I tried to think of a word, just one word to describe you, but how do you do that with such a big personality, a person so full of life. But one word did indeed kept bubbling up and that word is GENEROUS.
Many of you know this story because it is my favourite one to tell. A year after I separated, Sam calls me on the phone to say three things 1. that she is moving back from Winnipeg (generous)- I had missed her very much and she had left a void that no one else filled 2. That she too is separating (I was of course, devastated but like someone getting their wisdom teeth out, having the chicken pox or any hard, difficult and tedious experience, you need a buddy and Sam it was very generous *winks* for you to separate around the same time as me and 3. that she needs a house and she wants it to be close to mine. I am on the phone with her as she tells me this, I look out my back window and there it is, a house I have never noticed, with a For Sale sign. Easily the most serendipitous thing that happened to me. That week anyway.
She bought this house sight unseen and she and her girls lived there, only 46 sidewalk squares from me and my girls, in what anyone would call a Christmas miracle for 6 people going through a hard but beautiful time of their lives. It was like the grown up version of the tin cans and the rope between two houses. I could literally see her pull into her driveway and scream out the window- come over, its wine o’clock. We had been friends since our babies were little, our intact families of four were close but nothing compared to how close we would become when we were on our own. We shared everything; meals, clothes, carpool, secrets, hopes, dating stories, cough medicine, textbooks, fears, spices, business ideas and excitement. Sam, I still count those years as some of the very finest of my life and in large part because of you. If I had not been me, I would have been jealous of me. Because of who you are, I was able to be bigger than myself ( and I don’t mean just because you are a fabulous cook). You filled in for me, pulled me up, made life more fun, and everything more possible for me. If a mom’s fantasy is to be two places at once with eyes in the back of your head, a single mom wants/ needs this 100 fold. I could be two places at once, on a date and home watching a movie with my kids, grocery shopping at Costco and working in the studio, away on a trip and picking my kids up from school and making them dinner. You made me look like a super hero.
My children could not be here tonight, one in rehearsals and the other in a show, but here is what they want you to know-
From Charlotte-Sam is like a second mom to me. There were always two options of coming home after school: Sam’s house or our own. Our Joro dinners brought us together every week, sometimes a few times a week. Sam’s delicious curry with dumplings and hospitality always made us feel like it was our second home. Her blind trust in my mom’s tour of her future home, and their trust in each other to look after each others’ kids every once in a while helped me realize how important and special girlfriends are always. I’ll always take that with me. I’m so lucky to have Sam in my life!! ❤️
From Sammy- Sam is easily the most generous person I have ever met. She is unfailingly selfless and brings so much joy and warmth to the lives of the people she loves. Throughout my childhood and into my adulthood, Sam has been like a second mom to me, and has made her home a safe and happy second home for Char and me. She has been there for me to celebrate all my successes and also to give me one of her big hugs that never fail to make a bad day good. Sam, thank you for the yummy food, the laughs and the adventures. I feel so blessed to have you in my life and can’t wait for all the years ahead. Love you.
I renovated to make room for more in my life and Sam moved to do the same, this time 275 sidewalk squares from our place. Our businesses both grew, our nests emptied, partners came into our lives taking us from Joro to Joromama (when we took our maiden names back) to Joromamafinmah (this clearly needs work as it does not roll off the tongue).
Sam is generous in ways that knows no bounds. The way she shares sets an example for all of us. Whether it is feeding the hungry in the Caribbean or feeding the ‘hungry’ in North Toronto. She was the first person officially I ever knew who said ‘ I am on my way to Loblaws, do you need anything? and actually meant it. She pleaded often, “Can I make you dinner?” or ” I have leftovers” and frequently “Come to my house, we are bbqing”. She would show up on my doorstep with two lattes in the early morning, for no good reason. She took me grocery shopping every week for 6 weeks after a surgery where I was not allowed to push or lift. She came to my cottage during art camp as my extra eyes.
Who does this? Sam.
What is this? Generous.
Sam you are beautiful, you are loving, you are fun, but more than anything you are generous. Happy Birthday- life is so good with you in it!
(I was thrilled to be able to make this speech/toast last night at your fabulous surprise birthday party on the occasion of your 50th birthday! )