Anne Marie Smith
HALIFAX – Archbishop Richard Smith remembers his mother Anne Marie as a woman of genuine warmth, "the one who was always there for us."
Whenever there were difficult moments in his life, "to talk to mom on the phone or to be with her put things right," the archbishop said.
Anne Marie Smith, a native of Sydney Mines, N.S., wife for 54 years to Donald Smith, mother of four and grandmother of five died suddenly March 17 at her home in Halifax. She was 78.
"She was a real mom," Archbishop Smith said. "She was always there for the kids. She was always there at home when we got home from school."
To be greeted by Mom with a hug at the end of the day "had a wonderful way of putting things right," he said.
She and Donald lived for one another and their children and grandchildren, and offered hospitality to all, he said.
The archbishop spoke with the WCR the afternoon of March 19, after arriving home in Halifax at 4 a.m. that day. He and his family spent the day planning the funeral and sharing stories with "a lot of reflection, a lot of tears and a lot of laughter."
Friends and neighbours dropped in to visit, phone or bring food as the Smith family grieved Anne Marie's loss.
"It's a wonderful confirmation that she was recognized by many for her goodness, that she was a kind of rock that all could turn to," the archbishop said.
As a priest and bishop, he had counselled many people over the years and shared the Gospel message of resurrection and hope, he said.
That message came home even more strongly with his own mother's death. "When it's someone so close the faith really assumes a new power."
Mom made sure her children were brought up in the Church, received the sacraments and attended Sunday Mass.
"Her idea of negotiating with her children in terms of their participation at Mass on Sunday was simply, 'You're going. End of discussion.'"
That non-nonsense approach was a sign of her appreciation of the power of the Eucharist and her belief in the real presence, the bread of life that leads to eternal life, Archbishop Smith said.
Mrs. Smith was involved in the Catholic Women's League, serving as president of her parish's council and on the provincial executive. She worked for the CNR prior to giving birth to her children and then, after raising them, returned to the workforce as a parish secretary.
"She really appreciated her role as wife and as mother as a vocation and she was committed to that," the archbishop said.
He was to celebrate his mother's funeral Mass March 21 at St. Michael's Church in Halifax. "It won't be easy," he said. "It will be difficult."
"But we're already finding how the faith sustains and encourages and enables us to face (death) with a hope that is deep and that is real."