The last thing I thought I would be doing at 2:00 AM the day I returned home from the trip of a lifetime is writing a blog entry. (It’s now 30 hours later and I’m done!)
We returned home late Monday afternoon, only for me to hear the news that my mother Lucy passed away on Saturday while we were in Amsterdam. The family, including Donna decided it was best for me to get the news on my return home. We realistically would have never made it home any earlier. The return flight was a mere thirty hours away. Going home earlier simply didn’t make sense.
I want to publicly thank my brother Kamal and his wife Colleen; my children Tara and Chris and their significant others; nephews Karl and Adam and their significant others as well as Myra who is my sister from another mother. Mom was Myra’s Canadian mother! They were all with mom through her last days. I know it wasn’t easy and I truly appreciate what you went through.
I find that writing and sharing images or as I call them “Captured Moments” is a cathartic exercise for me. I’m inviting you to meet Lucy through some of these pictures. I’m also inviting you to a deeper place in my heart and mind. Most, are from the safari, some were imported to complete the story.
Sami was the love of her life. His best friend was Lucy’s brother Alfred. Sami and Alfred would double date and bring their dates to Lucy’s mother’s house where Lucy made sandwiches for all of them. She must have made great sandwiches, because it lured Sami away. They were married for over 62 years.
Lucy in many ways embodied love and life. I’m borrowing terms from other languages because they somehow seem to fit in. Often times, you could hear mom and dad speaking in two or three languages in the same sentence. When pressed on that, they would simply answer “I didn’t realize I was doing that. I just used the words that made the most sense.”
IKIGAI, joie de vivre and la familia are collectively the embodiment of Lucy’s life and love.
The Japanese have “Ikigai” whose meaning translates roughly to a reason for being, encompassing joy, a sense of purpose and meaning and a feeling of well-being. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realization of hopes and expectations. That’s Lucy! “Joie de vivre” a joy of life, describe her as well. She brought joy to every life she touched.
I’m not an expert on animal families, but got a great schooling on the safari. Elephants are unique when it comes to families and stand out for their love and nurturing of the extended family. Like elephants, Lucy adored her family!
When thinking of mom the Latin term, “la familia”, which in ancient Rome was including not just the family, but community and even servants and slaves. With the exception of slaves, Lucy had an amazing network of family, friends and church community that she loved beyond words. She always wanted girls, but was blessed with two sons. Our wives became the daughters she never had. Then grandchildren started arriving on the scene. At first it was Karl, then Tara, Chris and finally Adam. She loved them all and each one felt special.
All of us got to share the love, but there was still a capacity for more, the great grandchildren came along!

That wasn’t enough she and dad accumulated “adopted daughters” they loved them as much as any parent would love a child. I won’t name any of my adopted sisters for fear of missing one or two of them and hurting feelings. They know who they are!

Dad used to say he had a very professional law practice in Egypt then again in Canada. It wasn’t until he hired mom to be his receptionist that his practice became truly a family oriented office.  Clients would have to go through the “Lucy interrogation” prior to being allowed to enter the inner sanctum where dad was the king. She would find out where they are from, what their martial status was, how many children they had.  Names as well as their ages were extracted from the unsuspecting people.  All of a sudden dad was getting invited to client weddings and christenings and their children’s weddings. I used to say mom had the second largest Christmas gift list behind Santa.
Before I shift away from the office. We all have many stories, but, one still stands out – – mom, much like dad was anything but a techie. Her new job as receptionist meant she would have to answer a phone that had many extra buttons. Getting a grasp of all the extra buttons was difficult at first. A case in point was the young lady who was calling from a payphone. She called asking for Sami, no problem, Lucy instead of putting her on hold, hung up on her. The woman called a second time and mom hung up again. Finally the woman called a third time and begged her not to hang up, she was using her last quarter! Lucy was indeed a quick learner…after this episode she knew what the hold button did.
What can I say about her deep love of the extended family both at Saint George and the Egyptian club. Can’t forget the Friday night friends, oh and the Canadian friends. There were the clients who became lifelong friends. Can’t overlook the neighbours or condo friends. Wait I almost overlooked the community she had at Holland Christian Homes or her Southbrook friends. She touched many, many lives!

It was always about you and not her!

It didn’t matter much how she was feeling, Lucy always asked about you and your family first. It was more important to her. My brother called her nightly at the appointed time 9:30. My call while not random was usually in the morning on my way to work. We had to report in on the family and our days. Her phone rotation was huge. I once calculated that in dad’s 62 years being married to her, she was on the phone for over six and one half years!

The Saint George Connection

Lucy fiercely supported St. George first and foremost because of an incident that happened to her in Egypt. As a result of the connection with St George, if dad didn’t take her to her beloved church on Sunday, she would insist on driving past another church also named St. George where she would make the sign of the cross and they can go on with the week.
The St George family also became important when she and dad were no longer able to make the trip. She would ask Lillian Scott to light a candle or two depending on who asked her to pray for them – it could be a job interview, health issues or whatever the concern was. Mom charged five dollars for that candle and ask Lillian to light it up on her behalf. Any event they had, in lieu of gifts it was a donation to St George church.
You should get Lucy better by now. Today is her funeral day. Just like when dad passed away, the pain of the loss is huge. However, I know in time, knowing the immense number of lives she touched in a positive way will help. It will be the big picture and small things that I will remember which will bring a smile to may face.
I will miss opening the door of her fridge on my way to say hi to her and stealing a piece of cheese. (By the way, when we went to pick up her pictures from her retirement home to take to the funeral home, I opened the fridge one more time and had one last slice of cheese from her fridge! It tasted so, so good!)
There is comfort in knowing that she is no longer suffering and she is reunited with and is walking beside Sami now- the place she truly belongs!

Farewell for now Lucy, wife, mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, great grandmother, adopted mother, fierce protector…it sure has been an amazing journey and you’ve touched an enormous number of people. The world is indeed left a better place because of the massive footprint you left!

Please share this in memory of Lucy

8 thoughts on ““Ikigai, joie de vivre and la familia.” Celebrating Lucy!

  1. What a lovely tribute Naguib. The pictures are exactly descriptive. My deepest condolences to your and your family. Your mum was an amazing woman and she is reflective in you who are so thoughtful and caring. God bless.

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  2. Deepest condolences to you and your whole extended family, Naguib. What a beautiful, loving tribute to your dear mother. I feel as if I know her through your writing – makes me wish I had met her. Surround yourselves with family and friends as you grieve through the funeral and hopefully the happy memories that you have had will help in the dark day ahead as you miss this wonderful woman. Much love always…..

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  3. Deepest condolences to you and your whole extended family, Naguib. What a beautiful, loving tribute to your dear mother. I feel as if I know her through your writing – makes me wish I had met her. Surround yourselves with family and friends as you grieve through the funeral and hopefully the happy memories that you have had will help in the dark day ahead as you miss this wonderful woman. Much love always…..

    Patricia McPhail lpmcphail@sympatico.ca

    >

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  4. Naguib, Donna and family.
    I was truly sorry to read about your mother(-in-law), grandmother and great-grandmother’s passing recently. It is always difficult to say a final goodbye to a parent, but it is even more painful when you come from a closely-knit family.
    Today’s blog is truly a testament of the love, nurturing, compassion your mother had for her family, friends and community. What a beautiful way to honour her with your sentiments and incredible photos of your amazing Safari trip. Your mother leaves behind a wonderful legacy for all who were part of her life.
    I hope that in the fullness of time, the sadness will be replaced by happy memories of the love you shared as a family.
    My thoughts are with all of you during this difficult period.
    With deepest sympathies,
    Wilma Piovesan

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