Today is Mother’s Day for me, my mum’s birthday. Though Mary passed away on May 27, 2001, following a painful battle with cancer, I still take time every Dec. 12 to honor her. I miss my mother, but today, as I do on every birthday of hers, I smile at the many wonderful memories, and thank her for all she gave to me.

my mum's birthday with me

That is my beautiful mum, with, yes, a chubby me in 1960.

I remember — and only because she told me – of walking to preschool on a day that my mum knew was cold, but certainly seemed manageable. I waddled to school only to find out classes were cancelled … because of the bad weather. The manageable cold hovered somewhere between -70 and -80 degrees Fahrenheit accounting for wind chill. Fortunately, there were some other parents who didn’t listen to local weather reports and also bundled their children off to school, so I stayed warm and safe until my mum arrived to pick me up at the appointed time, still blissfully unaware the weather was deemed by authorities to be unsafe. My mum grew up during WWII in Britain, which certainly gave her a tough spirit — one that never let a spot of weather deter from what needed to get done … like going to school. I inherited that sense of not letting things stand in my way and a strong dose of mental and physical toughness from my mum, and I rely on it to this day.

mum's birthday 1956

I also learned not to let my fears hold me back, or allow them to influence my own daughter as I raised her. My mum was deathly afraid of flying, a fear that was made worse when a propeller flew off the plane as we were taking off for one of our annual summer pilgrimages to Great Britain from my birthplace of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (where we lived ’til I was six). But she never let me know about her fear until I was in my teens. She told me the reason she’d hidden her fear was that she didn’t want me to be afraid of flying simply because she was.

mum's birthday heading to Banff

Car packed and off we go to spend a summer in Banff where my Dad taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts and my mum and I spent countless days hiking and wandering together.

Seemed funny to me that my mum could be afraid of anything – a fright list that included spiders and rodents – because my mum was an adventurer at heart. She used to regale me with stories of her childhood, of pouring over maps and getting lost in travel books, dreaming of adventure in jungles and mountains across the globe.  She was always one to encourage my dreams and desire to wander.

my mum's birthday visiting with my wife

My wife, Therese Iknoian, with my mum and dad.