Grace Elizabeth Wallace Young (1932-2012), my mother, has been one of the most influential people in my life. She was a feminist before there the word was coined. In fact, George and Annie Wallace, her parents, would be considered feminists. I know, I know. George Wallace was a man. My grandfather believed all children should have opportunity, what you did with it was up to you. She learned from the best.
The lessons that I learned were many but the ones below will continue to influence me for the rest of my life:
- Only answer the question asked. She always just answered your question. Her responses used to frustrate people to no end. My mother could truthfully tell you that she never told a lie. The fact that you asked the wrong question wasn’t her problem. If you needed more information, she always expected a follow-up question. It has taken people who knew her years to understand the concept.
- Never say ‘Yes’ if you think you can’t deliver. My mother never said ‘Yes’ unless she was absolutely sure that she could pull off whatever was being promised. Her standard answer was maybe. It implied that the decision would come a little later down the road. As kids, we were never disappointed and frequently surprised when things went the way we wanted.
- Please and Thank You never go out of style. My parents were sticklers for manners. I always try to remember to say please, thank you and write thank you notes. In fact, to this day, I still answer the phone at my mother’s with “Young’s residence, Sandra speaking. How may I help you?” It is truly amazing what an impact consistency makes.
- Real friends are in short supply; acquaintances are many. My mom had few real friends .She always told us that we should guard our friendships because they were precious like diamonds. She is so right. During her 79 years, she had 5 really good friends. You know the kind that I mean – they will drop everything and come when you needed them. The feeling was returned.
- Not every decision will be easy. If I had to learn this lesson, this week was the week. When someone asks you to respect their wishes, it is so hard to put your personal emotions aside and to ensure that what you do is in complete alignment. Given a choice, I would want her with us today but it was not to be.
- The Art of a Masterful Insult. My mother always said that a masterful insult was one where it took a week for the person to realize that they had in fact been insulted. She knew there where times when your brain and your mouth wouldn’t cooperate. So, say your piece but in a way where the individual wouldn’t be instantly upset. It is a little bit like one of Gibbs’ rules from NCIS. You know the one that I mean. “A slap in the face is an insult; a slap on the back of the head is a wake-up call”. It was exactly the same premise.
- Recognize extraordinary effort. As I review the events of the last six days, I am struck by the professionalism and compassion of the health care professionals. As we made the necessary changes to her care, the doctors, nurses, and support staff at the Health Science Centre in Winnipeg were spectacular. Their care and compassion made our choices easier to make. For every person that participated in her care, thank you from our family. You are individuals that have earned a special place in our family. We will never forget you.
My parents never once put any restrictions on our potential. When I got into computers, she was mystified but supportive. She wasn’t a Luddite but it was close. After all, why would anyone need anything but an IBM Selectric Typewriter? She has supported every choice that I made in my life. She didn’t necessarily agree with them but she supported them. I never heard her say ‘I told you so” but she often said ‘what were you thinking?”.
We come from strong Scottish stock. The Scots have never been short on courage, tenacity, and foresight. Grace had all those qualities.
Grace will be remembered by Sandra and her husband Terry; her granddaughter Shirley, her husband Kevin and their children Nathaniel, Ashleigh and Nicholas; her son Calum; her daughter Kim, her husband Jan , grandson Thomas and his son Jonathon.
Her sisters, Ruth (Andy), Marg, Mary, Uncle Gordon, and Uncle Joe, as well as her many nieces and nephews.
Mom, I know that you are taking the low road but we will all be together in the end. As you take the low road know that those of us on the high road will miss your greatly.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to David Hart, Ravna Concerts, Snow Lake, Manitoba . R0B 1M0.