Celebrating special occasions when a loved one is no longer living can be difficult and painful.
Since her mom, Ann Ryan, died from lung cancer in 2006, Helen Williams has had to rely on the fond memories of her mother for every one of those moments throughout the year.
Around two years ago, a thought implanted in those reflections began to sprout up. Williams began thinking of a way she could more demonstrably make the legacy of her mother live on.
Friday, in honour of the Mother’s Day weekend, that seed finally flowered. A collection of children’s books purchased by the Corner Brook Public Library out of funds donated by Williams in her mother’s memory was launched.
The $500 donated by Williams is just the first of an annual commitment she says has no end date.
Williams lives at the NATO base in Stavanger, Norway, where her husband, Lt.-Col Richard Williams of the Canadian Armed Forces is stationed.
She volunteers her time with children at the library there and, every time those kids come in for story time, Williams thinks of her own mom.
“It finally came together and I felt really good about it,” she said in a phone call from Norway on Friday, just hours before the “Ann Ryan Collection” was unveiled at the Corner Brook Public Library.
“I wanted to make a commitment to something with my mom’s name on it that would have meant a lot to her — spending time with children.”
Williams has left it up to the library as to what material will be included in the collection and what will be added to it in the future. All of the material, though, will indicate it is in Ann Ryan’s memory.
“I just wanted it to be for children who were still young enough that they still needed their mothers or fathers or loved ones to read to them,” said Williams of her only request about the material.
In fact, one of Williams’ earliest memories is of her mother reading to her.
“I just wish I could hear her voice one more time,” she said.
Ann Ryan still has plenty of family in the Corner Brook area, including her husband Mike Ryan. She will be remembered as being at her happiest, said Williams, when spending time with her family, friends and especially her grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Her daughter said there are also lots of people who will remember Mrs. Ryan from when she worked at Mike’s Chicken Villa and Leo’s Pizza in the Valley Mall.
Having a military family makes it hard for Williams to come to Corner Brook to visit her mother’s gravesite. It will be at least another year before she might get back home and get to see the new collection herself.
“That will be my first stop,” she said.