On May 2nd, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby girl that is 4th in line to the British Throne.

The same day, after trying to remain at home for as long as possible, my Mother entered palliative care at the hospital.

I feel I should say something profound about life, births & deaths, comings & goings – but I’ve got nothing.

My mother is a remarkable woman who lived a difficult life, but somehow managed to remain positive and almost always looks at the bright side of things.

She grew up in near New Jerusalem in south-central New Brunswick. Her father was a big fish in an admittedly very small pond. He was the only son of an only son and, as such, inherited a large and prosperous farm.

But when she was seven, the government of Canada announced they were going to expropriate her home, their farm, all of New Jerusalem and several other neighbouring communities to build the army base CFB Gagetown.

Then, in the scramble to get in the final harvest before being forced from their land, her father, older brother and several others were piled in a pickup truck that crashed and rolled. Two people were killed and my grandfather received a serious head injury. He nearly died, and it was months before he was able to work again and he never completely recovered.

My mother was eight when they were forced to leave the farm. It was less than a year since the expropriation had been announced. About 3000 people ultimately lost their homes to the base.

All that remains of the lost communities are the cemeteries and cenotaphs. The churches were left standing, but not maintained. Over the years they one-by-one collapsed and their debris was hauled away.

Twice a year the families are allowed into the base to visit grave sites and see what is left of their homes. Of my grandparents’ farm, all that remains is part of the basement. There were tread marks in the dirt; someone had driven a tank into it to hide during some exercise.

Unable to find work in New Brunswick, my grandfather decided to travel to Toronto. He made it as far as Kingston, Ontario where he met a man who would become his best friend and who got him a job driving a grocery truck. So the family settled in Kingston.

She met and married my father and had me. Her second baby, and only daughter, was born with a heart defect. She only lived three hours. Mom never got to hold her or even attend the funeral.

A few years later my father developed a stomach ulcer. He entered hospital for an operation and a week later, due to complications, bad luck and sub-par hospital care, was dead. She was alone with me, aged seven, and my brother, just a few months old.

Soon after she met and ultimately married a tall, handsome and charming man. He gave her two more sons, but that’s about all the good that came of him. His charming facade fell away literally on their wedding day and he quickly revealed himself to be mean, violent and abusive. It’s a miracle he didn’t kill her. They were together, off and on due to frequent separations, for five years, although it was eight years before the divorce was final.

She remarried again. This guy didn’t abuse her, but he did abuse my three younger brothers. She kicked him out; by the time the divorce was final they were married for eight years – coincidentally it was the third time she had a marriage last for eight years.

I’d moved out on my own by then. I went to college, feel in love and proposed to my now wife,

But the morning of my wedding, all three of my brothers were injured in a car accident. One had three broken bones. Another received a concussion and punctured lung. But my kid brother got it the worst – he clinically died twice that day and was left a paraplegic.

We went ahead with the ceremony, but mom was torn between needing to be at the wedding of her eldest or the side of her potentially dying youngest. In the end, she attended the actual wedding ceremony and made a brief appearance towards the end of the reception and spent the rest of the day at the hospital.

A few months later she remarried. My kid brother was still in the hospital so they arranged to have the wedding there so he could attend. But soon after they discovered her new husband had cancer and he died not long after.

She eventually married again. This time the marriage lasted; they’ve been married for over 20 years. While we don’t see eye-to-eye with everything, he is a good man and, most importantly, has been really good to my mother.

But they didn’t have a quiet life.

My kid brother, the paraplegic, got married and had three kids, but he and his wife became heavy marijuana users. They’re addiction got bad enough that they had to choose between the drugs and their kids. His wife chose the drugs and walked out on them. He stuck with his kids, more or less, most of the time, but ultimately lost custody of them and, after a few really bad choices, lost all contact with them.

My mom and her husband stepped up and have been raising them. A house with three high energy teenagers is far from a quiet retirement.

Then cancer hit.

She fought hard and beat it.

Then it came back. This time she wasn’t so lucky.

But somehow throughout all this, she has managed to stay positive and mostly upbeat.

She doesn’t bear a grudge or resentment towards anyone, save only her 3rd husband who abused her kids.

She still holds out the possibility that she might regain her ability to walk a bit, or at least stand, or at very least bear weight on her legs, at least for a short time. But if not, then “Oh well.”

When her doctor told her she had only days or weeks left, her response was “That’s good that I won’t be stuck in palliative care for long.”

I don’t know how she does it.

I haven’t exactly had an easy life myself. But don’t have anywhere near her degree of contentment. I rail against injustice. I am frustrated and bitter and hurt. I want to scream from the rooftops.

I want politicians to do their jobs and not just serve their own interests and those of their contributors.

I want the press to report the news fairly and inform the populace as to what is really going on, not just shovel propaganda reinforcing the status quo.

I want Christians to actually live the values they profess to believe.

I want truth to be valued.

I want to spit on Nietzsche’s grave over his “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” line.

I don’t control armies or vast fortunes. I don’t have the ear of powerful men or a position of great influence. I don’t even have the talent to run for office. I’m a soft spoken introvert who spends, perhaps, too much time thinking about what ‘could be’ instead of ‘what is’.

So I’m trying to change the world with a comic about Snow White.

It’s not much, I admit.

But stories have power. Stories change thought, and thought changes people.

And if I can change one person, I’ve change the world. And if it is the right person, the change could be significant.

Then maybe when my time comes, I can face the end with the grace and contentment that my mother shows.

↓ Transcript
You talk about "important matters", but really you were just off for more of your damned lotions!

Don't you use that tone with me!

Do you even care about anything other than your looks?

Go to your room. I don't want to see you before morning. And be grateful I'm not more harsh.