ABOUT OUR MUMAnna Block
It’s kind of hard to write a biography for our Mum after the spirit known as Jadwiga Anna Zakrzewska Block (fondly known as Anna) has left the body she inhabited here on earth for 65 years. There are a million, billion things we could say… We could sit here and try to tell you the things we know about our Mum Anna. We could tell you when she was born and the day she died. We could tell you lots of facts about her life, but honestly that’s not who our Mum was. And truthfully, we only know some of her story, because she was so multi-faceted as a spirit. We only ever know so much about our loved ones. We’re not inside their brains, inside their soul. We only get to see what they will show us while they are with us on Earth.
This is what Anna showed us while she was here…
Our Mum was a woman who loved nature. She loved looking under rocks to find crabs at the beach and picking up driftwood. She loved to show us how to find fools gold and to differentiate slate from mica, quartz from sandstone. Our Mum taught us to listen to the whispers in the trees and flowers and hear them saying things to us. She taught us to love animals and listen to them too. Animals can tell us things, she taught us this. She loved daisies and could make an awesome daisy chain. She was awesome at mowing a lawn, swearing as she trailed the cord behind her, tossing it out to the side on the next pass so as not to run over it. She loved to dig in the dirt and find things. She was totally never afraid of messing up her nails either… dirt, shmirt!
Our Mum was an amazing cook. Not fancy-schmancy stuff (though she could make great escargot if you think those are fancy). Nope, our Mum made the most bad-ass roast beef dinner and Yorkshire pudding on earth. Really. She also made a mean Mac n’ Cheese, Cornish pasties, awesome sausage rolls, mince pies, spaghetti sauce, grocery night subway sandwiches, and “Mamma soup” (it had like, everything in it). She only fell short when it came to pot roast. Like hilariously short, where we all sat down one night and tried to chew on leather (basically) and ended up laughing hilariously until we all cried, trying to saw through dinner. But she tried! Bless her heart. Sunday brunch was generally ‘bubble n’ squeak’… which was pretty literal… clean the fridge of leftovers from the previous week, chop it up, throw down a little oil in a hot skillet and toss it all in till browned. Serve with eggs. Yup, bubble n’ squeak, Sunday breakfast of champions and frugal Mums!
Our Mum never really grew up with a career path in mind. Being from that sort of crossover generation of ladies who went from being housewives to working wives, she had to find her way in the work world in a time where women were only just being accepted as a part of the work force. She was a smart lady who loved books, wasn’t afraid to get dirty and rolled where her path led her. She ended up being a superstar in freight forwarding falling into that industry in her 40’s. She was loved by everyone she worked with (most of the time). Yes, even tired, mouthy truckers whose shipments were held up in customs for whatever reason who really wanted to be mad at her… even they loved her. They could try to get mad, but no one fucked with “Mother Trucker” as she was lovingly called. She could rule with an iron fist, get your steel cables or whatevers delivered on time and get it done for the best price. However she never dealt in “sticks” (AKA Lumber), there was no money there! Our Mum was a Mum to lots of grown up people in the Freight Forwarding business. She was loving and tough as nails when she had to be. She got the job done, and she really loved her job.
Our Mum was a great partner to our Dad Martin. They loved to ‘discuss things loudly’ (as she would say). Many laughs, loud discussions, many lessons and 43 years of ‘awful wedded bliss’ to her friend followed their nuptials. As a couple they faced a lot of trials together and did the best they could to manage with two wonderful but challenging (that’s a nice way to put it) kids in tow. Bless them, both thier kids ended up pursuing music as a profession. Any parent would have to have a lot of patience to have one musician child, yet they got two! Through it all, they did the best they could with what they had to raise us and build a life for themselves and allow for the freedom for their kids to pursue their dreams.
Our Mum was a spiritual wanderer. We say this in the most beautiful sense there is. There was a lot of awe in her and wonder about things of the spirit. She was never much of a believer in one God, religion or entity. She just soaked up what she could of spiritual things, usually from the world around her and from the nature she so loved. Later in life she got into some Buddhist principles and developed a huge interest in the Dali Lama and Tibet. She loved to collect images of Buddha and had them near her.
Our Mum had an amazing, throaty laugh. We all loved to hear her laugh. She could also mimic just about any accent she heard and had a flare for the dramatic which clearly both of her children inherited. She could be tough as nails and ready to smack down her naughty kitties, but the next moment cuddle them and console them. Our Mum was a loyal and loving friend (a sister really) to Auntie Susan for 61 years, since they were tiny things. Auntie Sue has many stories of Mum and her growing up in the wilds of Winkleigh village! Another longtime friend was our Tante Nicole (she became Nat’s Godmum) who she met when Mum and Dad moved to Ontario after emigrating from England. Mum cared for others. Many a holiday was spent around a table of people who had no other place to go for the holiday. Pull out some more chairs, put some more plates out… there was always enough food, wine and conversation at the table for anyone who wanted to join in. There were many she took under her wing, be it our friends, people she met through work and mentored (or gave a swift, loving kick in the ass if need be), and she was there in whatever capacity she could be for her fellow human and animal.
Our Mum was a fighter of Cancer. In 2003 when she was first diagnosed with Stage 2/3 cusp Inflammatory Breast Cancer, it obviously came as a shock. It’s a shock to the hundreds of thousands of women each year who are struck by this horrible disease. Our Mum, being a practical gal, did what she could. Lumpectomy, lymph node resection, chemotherapy, radiation. She went through it all. She went through a year of treatment and then for a few years it was OK. Then 2006 rolled around and that bugger Cancer went into her bones, and then it invaded her whole body. But she fought. She fought so damned hard. It was amazing to see how hard she fought. Many of us didn’t think she could fight that hard. Fighting Cancer is exhausting. She kept battling that shit back and forth for nearly 11 years. By gosh she fought it. Chemo after chemo, treatment after treatment. We are in awe when we think of how steel her core was fighting those horrible Cancers. But she wanted to live. She wanted to see her kids get a bit more settled, see her boy get married to the most awesome girl ever and know that her daughter was safely back in Canada with her Soulmate. She lived to see these things and spend a little more time with us, still teaching us all the while. She taught us all, to the very end.
Our parents moved to Ashcroft, B.C. in 2012. It was a place that Mum, Dad and Nat had discovered some 6 years earlier, sort of by accident wandering around the Interior of B.C. on a little adventure trip. Dad fell in love with the place and Mum loved its rugged beauty. Our Mum’s last days were spent in her house looking over the garden to Elephant Mountain in the background. She was surrounded by nature’s beauty. Our Dad selflessly cared for her every day and she had some good neighbors Loretta and Andrew who helped her in many ways, spiritual and physical. She was home until the very end, calling the shots, doing things in the way she wanted. Stubborn sometimes, but that’s OK. She lived until her last day the way she wanted despite her illness and circumstances and that’s important.
Now we’re crying. We will all miss her… the spirit put on this earth known as Jadwiga Anna Zakrzewska Block. She was here, and it’s still a bit difficult to recognize that she is no longer physically ‘here’. But she would tell us to quit being all mushy and know that she is still with us. She’s in every flower, she is the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. She’s under every rock where cool stuff comes from. She is the shoreline waving ‘hello’ morning, noon and night. She is in the bird that sits on the fence and whistles a beautiful song for us to hear. She’s in every good (and tough as leather) meal we have. She’s in every hearty laugh we share together as family, as friends. She is still here because she taught us so many lessons that will never die until we do, and hopefully the lessons live on through those we touch in our lifetime.Yes, we will miss hugging her and talking to her, but she is still with us and will live on through us as long as we walk this earth.
We love you Mum!