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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