It's been a year since Mom has passed away on September 13, 2022. It took me some getting used to not looking after her, so I struggled with what to write for quite some time. So on this 1st anniversary of her passing I tried to put into words what kind of a person our Mom was to myself and many.
To some, she was Mary, but to my brothers; Randy and Gary, as well as me, she was known as “Mom".
Mom was born in Springfield, Manitoba on January 13, 1933. She was raised on the family farm by her Polish parents, William & Victoria (Pluskis) Chanowski in Anola, Manitoba, along with her siblings; brothers, Stan Chanowski, Mike Chanowski (Jean), Frank Chanowski (Mary Jane) and Eddie Chanowski (Eileen); sisters, Emily Walowetz (Alex), Jean Masyk (Paul) and Carol Stienke (Paul).
Mom is survived by her brothers, Frank Chanowski of Winnipeg, MB and Mike Chanowski (Jean) of British Colombia. Her children, Randy Kilcollins (Jill) of Perry Sound, ON, Gary Kilcollins of Campbell River, BC and myself, Bridget Smith; her grandchildren, AmberDawn (Chris) Reid of Ottawa, ON and Shay-Lynn Smith of Burnaby, BC; her great grand-child, Harrison Todd Reid; as well as several nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her parents; her second husband, Kenneth Patrick; her first husband, Vinyl Kilcollins; her siblings, Stan, Eddie, Emily, Jean and Carol; Sisters and Brothers in law, Mary Jane Chanowski, Eileen Chanowski, Alex Walowetz, Paul Masyk, and Paul Stienke.
Mom came from a very polish family and stayed in Manitoba until her early 20's. She would tell me about going out dancing with her older sister Carol many times. She then moved to Brantford, ON, where she met my father, Vinyl Kilcollins and had my brothers Randy (Jill) Kilcollins, of Perry Sound, ON and Gary Kilcollins of Campbell River, BC.
After life changed for her and she was no longer with my father, the Kilcollins were still a big part of her and our lives. Always supporting her and keeping us all involved with their family celebrations.
On July 20, 1969, Mom married my late stepfather, Kenneth Patrick. It was from this union that the Patricks, Sagers and the Wandels became a big part of her time in Brantford.
During Mom's years in Brantford, she lived a vibrant life. I remember as a little girl she'd take me to the Civic Center to country concerts. One I recall was with Donna Fargo, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Buck Owens, Ian Tyson and she said “also the one and only Johnny Cash ". I know my love of concerts is all thanks to my Mom .
Growing up there was always a dance she was going to. Mom was extra close with her older sister, Carol, and they would send gowns in the mail to each other so they both could enjoy them.
Mom enjoyed bowling, horseshoes and even could play a good game of softball if the occasion came where we camped at the Rod & Gun Club.
Mom was a big doggy lover. We had many dogs but her favorite was my cocker spaniel, Shannon. She'd call her 'Shankeek". Shannon was mine but in reality she became hers, so when I moved away in ‘87 I didn't have the heart to take her with me.
Now let's talk about sports. Mom was a huge baseball and hockey fan. Toronto Blue Jays and the Maple Leafs were popular in our home. Mom began her love of hockey when she'd watch The Maple Leafs with my late Grampie George Patrick in Brantford. Since she was from Winnipeg, she also followed The Winnipeg Jets. So when she was living with me here in Fredericton it was interesting when they played against each other. I'd say, "So Mom, who are you rooting for?” She would grin and say "who’s ever winning” lol.
We even watched football and that was always, The Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Mom enjoyed her sports until the evening she passed. The Jays were actually playing that evening and Bo Bichette brought it home and we won. She was sleeping but I know she knew. It was comforting, as I was with her and the Jay's happened to be playing. She had all the team hats so sometimes if her team was losing I'd say " put your hat on ", it sometimes helped lol.
Now let's talk about food. Mom was known as the perogie queen on our block. She was also known for her famous apple crisp, banana bread, and homemade bread. All of it was so good. Growing up at 18 Joseph Street, my friends would always come over expecting homemade cookies in our cookie jar and I still have that jar.
As a little girl, Mom always dressed me nice and would do updos in my hair for school. Back when Brownies went door to door, we'd do the cookie selling thing.
We also belonged to The Brant Rod & Gun Club just out by Brantford ON. We camped here for around 15 years or so. Here, Mom could he seen chopping wood, playing horseshoes or tending the fire. We had some of the best meals on that homemade fireplace with the big grill. One thing that comes to mind was thinly sliced potatoes cooked in oil on that steel grill. Sometimes it would be late at night and my friends and I would request potatoes, so she'd make us a feed and never complained.
For a few years Mom worked at Spaldings with my Auntie Muriel sewing softballs. Later on she started housecleaning. Some of her clients really didn't have much for her to clean. They just wanted her there for chats and her company. Mom used to help out at my friends home a block over on 15 Phillip Street. I think her and Mrs. Wilson did more talking than anything else lol.
