Sunday, 16 October 2011

Remembering Mama

18 December 1934 -  16 October 1984

It's been a long time . . . 27 years.
I was 27 . . . you've been gone half my life.
Oh, how I have missed you. 
Even now the tears well up as a wave of emotion rises, threatening to pull me under.

Some days I feel your loss so acutely, long for your presence so powerfully.
Many days I needed your ear, your experience, your wisdom.

The day I watched my husband walk down the road clutching two bags of belongings.
 Away from our home, our children . . . away from me. 
My entire being ached for your arms that day.
And you knew how it felt.

The day your first grandchild stood by the sea in San Diego.
Exchanged vows of love and commitment with his dream girl. 
You would have been so proud.

Your first granddaughter,
 who loved to snuggle and ask "you wanna talk about it",
would still love to talk about anything with you. 
It makes me sad that her memories of you have faded away to faint shadows. 
 It makes her sad too.

And believe me,
you would have been the first one I called when MY first grandchild was born
. . . and the four more that came along after her.
Oh, Mama, they are so precious, so beautiful, so funny. 
You would love them so much . . . and I know they would adore you.

 Ever present in my memory,
so many little things make me think of you and smile . . .
ice cream sundaes from Dairy Queen, popcorn,
the World Series, the Carol Burnett Show,
cribbage and canasta,
hollyhocks, dahlias, tulips and cosmos
fried mushrooms, homemade chow mein
banana bread, French cake and apple crisp.

And your funny little sayings . . . fiddlesticks, horsefeathers.
"sweating like a chicken packing fence posts".

I am so thankful that you are no longer in pain,
that your body is whole and your tears have been wiped away.
But I sure do miss you.

Your love and laughter and values have shaped my life.
You trained me up in the way I should go and though I wandered for a while
I have returned to the faith that you nurtured me in from a babe.

One day, some day, we shall be together again.
I will not be leaning on a cane . . . I will run to you
and hug you long and hard.

The earliest picture I have ever seen of my mom and her sisters . . . taken in 1940.   
Left to right, Agnes Grace (5 ), Jacqueline Della (2) and Lorraine Blanche (7)

 At age 16, Mom and her friend Jill, were off to play tennis . . . love the saddle shoes!

Graduation from business school . . . Mom is 2nd from left.

 Mom was one of the thousands of subjects of renowned street photographer Foncie Pulice.  This was taken on Granville Street in Vancouver, BC when she was in her late teens.  A classic beauty!

Ray Wallace Olsen and Agnes Grace Hawkenson
united in marriage in April of 1954. 
It was his 22nd birthday and she was 19.

And then there were three . . . Kari Jane arrived in July of 1955.  Mom is 20.

My dad, Ray Olsen with big sister Kari, Mom with me, and Mom's sister, Auntie Lorraine.
 Cradled in my mama's arms,  just days old.
They are bringing me home from the hospital. Doesn't she look radiant?

 This is the only picture I have of just me and Mom. The book she is reading me is "The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes".  This is where my love of the Word began . . . sitting on my Mama's lap.

Left to right -  Me (Andrea Dawn), Mom with Mark Leroy (L) and Martha  Lorraine (R), Kari Jane and Dallas Birk.
  This photo is the favourite of all of her children.  She has just turned 25, just given birth to twins Mark and Martha. Kari, the oldest is 4 and 1/2, I am not yet 3 (almost but not yet) and Dallas is 16 months.  That means three in diapers . . .  yikes!

Mom is just turned 27 here and is one busy lady.  Five kids under six means non-stop laundry and lots of cooking.  Dessert was saved for Sunday's and one of our favourites  was Mom's French Cake.  Below I have posted a scanned image of her handwritten recipe that my sister has . . . this is seriously yummy stuff and a must-have on the Christmas goodies list.

The new grandma on her 42nd birthday.  
My son, David, was her first grandchild, followed by my daughter Shannon, my niece Katherine and nephews Eric, Jonathon and Brian.  Jon and Brian were born after she died and Katherine and Eric were under a year old at the time of her passing.  Aimee, Eric's older half-sister, called her grandma as well.  How she loved her grandchildren and how I wish they all could have known her better . . . longer.

 This portrait of Mom was painted by her friend in 1982.

This is the last picture I took of my dear Mama . . . snuggling on the couch with my daughter Shannon. Within a few weeks of this photo being taken, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a few short weeks more she was welcomed home in heaven.

Agnes Grace Olsen was laid to rest in the Burquitlam Cemetery, Coquitlam, BC, October 20, 1984

The following poem was written by her mother, my grandmother, Blanche Guldager about seven years before her death.


Agnes  . . . means purity
I did not know or think of this
When I named you
But you were pink and brown
With skin of purest ivory
And I loved you with joy and pride and wonder
As I love you still.
Your hurt is mine
Your joy is mine
You know full well as you're a mother too.
Still your soul is above and beyond
And totally unique
Your own and God's -  to rare to share
Save with the Omnipotent.


  1. Dear Andrea Dawn:

    How wonderful to have such memories! I know they are no substitute for the real person, but, oh, still priceless keepsakes till you are once more together. I will come back to this time and again because from these shared moments you became who you are and you are a treasure to me.


  2. Dearest Andrea

    What a beautiful labour of love Andrea. You have shared our mother and your self in this tribute. I am sad for our loss of mother but rejoice knowing we will see her again in our heavenly home. Till then, we remember.

    Love Kari

  3. Oh Andrea, I am crying with you today as you hold these memories so close it aches...she would be so proud of her daughter... her heart would be so at peace and serenely joyous to see your love at work... at rest...
    blessings and hugs my dear friend. You have wrapped such beauty in your words for us today, I will come back to visit often and get to know her better.

    "One day, some day, we shall be together again.
    I will not be leaning on a cane . . . I will run to you
    and hug you long and hard."
    I love this!!!!!

  4. Andrea,

    How did I not find myself here at this blog before?

    This is such a warm, loving remembrance of your mother - of whom I have just a few memories. Blessings on you as you grieve, remember and move on. How wonderful to know that you'll be together again one day.

  5. Dear Sweet Sister-in-Law,

    What a powerful tribut to your Mother and Kari's Mother.
    I feel that I got to know her through your words and through your eyes...she must be proud of you right now.

    I know your family sure is.

  6. love the photo with Shannon! Just such a perfect memory!

  7. Such a loving tribute. You are, no doubt your mother's daughter. And your grandmother's. Your poem was heartfelt and true. Happy wishes to my mother, on her birthday tomorrow, and to yours, my gracious sister, in a better place, I hope. Her beauty was profound, inside and out, and you have so aptly honoured her.

  8. all smiles Andrea Dawn – all smiles from the opening lines through all the pictures – that tennis "hottie" picture – through the mama pictures – through the grandma pictures. Our moms were close in age – which, of course, my sister, makes us fairly close in age. I bet they were both Bobby Soxers - and we'll both get to see them – both – again. God bless you Andrea Dawn. Thanks for alerting me to this. I HEARTED it!!

  9. How your tribute touches me, especially as I watch my own sweet mother heart hears your heart.

  10. Just as powerful now as it was the first time I read this four years ago. A great tribute to your mother.


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