Brenda Joy | To Mom, With Love

Brenda Joy Cannon

Ordinary is underrated.

That's what my mother said.  But for those of us who knew her, her life was anything but ordinary.  What was extraordinary about her life was her ability to find great joy out of the simplest of pleasures.

A good cup of coffee.

A quote on the fridge.

A photo of a loved one.

A walk on the beach.

She was effortlessly beautiful.  A natural beauty who shined in a simple white tee-shirt and blue jeans.  Her gentle smile put everyone at ease.  And for those who took the time to get to know her, they quickly found behind her gentle smile was a caring, thoughtful, funny, sweet women.  She was filled with goodness.

Filled to the BRIM with goodness!

I think we only hope to seek out and find our purpose in this life.  For my mom, she did just that.  She found great pride, success and joy in being a wife, mother and grandmother.  Always putting the needs of those around her before her own.  She was quiet, a listener by nature and a nurturer by instinct.  She made the days count.  The good ones...the hard ones...the fun ones...the sad ones.  She was present for all that life brought her way.  She provided a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on, a friend to laugh with.  She was our glue, our cheerleader, wife, daughter, sister, mother and grammy!

Words obviously can't do her justice for all the good and joy she spread throughout her life.

As a young girl, afternoons were shared with her sister and best friend, Beth.  The two spent many a day crafting and creating.  Scrap fabric turned into tie-dyed pieces of art, trips for ice cream (bubble gum was my mom's favorite!), and days spent talking!  Summer days on her dad's sailboat.  A love of antiquing from her mom.  Her childhood was simple and sweet.

High school brought a boy into her life.  My mom was smitten by this tall, dark haired boy who, unlike her, was loud, an extrovert.  He made her laugh.  On a date to the movies he bought her an x-large popcorn and an x-large coke, one for her, one for him.  It was love!  A simple memory, yet it was one of her favorites!  Then there was prom, and college and soon this boy asked her to marry him.  This boy was the love of her life.  He brought so much joy to my mom's life, and she to his.  For better, for worse...for richer, for sickness, in health.  They had the love story we all dream about.  He made her laugh every day of her life, and that above all else, was the greatest gift he gave her!  She loved this boy, and I'm lucky to call this boy my dad!

They traveled the globe with the military.  Her life proved to be quite adventurous, with multiple moves, many flights and trips to far away lands.  I came along in Texas, then my brother Andrew in the Philippines, Austin in Arkansas and Lucas in South Carolina.  Yet through all the changes, she somehow made sure that every place felt like home.  It was the simple things that brought her comfort through all the change...a strawberry printed dish towel, a canning jar on the counter holding coffee beans, a photo, a seashell.  She knew what mattered.

Cannon Family

She was a preschool teacher.  A community volunteer.  A giver.

God, did she give!

Her life work was giving.  Giving to her family.  To friends.  To those that needed it more than her.  She gave her time, she gave her love, she gave all of herself.

And through all her giving, never asked, "what about me?".  She was selfless.  The true, pure kind.

She was smart.  Great with words.  A beautiful writer.  A funny lady.  She embodied so much!

When tragedy struck in the form of cancer two years ago, she assured me she had no regrets.  She loved her life.  Every single bit of it!  But her favorite parts were the ordinary ones.  The ones most of us overlook.  There's beauty in simplicity and joy in the small things!  In trying to find the words to best describe her outlook on this life, I came across this email she sent me last fall.

I think it says it all...

"So, when I was diagnosed with cancer - yuck- your Dad said, "we can follow the course or we can have a knee-jerk reaction.  We can keep to what we're doing or we can turn it upside down" He said we could travel anywhere, buy anything, sell our house and other words your Dad was willing to do absolutely anything to make me happy.  Isn't this what we all dream about?  Win the lottery and have someone tell us we can have and do anything we want?  So maybe it was a surprise, even to me, when guess what I ordinary life.  I wanted days of:  sipping coffee with him on the porch swing, my daughter calling because she had not one but two flat tires and wanted to talk to me until the tow truck came, I wanted to blow bubbles with my grand babies and watch them giggle with excitement , I wanted to yell at my son that he left his dirty socks on my floor but then pick them up anyway for him like I always did.  Ordinary is underrated.  I am living my life doing what I love most - being a wife, a mom, and a new Grammy.  I am bike riding with your Dad, listening when your brother stops by to tell me about his video tournaments, clapping for my grandson learning to walk and appreciating these little moments more than ever.  Now, when I am trying to homeschool and see the frustration growing,as your 13 year old brother tries to grasp the logic of grammar, I stop and confess to him.  Never in my life have I used the word SWUM!  It sounds weird to me.  So we start making up outrageous sentences using it until we are snort laughing and then I do what is out of the ordinary for me - I say, "let's not write about how we 'have swum', let's 'go swimming instead'".  And then, we throw English out the window, throw our swimsuits on and head to the pool.  I pause to pray that in 10 years this child will remember this ordinary day - not because he learned the proper use of a verb but because he had a mom who loved spending her day with him."

So, to honor my mom, I invite you to embrace the small things, find joy in the ordinary and remember how precious this life truly is.

On Tuesday morning my mom, Brenda Joy Cannon was called home. She passed peacefully, surrounded by family. There are no words to describe the loss and not a thing in the world to replace the void and we all miss her terribly.  

I do want to share that over the past couple years we have certainly felt your thoughts and prayers. We appreciate your support. Today, we begin by rallying around Lucas. Brenda's love and mission for that boy will carry on, we'll be sure of that. 

Brenda truly had a gift and calling in her care for children, especially infants in need. In lieu of flowers or food, you can honor her mission by donating infant items, in memory of Brenda, to an organization nearby that aims to support infants in need. Or, here in the Charleston area, memorials in the form of donations or infant items can be made to the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center, (843) 553-3505

To her wishes, there will not be a public funeral. She will be cremated and memorialized by her family at a time to be determined in the places she loved the most, the beaches nearby and the house in Colorado. 

I'm sure you all want to do more to show your support, and you're of course most welcome to send condolences as you'd like (cards, letters, etc). However, to maintain a balanced environment for Lucas within the house, we ask that you seek alternatives to flowers and delivered food. Feel free to send me an email or give me a call if you have any questions.