Obituary of Sharon Wiley
Sharon Mae Wiley-From Your Daughter
How would I be able to astutely articulate the impact of my mother’s life, while capturing the essence of her vibrant character, deciding on the most important moments that mattered in our time together? Impossible- and for this reason this has been my most difficult assignment as my mother was and will continue to be the single most important and influential person in my life. Those who knew her will understand why and I would venture to say would attest to the lasting impression that she left on their lives as well.
In writing this, I was brought back to February 14th of this year as I wrote my mother a Valentine card, sitting at the kitchen table, tears streaming down my face. It was becoming clear that my mother was weakening, and her unrelenting, heroic year-long battle was taking its toll. And so, it had become increasing important to me, for her to know just how loved and admired she was. Despite my best efforts, words would not suffice and lacked the lustre necessary to paint a befitting tribute. So, in that card I explained that I did not possess the talent of the masters, nor the level of skill necessary to craft a passage that would accurately illuminate what she meant to me. I told her simply, “You are the reason I am the wife, the mother, the friend, the colleague, and the human being I have become”, because you see I couldn’t have had a better role model.
When she read these words she smiled and said, “Now that’s one to keep,” with a characteristic lilt in her voice. She wasn’t overly sentimental but rather very down to earth and real, she said it like it was and I think people respected her for that. My mother would argue my writing ability though for she was so proud of both my sister and I, she would sing our praises, being our biggest fan and loudest cheerleader. Her most sacred gift was her grandson Domenic. He was the light in her eyes and the smile in her heart. She spoiled him, laughed with him but most importantly taught him what he called, in a recent writing assignment about his hero, the most important life lesson he has learned- to never give up. That lesson could not be better realized than in my mother’s life. She was a fighter right to the end. She was steadfast and determined to do whatever was necessary, staying positive, optimistic and hopeful. Was she ever afraid? Did she ever have doubts? I’m sure she did as that would only be human, but my mother did her best to shelter and protect us from her pain and suffering, trying to make each day one that she lived fully.
My mother lived a good life. She was always up for a good time, loved conversations with her friends during many a marathon phone call and enjoyed a good laugh of which you were sure to have in her presence. My mother was a loyal friend, who was always available to those in need and was always prepared with advice to share that she would relay with her own personal anecdote or experience. My mother was a traditionalist and classy lady. She enjoyed the finer things in life and that could be seen in the quality of the company she kept. Many of her relationships have transcended time and many of our guests here today have been long standing fixtures in her inner circle. I think I would be hard pressed to find many people who didn’t enjoy having a conversation with her. She had the best stories to tell, particularly those about her many misadventures, which most often involved my father. She was so charismatic and put such animation into retelling the follies the two of them shared. My mother and father, began with a blind date while she was in nursing school and who would have known that this casual pairing would lead to a lifetime of love and friendship? My father will readily tell you that they were the loves of each other’s lives. My parents were fortunate that through my father’s work, were able to travel together, discovering the beauty of many places around the world. Their favourite destination though was their cottage in Tiny Beaches. Year round it was their best escape of all. While most people envision the cottage as a tranquil sanctuary, for my mother the work-horse, the cottage kept her occupied and she was most happy when she was busy and involved in some kind of ‘project’ as she called them.
My mother’s work ethic can not be overstated particularly as seen in her over 40 year nursing career. Her colleagues will remember the way in which she meticulously and methodically completed her nursing notes while working in the Geriatric Mental Health Outreach Program. I used to tell her all the time to make generic statements and copy and paste them between patients, but she refused as she believed that every single patient she served was worthy of the commitment she put into their care. In 2016, she received The Nursing Practise Award a recognition by the Trillium Health Partners and in 2017 received a Certificate of Appreciate from the Seniors Mental Health Outreach-Outpatient Team who she displayed proudly.
During the last few months my mother spent most of her time in our family room surrounded by photos, drawing, cards, messages of hope and other artifacts that brought her inspiration. In the end she had come to recognize and reveal to us what truly mattered in life. Whether sharing a meal, sitting and talking or watching tv, she was content in being present in the moment with those she loved the most. She didn’t try to win the war alone but rather drew strength, courage and comfort from those who came to battle with her. I was awed by her incredible will to live and her profound joy in the smallest of things, those we often fail to see as we go about the business of our everyday lives. The sound of birds singing through the open window, the sight of fat fluffy snowflakes dancing in the sky, the feeling of warmth as two hands hold one another. And so in closing I ask you this- in her memory take time to celebrate the simple gifts and the special people who accompany you in this journey we call life.