The Thing About My Family

I’m spending today moving at light speed, getting ready, together with the rest of my family to host an "unemployment party" for my Mum tomorrow.
(We have been summarily banned from calling it a "retirement party", which makes total sense if you know her.)

Among my tasks for tomorrow is to write a speech about her, and I just want to say publicly that I frankly cannot believe that I have been blessed with the incredible good fortune of the difficulty of it.  My problem is not that I can’t think of what to say, it’s that I can’t think of what NOT to say. She’s amazing. 

You know what else is amazing? Our family.   See this picture?

It’s my sister Erin, my daughters Amanda and Megan and our dearest friend Ken.  They are (drumroll please) your "Team Knit"(they all know how to knit, the whole lot of them)  for this year’s Friends for Life Bike Rally.  Ken and Megan have done it before (and you’ve all really generously supported them) and this year, our family’s dedication to the People With AIDS Foundation is doubled. 

On the 24th of July (when sadly, I’ll be doing that little Sock Summit thing. I’ll have no excuse next summer) these four people that I love will get on their bikes, and begin a six day epic ride to Montreal from Toronto.  It’s not easy.  Megan and Ken will ride a tandem again, and my sister (who is, as she works the training program, beginning to wonder if she’s a little old for this) and Amanda will ride solo.

As we get ready for the party for my Mum tomorrow, and ponder all that she’s made and done in her life, it occurred to us that this is something that she should be particularly proud of.  That her work ethic, dedication, commitment and miraculous spirit has generated this legacy – daughters, grand-daughters and friends who all care deeply about the fairness and kindness of the world around them. I promise that it was her who taught it to them – and if there is any goodness in me, that’s where it comes from too.

We’ll be passing the hat tomorrow for our riders, in honour of my mum, who really wouldn’t want any other present as she ends one half century of employment.   If any of you are so moved to pledge to them, the donation pages for our family’s riders are here.


A thousand thanks in advance, and know that we’ll be dancing up a grateful  storm tomorrow night.

53 thoughts on “The Thing About My Family

  1. I love Erin’s photo. So dramatic. Congrats to your mom on her wonderful legacy. Congrats to Team Knit for going above and beyond to make a difference.

  2. I love that your family have such a strong resemblance to each other. Adds to the feeling that you and yours are very close together. ‘s nice to see.

  3. Together we can overcome. In honor of you’re family’s awesomeness, their cause and your mother’s joblessness, I’ve made a $25 donation to each of the riders.~ksp

  4. Going to donate. I miss my Mom, gone 11 years now, so much. She would have been 70 this year. What a wonderful family to have Stephanie, and I think your daughters got it from you too (as well as your Mum).

  5. Oh my goodness, I put together a party for my mom’s retirement tomorrow too! So while I am celebrating my mom’s retirement, I’ll be thinking of your mom too and sending her lots of well-wishes.
    I picked up “Free Range Knitter” at the library today at lunchtime. Looking forward to it!

  6. My mother “retired” 27 years ago. Now at 93 she happily works full time 40 hours a week at the Dallas Museum of Art as a telephone receptionist. I wish your Mum a long and happy “unemployment” as well.

  7. Congratulations to your mom. You’ll find the words to say! I’m trying to remember what she’s retiring from, but my mind isn’t cooperating! Of course, you never retire from being a mom!

  8. I’m so confused — your sister has down “my nieces and their dad Ken.” Huh? Is my reading comprehension all these years bad?

  9. Congrats to your Mom on her wonderful influence on the world. We wouldn’t be the same without her. Donation to Team Knit coming following my post. Please tell them Thank You for their effort. It is truly appreciated.

  10. The link to the charity doesn’t take US addresses. So on behalf of your daughters and their team, I’ll send a donation to AIDS Project LA, our local charity for AIDS patients. DH and I walked in the fundraiser 10Ks back in the 90s.

  11. I’m so delighted to see the team putting their time and energy into a great cause. Happy to donate!

  12. It is so great that you have a mom to honor – it is obvious that she has been a true mentor and positive spirit in your life and the lives of your family. Many congratulations to her. And to Team Knit – Ride On!!!!

  13. You have such a great family (and friend) to be proud of. The best of luck to them!
    I think an unemployment party sounds most accurate. Congrats to your mom!

  14. I am sure your mother’s change to ‘unemployment’ will expand to full time employment, but without the usual capital inflow.
    Life changes, but our communities still want us.
    She just needs to be committed about what her objectives are (and I don’t think she will have any problems with that one from my’internet-knowledge’ of her daughter, and what you have said about her character).

  15. Hooray! I loved when they did this last year and now it’ll be double the fun.
    Happy unemployment day to your mum. All of you are blessed.

  16. Congrats to your mom! Today is my husbands last day of work also. He has been looking forward to this for years. Hope they both have fun unemployed (working harder) for many years to come.

  17. “As we get ready for the party for my Mum tomorrow, and ponder all that she’s made and done in her life, it occurred to us that this is something that she should be particularly proud of. That her work ethic, dedication, commitment and miraculous spirit has generated this legacy – daughters, grand-daughters and friends who all care deeply about the fairness and kindness of the world around them. I promise that it was her who taught it to them – and if there is any goodness in me, that’s where it comes from too.”
    Sounds like the germ of a pretty good speech to me.