In August of 1988, I was blessed that she was able to attend my wedding. From that union, she became a Grammy to my girls AmberDawn and Shay-Lynn. We lived in New Brunswick and her in Winnipeg but she did her best to visit once a year. She never missed their birthdays or holidays. But the best times were when she was able to visit and that's when the real moments happened for us all. We even got her to a Lord of the Dance show, as well as two Elvis tribute artist shows. She even went up to the stage and Thane Dunn (Elvis) put a scarf around her neck.
In 1990, Mom became a widow and moved back to Winnipeg in 1992 to be closer to her siblings. Here she enjoyed doing things like bowling, legion dances, and a Daniel O'Donnell concert. She made a few special friends. One was a lady named Pearl and the other a man named Peter. She talked about these people a lot.
Mom loved dressing nice. Her wardrobe was incredibly beautiful. I kept her white cowboy boots and cowboy hat. I did ask her why she had them and only wore them once; her reply was "well it was a western dance so I had to dress for the occasion, right?"
In November 2017, I moved Mom to Fredericton so I could care for her as her health was declining. With the help of my cousin, Linda and her husband, Ted we got her apartment packed up and we flew to her to her new home with me and my late dog, Davy. Her brother, Frank and his late wife, Mary Jane helped Mom out as much as they could, as well as my cousin, Della but it was now my time and I was so grateful we talked her into this new journey.
I was able to make her days special and comfortable. A few highlights were when I arranged for her to touch the Stanley Cup when Jake Allen brought it to Fredericton. Her wonderful care worker, Wendy and I got her to Officers Square and it was the best day ever. I mean seriously she touched the STANLEY CUP!
The first Halloween with her in my home I made it special. I dressed her as a Winnipeg Jet and myself as a Toronto Maple Leaf. It was so special. Mike Eagles, the athletic director from where I work at St. Thomas University, was a former Winnipeg Jet so he lent my Mom his heritage classic signed jersey. My heart was overflowing when she had this on for the evening.
Another priceless perk of having her with me, was that she got to see my daughters as well as my son-in-law, Chris when they were able to visit. She did get to face time her great grandson, Harrison. It was so cute when she’d laugh at him in the videos, as her laugh was precious.
When Prince Harry got married in 2018, we had a royal celebration in our home. Mom was up at 5am and it was a perfect day. The best part I think was when my friends granddaughter noticed something we hadn’t, when Queen Elizabeth stepped out of her car; Ava looked at my Mom and said, "Look Grammie you’re on TV.” This was definitely a misty eyes kind of moment.
Mom enjoyed our dog, Davy and loved sharing her crusts with him. Davy and she would play ball. She'd throw it to him and he would roll it right back to her. After Sir Davy passed, we were happy to look after my friend Teah’s dog, Bailey for a few months.
The moment Bailey walked into our home, he planted himself in front of my Mom and the love story began. Bailey never left her side and slept on the floor beside her bed. He followed her everywhere and it was absolutely adorable.
Because I was able to move Mom with me, I was able to share 5 Mothers Days, and 5 birthdays. I was able to make every holiday extra special. She was able to enjoy all her favorite shows like Hee Haw, Elvis, numerous country artists on YouTube, etc. Wheel of Fortune was big with her and I, as well as the Price Is Right. We watched it faithfully. She enjoyed Vanna’s gowns and loved it when I’d get the puzzle right (Sometimes she did as well). She really enjoyed her game shows. Her favorite time, I think, was when I'd play Daniel O'Donnell. She’d tap those toes, clap those hands and sing along. I did play his videos in her final moments and I do feel Daniel sang her to heaven.
Mom went to Shannex - Neill Hall Care Home in October of 2020. Mom's care team told me how much they enjoyed my Mom. They'd check on her at night and she'd usually be smiling and start talking sports with them. She loved playing bingo and would always choose a chocolate bar if she won. She never ate them. She'd give them to me and tell me to send them to my daughters. LOL
My Mom was the type who never questioned; she just did whenever I or someone needed something.
We would like to thank Kindred Home Care and Oromocto Public Hospital Senior Floor for all they did for mom. A special thank you to Shannex Neill Hall for all their caring, heartfelt support while looking after my Mom for 3 years in room 123. Thank you to Dr. Randal, Dr. Clarkson and the Healthy Aging Clinic, who made a huge difference in Mom's care. Thank you to the many friends of mine who would help me when Mom was living in my home, it was very much appreciated. Also I would like to thank my cousins, Linda and Ted for managing to help me accomplish packing mom’s apartment in less than a week so we could move her to her new home. Any donations may be made in Mom’s memory to the Parkinson’s Society of Canada
My cousin wrote something on my wall when he learned of his Auntie’s passing.
His words describe my Mom perfectly.
"She was so genuine and had a heart of GOLD”
That was our Mom.
"I'm grateful I took so many pictures and videos.”