Remembering Mal

Today I am remembering more than just the fallen.

On this Remembrance Day I remember Marilynn Fox, my step-mother, who died last month and whose memorial shebeen is being held in Nauwigewauk this afternoon.

Marilynn Fox circa 1981

Marilynn drove into my life down a gravel road when I was 3 and she was 37.  We played gas station and she became a part of my life forever. Our relationship was tumultuous and challenging but there was always love. Often hidden behind some other more urgent passion or emotion, but it was there.

Marilynn was generous, loving, strong, willful, smart, creative, resourceful, inspired and protective.  She challenged people to be better than they were, she pushed boundaries and she inspired people. Marilynn was tough as nails and yet shockingly compassionate, opening her home, her arms and her life to many people who had nowhere else to turn.

She survived more than I could possibly tell you and her life could easily be the basis for more than one award-winning Canadian novel. The kind that would make you cringe to read, and leave you marveling at her tenacity, humour and strength.

Marilynn & Dad at The Market Basket, Saint John City Market cicra 1976

While she left New Brunswick about 10 years ago and was no longer an active part of my life, she was and still is a part of me. Much of who I am was honed by having Marilynn as one of my parents. And I hope through the distance, miscommunication and hurt, she knew the positive impact she had on who I am and how I see the world.

The things she created and taught me are so numerous and ingrained it’s hard to list but they include:

  • There is always room for 1 more.
  • Mistakes can be tasty like the Electric Clock Cake – made with currants and thyme.
  • Anything is possible if you are willing to try hard enough, get creative, ask for help and share. The island is a tribute to Marilynn’s resourcefulness.
  • All markets are “home” to me.
  • Duck ponds smell, goats are randy and dried rabbit turds are perfect for throwing at people.
  • Dress 2 little girls in matching gingham pinafores and you can sell organic vegetables to grannies who won’t even talk to the hippies who grew them.
  • Different is different, not less.
  • If you fill an island with people dressed in Victorian garb drinking out of tea cups, very few people will drink tea. But you’ll have an excellent time.
  • Creating businesses is fun. Hard, but fun.
  • I should not drink Irish Mist. Ever.
  • Every experience can be a story, and every story a Legend.
  • Strength comes in all sizes, shapes and forms and should always be honoured.

Marilynn & Lex

There are SO many other things, many much more amazing and far-reaching than the things that I carry around with me day-to-day.

But those are stories for another day.

Today is for remembering and being thankful that she never held me to the promise I would push her out of an airplane if she ever ended up in a wheelchair.

There will likely a be tear or two before I hear Maly say in my ear “Toughen up kid! It’s all part of life.”

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

5 thoughts on “Remembering Mal

  • November 13, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    What a great post, Lex. Really lovely. Now I want Electric Clock Cake…

  • March 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Wow.  You are a good human being Lexa.

  • March 14, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    TauraFoxWalker thanks Taura. Like most people, I’m just what I was taught to be by people who tried their best.

  • March 14, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Well.  The fact that you can see Nana as trying her best, while acknowledging that your hurt is real, is admirable.  I have worked hard to be so open, accepting and insightful in my own life.  I admire so much about you and your ‘path’.  Thank you for sharing!


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