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My mother and I confessed our shameful secret to each other on New Year’s day. Irene told me she had stopped practicing the piano and I said I couldn’t remember when I last picked up my guitar. We commiserated on our failure to be our best selves, and then agreed that we’d help each other by promising to report via email every day that we had done at least a little practicing, even just 10 minutes.

And this is what I adore about my mother. That at 96, and wheelchair-aided and living in a nursing home in southern Alberta, she’s still got game. I took this picture of her when I visited in November 2020 — height of covid, no vaccines available. I had to quarantine in Canada for two weeks before I could see her and let me just say that she was worth it. We had so much fun. On the last day of my visit it had been snowing, and when I arrived at the nursing home for a last goodbye Irene was busy putting on coat and hat and gloves.

“What are you doing?” I asked

“I’m going outside. It’s snowing!” she said with that gleam in her eye that always brightens a room. I would say she wears her soul on her sleeve, not just her heart.

So. We didn’t say anything about resolutions for the new year. We just agreed we’d be a practicing support system for each other. We are a week in, and we are good.