8 days.

In a Tizzy Avatar

It feels like a dramatic title, but I also can’t conjure something up that feels appropriate for a subject that is dramatic for me: My mom passed away eight days ago.

My mom was extremely generous but also a bit of a mystery, keeping the cards life dealt her close to her chest – especially with her struggles. There are a lot of questions about her that I will now have to answer without her assistance. However, I feel compelled to share a tiny bit about these first eight days, and leave space for more reflection later on. I also simply wanted to let others know, because she touched a lot of lives.

It is not lost on me that this is a time of year when my mom’s spirit often shines brightest: Giving gifts, preparing copious amounts of food, and hosting loved ones in her home. This both makes the time of year harder, because I don’t see her carrying out a concentrated number of traditional activities; but, it is also easier, because I can feel her spirit lingering with the season.

I think I’ve been a bit numb so far, avoiding major triggers while noticing the regularity with which I hear her voice or consider her opinion: “Would she like that I used this Christmas mug?” “I want to share this picture of a mundane scene on my walk today.” “Would she try some of the matcha latte from my advent calendar?” “Is it going to bother her that I’m having dinner with a friend instead of at home again?” “She won’t send me any more Starbucks gift cards on a whim.”

It is the impulse to share, or refrain from, something, followed by the empty void where her opinion should be, that is making me realize our dynamic was one characterized by a constant stream of small moments, more than large ones. I will miss this.

However, I have found some peace – or at least, some relative emotional stability – in taking my high valuation of those many small moments, and finding new channels for them. By instead sharing a photo with a friend, or going for a walk with family, or sending a Starbucks gift card to someone I’m spontaneously thinking about – I feel her. And that helps.

A quick couple of notes:

  • I would love for you to share positive memories or sentiments about my mom, but please bear your sad thoughts in private and not on this post, as I hope to curate a lighter atmosphere for myself.
  • Additionally, to quell immediate questions about what happened, I’ll simply share for now that my mom had an autoimmune condition that caused her liver to fail, and she kept this battle well-managed and very private. I hope that you take a few moments to learn about the myriad of ways our livers impact our overall health and take good care of yours and be a strong advocate for your own health. I recommend www.liver.ca as an initial resource.

6 responses

  1. Victoria Manz

    Oh my gosh, christmas time with Jo and family? I have wonderful memories of the TREES! And the talking stuffies, the Christmas dishes, and goodies all baked and out for me to graze, the magnitude of gifts wrapped and waiting for each family, as well as the dreaded and most anticipated 2lb cadbury chocolate bar😋. I decorated my home with Jo’s spirit of the holiday inside me, I will continue to do this and smile . What a great letter Katie, thanks for sharing all of these thoughts . Love always to you.


  2. Mitchel Patron

    Will never forget when you first started having some of your high school friends over and it quickly went from your tight family unit to our chaotic crew running around and Joanne just trying to keep up offering us drinks and snacks. Making us pizza with her special sauce (Ketchup ahahaha.) I’m sad to hear the news but I’m definitely reminded of all the good times. Say hello to everyone for me and don’t be a stranger!


  3. Amanda

    The many meals at Rio, the love and care she provided for Nansicle & Popsicle she made so many feel at home. I remember the many trips we took together, Miami, Maui, New York, Germany to name just a few. The time she met us in Germany with LD and they had been upgraded to first class for free to fly and meet us! It’s because they looked like movie stars! LOl. The time we flew to Toronto for Lu’s mom funeral and we got so lost, finally arrived with 10 minutes to go in the service. We laughed so hard even though it was supposed to be a somber occasion. All the hot tubs and copious wine we drank in the 80’s! She has been in my life so long and its hard to imagine she is no longer. She has raised two beautiful daughters. You have become a wonderful young woman Kate, and she is so proud of you. I will miss her so much. Xo


  4. Lindsay Martin

    I loved going over to Joanne’s home as a child. I always felt so welcomed and loved by her. I also loved the full bowl of wine gums on the counter, the yummy crispy chocolate chip cookies she would make, the grilled cheese sandwiches and the home made pizza with corn :). I remember there always being fresh flowers and new plates and cups to match the season. I can hear Joanne saying “miss Kaitlyn Tissington” and “miss Lindsay Martin” whenever we made questionable decisions (like getting into a mud fight full of goose poo). When I think about Joanne I can’t help but smile.


  5. Cyrina Cabalfin

    Mama Joanne is the ultimate snack queen. I loved how excited she would be if I showed up at her home and she had a new flavour of popcorn to share with me. And of course, if I liked the flavour (which in all cases I did), she had an extra bag ready for me to take home. From snap peas to popcorn, there was never a time that I was in her kitchen and left hungry. In fact, on most occasions I arrived back home with about a 3 weeks worth of food and snacks.

    We shared the same love for clothing, the colour pink and shopping. One of my fondest memories was when I complimented a sweater she was wearing and she looked at me with a bright smile and said, “Right? I saw an ad online and bought every colour!” I loved how excited she was when she complimented an article of clothing that I was wearing and if I told her I bought it from Winners, I knew what we would say next. “We LOVE Winners.”

    I love you Mama Jo! Thank you for sharing my love for snacks and clothing and for cheering me on with everything I do! ❤


  6. Chelsea L

    Katie – I just came across this post and I wanted to echo many of the sentiments expressed above. Like Lindsay, I have many fond memories of your mom from my childhood – the trips to 7-eleven after school on the way to your house to pick out copious amounts of candy, the immaculately organized snack drawer in the kitchen, the pizza with ketchup special (still eat it that way to this day). Most of all, I will always remember the uniquely warm and nurturing energy your mom had that always made me feel right at home whenever I was over. Sending you and the family all the love.


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