Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 21, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with 5 comments

The one and only “Mother T.”


A postscript to our mother’s passing.

First of all, on behalf of the MacDonald family let me say thank you for the outpouring of messages of support for our family on the death of our mother. It is not possible to respond to everyone who sent condolences as they numbered in the hundreds. For those who may have missed it, her wake will be held on June 20th and the funeral on June 21st.

While each and every message was read with gratitude, the comments from her grandchildren resonated the most with me. They reminded me about the things in life that really matter, like gestures of kindness and support when things aren’t going quite right. They spoke eloquently of her zest for life and her no nonsense attitude. Most of them have inherited that attitude! They also adopted her compassionate nature for those marginalized and disenfranchised. Most of them have been blessed with her keen sense of humour. From reading their accounts, one realizes that seemingly insignificant gestures are often remembered for decades by young, developing brains.

As I said in my tribute piece last Friday, she was not only a perfect role model for her own children but also for her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I know when I was in business, I always used mom as my yardstick and moral compass. Occasionally, when I would be in some kind of dilemma, I would say to myself, “what would mom do?” And now, not four days since her death, I find myself asking the same question and I reckon that this will be the case until I draw my last breath.

I also want to say a special thank you to my brothers and sisters. Families are complicated. That may be the understatement of the year. I can see you nodding your heads collectively. To be certain, our family, no family really, gets it right 100% of the time. Last week was very difficult watching mom complete her earthly journey. I was impressed that all my siblings were supportive and caring. Nerves can get frayed in these situations. I believe that mom would have been so pleased and proud that we sang, ate, laughed, and prayed together. We were afraid to act otherwise! While she is no longer with us, she’s still the boss.

Here’s my last word on life and death. I don’t know to whom this quote is attributed but it speaks volumes about mom and people like her. “I am not afraid to die. I am afraid of not living.” Don’t be afraid to live. Put the pedal to the metal. Mom did when she go carted at age 90!

YUMM. You won’t have the foggiest idea what I’m going to talk about so go and check out my most recent Thursday Tidbits. Some of you took a stab at the acronym but no one got it right. Your Unique Musical Memory (YUMM) is a new musical video service that Peter and I plan to launch in the fall.

More on this in future posts.

Hope you’re having a restful holiday weekend.

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A Perfect Role Model

Posted on May 17, 2018 under Storytelling with 36 comments

Teresa P.D. MacDonald 1925-2018


Mom was really a remarkable woman.

She was like so many of her peers who raised large families with none of the modern conveniences, available today. How they managed to do this is jaw dropping. There was always a baby in cloth diapers. Bread was rising on the radiators before anyone was awake and the first of several loads of laundry was well in hand. Getting kids out of bed and off to school was done with regimental precision, particularly the bathroom. Each child was given exactly seven minutes to do whatever was necessary.

With all of the children out of the house and fathers off to work, which was the norm in those days, the baking started in earnest. The bread was put in the oven followed by pies, cookies and cakes. How disheartening it must have been when the hordes arrived home to devour a morning’s work in seconds. This was repeated daily. The wash was done by hand. I can still see the wringer washer in the middle of the living room floor. When the laundry was done, invariably one of the smaller kids was deposited in the washer and wheeled around the room. Cheap entertainment.

They worked from dawn to dusk 365 days a year, 366 in leap years. They said the rosary, went to church, bought groceries, read books, applied bandages, and looked after us when we were sick. Super women. We will never see another generation like them again. These were legendary women.

Mom was all of this and more. After our dad died at a young age in 1977, she took her considerable organizational talents as the chief lieutenant of 39 Hillcrest Street and entered the workforce. She managed several businesses and eventually took the reins of the Antigonish Town and County Home Care, assisting area seniors in a myriad of ways. No request went unfilled and it was not uncommon for her to get a call late at night from someone in need. She’d drop everything she was doing to make sure that they received the help they needed.

She also expended some of her incredible energy volunteering. She had a soft spot for the poor and in her later years, helped out on a regular basis with the Food Bank and St.Vincent de Paul. She took her volunteering role very seriously and made sure that all of us adopted her ethos.

She taught us so much, not by words but by her actions. She never took shortcuts or the easy route. “Finish what you start,” was one of her mantras. She also taught us about the importance of punctuality. “Show up on time. It is a sign of respect.” I know when one of my brothers and sisters says to meet them at a particular time of day, you know they’ll be there.

“Say please and thank you.”

Her energy and passion for life was breathtaking. She loved new challenges and was never afraid to tackle anything. Perhaps her only regret is that she didn’t get to go zip lining or parachuting. She did, however, jump in a go kart at age 90.

She loved music. It was the first thing she likely heard when she was born and it was the last thing she heard before taking her leave late this afternoon. We gathered around her bed and sang a few of her favourites in four part harmony. Even with failing health, she could go to the piano and play all those wonderful war era songs from memory. We see the musical talents of Teresa and P.D. in our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. That is, in itself, a treasured legacy.

But most of all, she loved her children. Make no mistake, we were a handful and I’m sure there were many days that she would have traded us for a sack of potatoes.

We will miss her common sense, her steady hand, her great sense of humour and her compassion for the underdog.

Mother T, we love you and will miss you terribly. Thank you for being you. You were a force of nature.

We couldn’t have had a better role model.

“Farewell to thee but not farewell,

To all my fondest thoughts of thee,

Within my heart they still shall dwell,

And they shall cheer and comfort me.”

Anne Bronte

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on May 17, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

Len and Pete



What do you buy for the person who has everything, or in my case, for the person who has nothing and wants nothing?

I jokingly say I have nothing, but in truth, I have everything, especially my health. I just don’t own a whole lot of personal possessions and plan to keep it that way. As a wise person once said, “To have more, want less.”

We literally and figuratively cleaned house when we moved into our two bedroom apartment three years ago. We got rid of 90% of our worldly possessions. Of the few things remaining that we kept was the toolbox. It was a mystery why we bought one in the first place when we became homeowners.  Neither one of us are particularly handy wielding a hammer. It is an even greater mystery why we kept it as apartment dwellers. Seriously, I don’t think any of the cable outlets wants us to replace Mike Holmes.

So are you looking for a unique gift? It could be to commemorate a birth or a death. It might be for a wedding (or a divorce)! I can already hear Loretta Lynn crooning D.I.V.O.R.C.E! It might be for a job promotion or an impending retirement. “Take This Job and Shove It” might be appropriate. Graduation, birthdays, special birthdays (“When I’m 64 ‘). Christmas. Easter. Thanksgiving. You get my drift. It could be for just about any occasion or life event.

I still remember getting some rather dirty looks from my wife early in our marriage for the wooden spoons and measuring cups I bought one Christmas.

Would you like to create some lasting memories?

YUMM is the answer to your prayers. Pete and I are thinking of launching a new music video service this fall. You simply send us the name of the recipient and the life event. You include in your message a song that the recipient might enjoy and we’ll create short musical video using parts of the song. (1-1:30 minutes). We’ll send you the clip from our YouTube channel and you can share it as you see fit. We’ll charge you $50. Your friends will love it.

So. What do you think? I’m looking for some feedback. I sent it to a few of my loyal readers to do a test drive and we have our first order booked.

And how, you ask, did we come up with the incredibly clever acronym? Well, that’s for you to figure out. If you can tell me what YUMM stands for, I’ll give you a copy of my three books. If you already have them, you can wait and I’ll give you one of the first copies of my India book due out late in the fall.

Have a great holiday weekend and stay safe.


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