  18. Let your sister know that I’ve done a seven day ride here in Iowa called RAGBRAI that averages 700+ km at about the same time as this ride. I suspect it’s hotter, hillier, and just as much fun and totally doable by the over 50 crowd. Not that your sister is over 50 but I have done it over that age and know that there are riders over 70 who regularly ride the route which changes every year. Maybe I can come up and join you all next year. I even have a tandem I could bring if you have some one to be captain. I usually ride the stoker position. Man there are things I hate about being short.

  19. Happy, happy … as you celebrate your Mom’s unemployment you might remind her that a lot of us haven’t looked back … we are busy knitting and spinning and helping our neighbors whenever we can … there is a full, rich, wonderful life after retirement ! I was at SS09 because I could … and wish joy for SS11 which I can’t attend.

  20. P.S. Congratulations to your mom on her “retirement”. I’m sure she has lots of plans for her future.

  21. What a blessing to have a mother like that – too many nice things to say for one speech! 🙂

  22. Sitting in an airplane, waiting for another plane to move from the gate we need to ‘dock’ at, knitting up a storm. And crying my eyes out over the sweet, beautiful tribute to your amazing family. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  23. Congratulations to your mom on her temporary unemployment.
    If she’s anything like her daughters and granddaughers, she’ll have found new employment (maybe even a new career) within six months. Either that or she’ll be backpacking across the Alps or Andes. . .;-)!
    I’m sure the party will be fabulous. Again, if she’s anything like her descendants, she’ll be doing the waltz and the Watusi, the polka and the pogo, the hokey pokey to stuff that would give whiplash to the kids on “Glee”!

  24. When my Dad retired from working at the same company for 35 years, a handful of sick days and late only once, instead of choosing an employer gift from the catologue he asked instead for a donation to Princess Margaret Hospital which is where I have been treated for the last 9 years. He, like your mom, would have it no other way. What an honour.

  25. congratulations to your mum and a happy ride to the four “youngsters” as I am sure your sister still is. Sympathy for you for the speechmaking. I had to do something like that for the 105th birthday of my mother at third of june this year. Only: in writing! her lifestory for the maire of her community to be prepared for visiting her and the text would be forwarded to two local papers. They printed out the whole story (almost, it was a bit too long) so I had to be quite actual and not too disclosing familysecrets at the same time. Luckily, good reviews from family and friends. So, go ahead, let your heart speak. My closing sentence was: she will be admired for reaching 105 years, but we think she is the best mum of our whole world, because we love her. I am sure it is the same with you and your family and your mum.

  26. Our church denomination does something similar, called “Sea to Sea,” I believe. They bike across Canada to raise funds for missions.
    Congrats to your mum and I hope she has tons of fun in her “unemployment!”

  27. I’m always really impressed by this post. It’s remarkable what a few dedicated people and a great network of friends/admirers can do for a good cause. My only question is…What happened to Pato?

  28. It sounds realy cool! Tell them to have fun! And you have fun at your Sock Summet

  29. Congratulations to your mother on her unemployment. Kudos to her for raising such a lovely and thoughtful family, what a wonderful genetic trait to pass on! Speaking of genetics, I never thought you and Erin looked all that much alike until I saw her smile with the sunglasses on her face. Wow, genetics is cool.

  30. Hi Stephanie! this has nothing to do with your post but I am looking for a glove pattern. My best friend is turning 16 in Dec. and I haven’t knitted anything for him yet and I thought it might be a nice Sweet Sixteen present. Unfortunatley I haven’t found one yet, online or otherwise. I was hoping to find a plain pattern. I haven’t knitted gloves before, but I don’t care if it’s complicated. I like a challange. any suggestions?
    (I will gladly take any suggestions from fellow commentors. just comment!)

  31. Steph, do tell your mom that my ‘unemployment’ for the last three years has been spectacular time for me. I hope hers is, too.

  32. What a wonderful team… Thanks to you for helping so many!
    Congratulations to your mom for this chance to “change needles” and work on a different project now.
    I had the awesome chance to take my daughter (age 25) into our local yarn shop and help her pick out yarn to start making wee things for several friends who are expecting new babies. Though she has made small projects before, I feel like this time, the baton is being truly passed on. Her yarn bag is one that my bf’s mom gave me back in the 60’s… all back in style with it’s brown background and splashy flowers… and mended plastic handles. Happy sigh….

  33. Oh Yarn Harlot, you make my eyes sting with tears as my heart swells with warmth. This was a touching tribute to your mother … I can only imagine what the full blown speech will be like.
    Congratulations to her for raising such a wonderful family and for being a working lady as well.
    Hip, hip, hooray!
    J. L. Fleckenstein (aka “firefly)

  34. Your entire family (including honorary “dad” Ken) is a treasure and inspiration!
    Next thing you know, your mum will be using her free time conditioning to join the team.

  35. Hi – I wanted to pledge to Erin, but I couldn’t… the links all go to a generic page and while I know your daughters’ last name (probably), I don’t know Erin’s. There is an Erin Dowse and an Erin Palmer.
    I would pledge for your awesome daughters, but feel I should support the newbie who is a kindred spirit in age and disposition. 🙂

  36. Unemployment party does sound tons better than retirement party. It reminds me of the former owners of our house. They were downsizing and moving to wrinkle city. So much better than retirement home or assisted living facility.

  37. What a wonderful family, and congratulations to your mum! Wishing the riders the best of luck on their 6 day trip. They will be with me in my thoughts.

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