I’d like to take this moment as we start 2020 to share what I had written for Joanne’s service… I’m glad I took the advice given as I know I wouldn’t have gotten through speaking …

Well .. are we all ready for this!? Probably not. So here goes nothing. Or everything. Grab a drink, maybe some Kleenex, and settle in…

I know she would want me/us, her family.. to thank you all so much for coming. For all of your sending love, checking on us, paying your respects. The overflowing amount of calls, texts, emails – every single one of them has meant so much to us all.

In Typical Joanne fashion, of course she had to make the Holidays this year about her … she takes after her mom that way.

My brothers and I (with Dana and MaryAnne) have said these past weeks: losing a parent, a mom,… that we’ve been accepted into a club. It’s a club no one wants to be a part of. It’s a very privledged club. A members only club. A club that we all understand without words being said. But a club that accepts all of us, the newest members and welcomes us wholly.

Losing a Parent… losing a Mom is a loss I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s a loss unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. All of us have been through death, through grief before – but the loss of a Mom is just something so different that no one and nothing can prepare you for.

How does one describe a person that was so Influential on so many?

The simple answer is: I can’t. There aren’t enough words to describe Joanne, our mom, a wife, a friend. She was one of a kind. A kindred spirit that no one could light a flame and match her.

Compassion, loving, honor, loyalty, confidential. All words that were her mission statement.

But to us, she was a warrior, a fighter, a soul mate, a mentor, an idol, a confidant. A mom, a grandmother and a best friend.

She quickly became a second mom to many. Not only to my friends: but to friends of Adam and Kevs. As soon as we brought you into our fold, she then knew you were important to us; which meant you were important to her. She became Mom, a friend, the best hugger to all- her home became a safe place to any one of our friends that needed it, much to the dismay of my Dad.

My Parents …. Together, they were something special. 40 years… An Accomplishment only we can aspire to. Looking at them, anyone could see the love that poured out of them for each other. There are just too many memories to start listing them but the main one that sticks out is that she was his rock, and he was hers. They each leaned on each other, supported each other and respected each other. A true Partnership, in every meaning of the word.

Fun fact of the day… my mom and I didn’t get along. For a very long time. We just didn’t see eye to eye (or I just knew more in my teenage years than she could possibly know as a middle aged accomplished woman) .. And then her grandson was born- and a light switched in us both. Likely more me than her ..

And we slowly rekindled an already burning ember.

She helped me in ways as a new mom that I never thought she could. She would come downstairs and steal Cameron while Dana and I were still sleeping. Which led to the game many mornings of “Where is our kid!?” Only to hear to two of them laughing up a storm upstairs.

The disappearing act of Cameron continued for 3 years as he would always find a way to get to “Mama” without us knowing. “Mama” loved him more than us, that I know for sure. Her world circled and revolved around him (literally, she planned her induction of a surrogacy pregnancy so that she wouldn’t miss his birth.. being pregnant with my first child, while she was pregnant at the same time was a memory for the record books!)

Never mind when Erica came along. Then we were all chopped lived for good! Her little princess was here and Mom couldn’t get enough of her.

Together, my mom and I, we became a powerhouse. We built Little Miracles together. We expanded CSO in ways it had never been seen.

We decided together that we were going to do what we could to expand the third party reproductive system in Canada. And we did it. I was her advisor and she was mine.

Together we made decisions as to how to best move forward. Nothing was done without the others “ok”, and this carried over into so many life decisions between us two. Should I buy a new house? Should we book a trip? Should I trade in my car? All questions we ran by each other before usually even talking to our husbands haha

We became each other’s sounding board. We became each other’s confidant. We became best friends.

It’s those memories I want to expand on, to remember and to cherish.

Times even my dad didn’t know what we were talking about because we were too in line with each other. One mind, as we always said.

431’s were a frequent occurrence – between us and with Liz. The three of us became inseparable. What one of us knew, we all knew. Watching that bond between sisters suddenly include me was something I will cherish forever. We were the Three Musketeers, a bond unbreakable. A bond so strong there was never a question between us.

We solved the worlds problems every day after work. (Sorry Dana for coming home late those nights haha)

Sending “lync” messages to each other throughout our work day (thanks Bob for installing that feature on our computers) even though our offices were side by side. Spamming each other with you tube videos of the latest funniest video we found. I will always remember the laughs … the instant waiting for the other to watch what had been sent and the immediate laughter as each of us watched the other had sent…

My mom and I : We connected on a level that I hope every mother / daughter relationship does. I had heard friends speak so highly of their mothers. Theirs relationships. And that was all I ever wanted with her growing up and through my teenage years. But we had some learning to do first. Some growing pains to work through.

Then , before our eyes, we became that .. and more. I know all of you in this room saw this. Any one reading this now saw it. We know we became the “goal” of what a Mother/Daughter relationship could possibly be. The goal of what a best friend relationship could be.

I know I speak for us both when I said : We Never Saw It Coming …

Many of you even commented to us and asked how we made it work. Working together, being family. How could we possibly be so close and not kill each other (??!!)

The very simple and honest answer : Wwe trusted each other. We respected each other. We valued the others opinion. And we cherished what we had built together. Not only professionally but more important, personally.

We confided in each other about absolutely everything. No stone was left unturned and no secret wasn’t shared. She knew me inside out just as I did her. Right until her very last day with us.

It was a no holds bared relationship and I was honoured to be the keeper of her secrets. I’m proud she was the keeper of mine. Some dad, even you don’t know 😉 (p.s. yes… if you told Joanne a secret, I already know about it haha. But don’t worry, your secret is safe with me too!)

That trust came from 37 years of learning each other, a bond that is like no other. I was the first one to hear her heart beat from the inside.

On her last day with us, I was The one person she asked “Am I almost done?”

To which I said “ yea mom, you’re almost there”.

She asked “and will you stay until the very end with me?” I replied “of course mom. I’m here forever, holding your hand until you’re ready to go”. And that was how her day went .. her family surrounding her, holding her hand, talking to her and letting her know it was ok to let go.

To me, it is very full circle to be the one of the ones to have the honor to see her take her last breath. To be one of the ones to watch her heart beat it’s final beat while she said her final goodbye to us.

While we are the newest members to the club we never wanted to be a part of: I speak for us all when saying we are at peace.

Mom. You are and we’re such a badass woman. Your strong heart literally fought until the very end. We know because we watched it. Even your doctors couldn’t believe your heart kept you going as long as it did.

You and your heart are gold. Your smile lit up every room you walked into. You instantly made anyone comfortable just by looking at them and showing your compassion.

I know I speak for my brothers, my husband, my children, my aunts, my uncle, your nieces and my dad when I say “all of us will make you proud. We will go places you always wanted to. We will bring you with us in our hearts to every new place and every new experience we encounter. Our bond doesn’t end here…. it only gets stronger knowing you will always be with me, with us, guiding us and leading us down the right path.

Rest well now, mom. Your fight, your pain, your suffering is over. Breathe easy and sing like no one is watching. And most importantly, save us all a chair in your beautiful paradise you see now.

Love You More, X Infinity Plus One