Mother, Joan Arlene Jilks (1925 - 2006)She was ahead of her time
While other mothers did stay-at-home
Mom went out to work the phone
Nanny took me in for lunch
A brief respite while I did munch
Cottingham School was the locale
Inner city – I am that gal
Mom was the woman who organized
Lunches for those whose enterprise
Included works for those less fortunate
To the boss she wasn't subordinate
Finally retiring in ninety-one
She didn't rest or sit at home
Fundraisers, choirs, and another hobby
Sometimes manage to play and lobby
Arranging a lakeside wedding the last
Most recent event that she did task
Eventually cancer took her self
Her skills at rest upon the shelf
It's been ten years since my mother died. As we come up to another Mother's Day, I mourn her dying. She had an amazing life. April 4th was her birthday. April 12th their wedding anniversary. She died on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend.
My mother, Joan (April 4, 1925 – 2006) worked outside the home. She went to work when she was 15 years old (1940), after her father died and they needed the income. Once I was adopted, in 1957, she stayed at home. Once I was in school, she went back to work. At first, my Nanny gave me lunch, as she lived near my school. My girlfriend's mom eventually took care of me, with her daughter Fiona, while mom was at work. Mom worked for the same company as Dad. Eventually, she went to work for the Toronto Rotary Club, located in the Royal York Hotel, where she worked until 1991, when she retired at age 66.
As I wrote in her obituary:
Joan spent the last 29 years of her working life at the Rotary Club of Toronto. As an Honorary Life Member, commemorated by a plaque dated April 26th, 1991, the club recognized the fact that she embodied the spirit and ideals of the club. She trained many club presidents and executive secretaries. She knew the name and face of every one of the 500 members. She demanded hugs and kisses every Friday on their meeting day. Joan served the members well. In the November, 2003 Rotary Voice, well after her retirement, a column by John Spragg (a past-president) said, “I will also miss Joan Jilks, honorary member and former secretary in our office. ‘Secretary’ What am I saying? – she ran the place.”
Mom worked from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and immediately upon arriving home would have a bath, then change into her jammies. On Fridays, if I was home sick, we'd watch a Friday afternoon TV movie.
I attended Cottingham Public School for Gr. 1, my Nanny lived on Cottingham Ave., you can see it in the background of Christiane Pflug's painting in the NGO. I was friends with Pflug's daughter.
Mom worked 4 days a week, as she didn't want to earn enough money to put them into a higher tax bracket. That said, they saved enough money to buy a $2000 cottage property in Muskoka, where her much better off brother and sister had already bought and built cottages. She stayed at the cottage all summer (July and August), while dad commuted to and from work in Toronto. Summers were lonely for me.
She was out in the work force from 1940 until 1991, 51 years. It was a long haul. She loved it. She was very good at her job!
From her eulogy:
Mom was stoic until the end. She handled her cancer treatments and her disease; tumours # 6 and 7 this past Spring, with all the secrecy of a UN Diplomatic negotiation. No one really had all of the information at one time. She parceled out chores to some people, many people endlessly picked things up for her, Cancer Society volunteers driving her and dad around to appointments, filling innumerable prescriptions for us. She was hopeful and optimistic to the end. Her great faith carried her through.