Sylvia Wylie in Banff 1957

Sylvia Wylie in Banff 1957

Sylvia Wylie drove most of her kids crazy. Some of us were convinced that she was a terrible person so that later in her life we mostly abandoned her. I had many conversations with her about her loneliness. She felt cheated because she put her life into raising us and we, with the exception of Shauna and Daryl left her in solitude much of the time.

We know now that humans are hard wired for negativity. It is an evolutionary protection mechanism designed to keep us safe from danger. Negative experiences remain in our memory longer than the positive so we can keep ourselves safe but we tend to shape how we see the world based on the bad stuff. But the truth is, the negative bias can be profoundly unfair in the realm of social relationships.

In 2010 I participated in a three month Yoga development course. The main practice was hidden language Hatha Yoga, where we went into a pose with a perception or question in order to gain insight through the wisdom of the body. At the start of the third month our group visited the headstand. The teacher asked us to write down something we believe to be true. I wrote, "My childhood was awful." Then, when inverted my perceptions were turned on their head. My memory flooded with all of the wonderful things my mother (and Father) did for me. Top of the memory youtube was the fact that she had towels warming in the oven to wrap my feet in after a cold walk home from school. I was reduced to weeping uncontrollably on the hardwood floor.

If true love is about serving without receiving back Sylvia Wylie lived that. Her only fault was that she had a tough time letting go of what she wanted for our lives. For most of us that was a fate worse than death so we mostly scattered to the wind to live our lives the way we saw fit.

When I connect to the positive I see that she worked often till 4 am sewing dresses for women in the community to help make ends meet. She was a brilliant cook who could produce beautiful meals on a fierce budget. She was a task master and we all benefited because most of us know how to keep a home "Spic and Span". She was an organic gardener, a naturalist, a lifelong learner, and was there to support when we got ourselves into trouble (and most of us did). She was a rock during crisis. Sure she was a pain in the ass wanting me to be something I was not, but in the end I saw that this trait in her kept me ardently on my own path. We all need someone to challenge our ways of being to underscore that what we are doing is actually really right for us. She helped me articulate how I needed to live my life which helped me understand myself in ways I never would have otherwise.

Today I see that she was perfect and I love her more deeply each day. I feel her presence and understand that she made an indelible impact on my life. She believed in me and I always felt that. We were kindred adventurers and the sad part was that in some ways she lived through me and not so much on her own accord when it came to outdoor adventure. All of that was given up for all seven of us. Yes we kicked each other in the ass from time to time, but those exchanges guided our spirits to a higher place. Today I know that the relationship my mother and I built was one of the greatest successes in my life. She was beautiful in all ways.

I love you mom and know that you are in a great place. I feel such gratitude for you and what you sacrificed for all of us.

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