lifetime and loved to put them in photo albums. We would pour over the photo albums and of course with dementia each time she saw the album it would be like the first time and she would be so happy to see her old friends again and her family.

Cliff Whitfield · 30 January 2022 at 19 h 09 min

I am very sorry to hear of your mother’s death, Gaye, and I know from the loss of two of my siblings this past year that their passing leaves a big hole that can never be filled.

The latest Compassionate Junkie describes your relationship and feelings for your mother in a most meaning and lyrical fashion. It touches the soul!

Yes, I remember well the view from the master bedroom out over the lower lawn, past the boathouse and onto the lake peopled with the crisscross of many snowmobile tracks broadcasting the love of many others for the Muskoka winter.

Enjoy!

Cliff

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 37 min

    Hello Cliff

    You lived at the lakehouse for many winters, and I can well imagine that view is a familiar one for you. Looking forward to having you visit again soon!
    xoxo

Sonia Desrosiers · 30 January 2022 at 21 h 28 min

Sorry for your loss Gaye. No matter how prepared we are, it still hurts a lot to have a loved one disappear forever. I have no doubt you are deeply hurting and my thoughts are with you.

    Gaye · 7 February 2022 at 12 h 32 min

    Donia, I know what a difficult time you are going through right now with your mom. I will be forever grateful to you in your great wisdom around Mr. Bean! My heart is with you as you navigate this incredibly difficult and messy business called dying and grief. xoxoxox

Mary · 30 January 2022 at 22 h 08 min

Dear Gaye, My heart goes out to you and your family on the passing of your mother. No matter how long someone is on the decline, the end is still wrought with feelings of sorrow and great loss. Know it or not, your mother had a profound effect on my life and I thank her. Allowing days of “just being” is something that I wish I had learned to accept earlier in my life, but is something I now embrace. Hoping that remembering the wonderful relationship you had with your mother, will bring peace in the days and months ahead. She was a lucky woman to have had you in her life.

    Gaye Gould · 7 February 2022 at 12 h 35 min

    Dear Mary
    Thank you for your kind words. It has taken me a long time to embrace just being and it is never too late to find the incredible peacefulness that comes from just stopping and finding that inner peace.

Myra Vanderwoude · 30 January 2022 at 22 h 23 min

Gaye
You gathered sunbeams and poured them into a passage that captures the amazing bond between a mother and daughter. How wonderful that your mother’s choices, like building a cottage, allowed future generations to enjoy the beauty of nature; feel the warmth of sunshine; and the value of family. You took such good care of your mother and are an amazing daughter. Love Myra

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 42 min

    Dear Myra,
    Thank you for your beautiful comments. I remember when we first met you and your sisters had been providing such exquisite care for your mother enabling her to be with family and knowing family was around to the very end. It is the toughest job in the world especially when you lose them bits at a time over such a long, protracted period.
    Thankyou for reaching out. xoxoxox

Shannon · 31 January 2022 at 9 h 40 min

Beautifully written, Gran would be so proud. She was truly a remarkable woman!! We will all miss her dearly. Sending you love and strength, keep her memory alive~ xo

Andrea Stajan-Ferkul · 31 January 2022 at 12 h 08 min

We all learn from our mothers. A wise and wonderful reminder, to just be.
Dottie had her blessings around her.
Dear Gaye, it’s your time, be at peace with your whole beautiful self.
xo

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 48 min

    Thank you very much for your reply, Andrea. So kind of you. So many of us have lost our mothers in the recent past. I guess when they have been blessed with longevity and we are too we get to spend all this time in our later years. Still doesn’t make it that much easier to let go. xoxo

Ann · 31 January 2022 at 19 h 46 min

My Dearest Friend Gaye,
Your mother was a gem and she’ll be greatly missed by all that knew her. We have so many happy memories from the cottage on the island with your mom and Bumpy, always welcoming, always fun. I can’t imagine the heaps of memories you have, but this is perfect because they will sustain you and lift your spirit. There’s no one in the world like your mother and when we lose them it seems especially hard and cruel but her legacy lives on in the wonderful woman that is her daughter.
With love, friendship and my heartfelt condolences
Ann💜😪

