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Locks of Love for Dulcie!
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My mother, Dulcie Keeping, was born and raised on Army Hill in Port Aux Basques. She was one of 14 siblings raised during a time when meals were cooked on an old-fashioned cast iron stove, homemade bread was baked daily, and laundry was washed on a wash board. She went to bed with warmed rocks and brought a junk of wood to school to stay warm during the school day. My mother always talked about the fun she had growing up on Army Hill in a home filled with music and laughter. She recalled how she would sneak off to school with a skirt below her knee, but by the time she got there, it would be a mini skirt. She also shared stories about playing on the breakwater, sliding on Army Hill, and hitching rides on the back bumper of a car. I often thought that she lived her childhood to the fullest.
When my mother was 16 years old, she met my father while attending the Salvation Army church in Port Aux Basques. Both were active members of the church; she played the drums and he played the cornet. They married one year later and moved to Deer Lake, where they had their first child, Gord. Years later they moved to Botwood, where I was born, followed by my brothers Kevin and Michael. While living in Botwood, my parents built a home on a parcel of land that my Grandfather owned. My fondest childhood memories in our home include the smell of homemade bread, always having a real Christmas tree, and mom preparing many meals and washing endless amounts of laundry. When my mother touched my face to kiss me, I remember her hands smelling of onions from cooking. I also recall her skin smelling of Jovan Musk oil or Chanelle Number 5.
Growing up, I remember mom being very sports minded. She loved playing broomball and softball. She always gave 100 percent, whether at work, at home or at play. No matter what she did, mom had fun; she was full of life and always laughed. While living in Botwood, she was very active in her community, volunteering and fundraising for the Botwood Boys and Girls Club and for the sports groups she was involved in. My mother knew a lot of people, and our home was always open to friends and family who gathered there for many celebrations.
In 1995, mom moved back to Port Aux Basques with my youngest brother, Michael. She worked very hard during this time, holding two jobs at Coleman’s and Pizza Delight. Mom’s work life improved in 1998 when she secured a job with Marine Atlantic. She had lots of fun working on the boat and made many very good friends who became her second family. She often talked about the good times she enjoyed being part of the social committee.
While living in Port Aux Basques, she met Joe Ford. Over time, his family became mom’s third family. They spent a lot of time together and shared many happy memories. Mom visited Joe’s family often and spoke highly of them when we chatted on the phone. Joe and his son, Charles, visited my home with mom on numerous occasions. Joe treated my son, Kevin, and my niece, Courtney, like his grandchildren. In 2005, mom moved to Nova Scotia to live with my brother, Kevin, and his girlfriend, Shannon. Mom and Joe’s relationship continued even though water separated them.
When I was 19, I moved to St. John’s to attend post-secondary training. It was not until that time that I began to truly realize how strong, both physically and emotionally, my mother was. She had seen her share of woes, but she always picked up the pieces and trudged forward with a smile; her sense of humor never wavered. To this day, when something bad happens, I think of my mother and always try to find a silver lining.
My son, Kevin, was born on my mother’s 50th birthday, and she was there for every minute of his delivery; he was her first grandchild. Although mom lived in Port Aux Basques, she took the time to visit us often, and I brought Kevin to see her. When she moved to Nova Scotia, it became an annual event for Kevin to travel with mom on the boat and spend two weeks with her in Nova Scotia. My son visited mom every summer from age 5 to 13. My niece, Courtney, also enjoyed summer vacations with mom; and both grandchildren have many great memories of the wonderful times they spent together.
My mother was many things to me: my teacher, my counsellor, my lawyer, my banker, my loans officer, my confidant, my voice of reason, my protector and my biggest supporter; but most of all, she was my best friend. I remember her combing my hair and always searching for a hair product that would get the tangles out. She would straighten my kinky hair with an iron and a brown paper bag or braid my hair in many small braids, so I could have a crinkle style for school the next day. My hair seemed so unruly when I was young, having a mind of its own. When I became pregnant with Kevin, however, my hair went from untameable to a ringlet curl. Over the past 15 years, I have had many compliments about my hair; and it seems fitting to honour mom with something she thought was beautiful, my ringlets.
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, I felt helpless. Our family, like many families who have a loved one diagnosed with cancer, started a journey that is hard to express in words. There were many highs and lows during that time. Part of what got me through was my mother’s strength and positive attitude. It amazes me when I think about how she remained so strong and good-humoured even during the last two weeks of her life. One memory that stands out was when we went to the salon for cancer patients. It was an emotional time; my mother was released from the hospital that day and given two weeks to live. We looked at the wigs, picked out due rags and had a good laugh with the colourful hairstylist. It was like my mother did not have cancer. I saw the great happiness this place brought to many women. Having a flattering wig can help a person feel attractive and give them dignity; this can lift spirits greatly when fighting cancer.
Since 2007, the Cancer Society — through a partnership with Proctor & Gamble Canada and the launch of the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign — have created, donated and distributed more than 1,900 wigs to women all across Canada. They encourage Canadians to donate their hair to create real-hair wigs for women who are undergoing cancer treatment. In honour of my mother, I am cutting off my locks of hair and donating it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign. I would also like to ask friends and family to make a donation to this cause in memory of my mother and to help those who are still fighting to beat cancer. Cancer may have taken my mother, but it did not take the memories and the sound of her laughter!
Details about the date and place where I will cut my hair will be announced at a later date. I will also upload a video the cutting of my hair!
The money we raise together will help fund the most promising research projects in the country, provide information services and support programs in the community and advocate for public policies that prevent cancer and help people living with cancer.
Please pledge me and help me reach my fundraising goal! Every pledge takes us one step further in the fight for life. Online pledging is secure and saves the Canadian Cancer Society money by reducing administrative costs.
Thank you for supporting "Locks of Love for Dulcie"!
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