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 51 min

    Dear Ann,
    Messages from you sustain my spirit!
    Thank you.
    Love
    Gaye

Barb Douglas · 1 February 2022 at 20 h 15 min

Your words truly capture so many aspects of saying goodbye to a loved one Gaye. I had the privilege of spending many occasions with Dottie. She was a gem !!! Thanks for sharing such authentic feelings …. Like Carolyn I miss my mom every day too. Bet they are all up there creating quite the raucous 🌈

Barb Douglas · 1 February 2022 at 20 h 24 min

A life well lived Gaye. Dottie was a character and a gem. I am so happy I had the privilege of spending time with her on many occasions. Oh the laughter we shared. Thanks for your incredible words which capture the raw most intimate moments of your moms transition journey. Like Carolyn I miss my mom every day too. I am sure our moms are up there creating a real raucous 🌈

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 54 min

    Dear Barb
    Our mom’s are definitely up there causing probably more than a raucous! I read a greeting card once that said when it was time to go she wasn’t going to go passively into that dark night but sliding in with chocolate in one hand and champagne in the other! That will be me and you and all like minded buddies!
    xo

antonette estrela · 1 February 2022 at 22 h 03 min

My sincerely condolences Gaye. Being a caregiver can be challenging but oh so rewarding. How comforting for your mom to have you to oversee her health, make decisions for her and most importantly make her feel loved. Take care of yourself .
Antonette

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 59 min

    Dear Antonette
    Thank you very much for your comments.
    Hope to see you soon.
    xo

Annette · 2 February 2022 at 10 h 43 min

Sorry for your loss Gaye. Nothing can replace a mother’s love, but I know she is watching over you from her new Happy Place! lots of hugs to you.

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 56 min

    Thank you so much Annette!
    We have so many collective memories of our mothers in Muskoka together all those years.
    I will always remember Betty who made the most exquisite cake and delicious coffee when I would go next cottage over and visit. She loved mom’s grandkids, too. As each baby was born and made the trip up north for the first time we would go over and visit your mom and dad.
    She was always so welcoming.
    See you soon when the spring arrives and you will be back.
    xo

Sandra W · 2 February 2022 at 20 h 12 min

Your mom’s passing is a celebration of a life well lived and she will be with you always Gaye. With the diamonds glint on snow to those dancing sunlight beams . . she is there reminding you to rejoice in the peace of the moment. My mother has been with me in spirit since January 1990, (usually with swooping bluebirds)
So “I do not stand at her grave and weep, she is not there” ❤ Hope you take a moment to listen to the children’s choir and find your mom’s love all around you Gaye.

https://youtu.be/tli9Wy5UhSQ

    Gaye Gould · 9 February 2022 at 9 h 58 min

    Dear Sandra,
    I hope we can see each other soon. I love “I do not stand at her grave and weep, she is not there”. I truly believe that the body is just the physical manifestation of life but that when it is gone it is gone and the incredible spirit that resides in all of us lives on in whatever dimension that is forever. I am sorry you lost your mother so young, but I am glad you can feel her spirit and feel her presence in the shape and form of bluebirds.
    Let’s get together as soon as we can.
    xo

Diane Hamilton · 18 April 2022 at 12 h 51 min

I have been travelling alot in the last couple of months and not always having internet to check in with the world. I just came across this today. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. Our family knows the sorrow of one passing with Alzheimer’s as my grandmother passed with the same terrible disease. You were there for her in so many ways. You are truly what family is all about.

    Gaye Gould · 18 April 2022 at 14 h 44 min

    Thanks Diane for your kind words.
    It is a terrible disease. Hopefully soon there will be a cure or at least more medications to slow down the cognitive decline.
    xo

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