Daughter honours late mom by painting pictures of hundreds of restaurants they visited together
While growing-up in her parent’s restaurant, Sharon would look forward to weekdays.
“My mom worked on the weekend,” Sharon explains. “So on weekdays, once in a while, she’d be like, “Do you have anything important (at school) this afternoon?”
If Sharon said “no,” Margaret would say “yes” to skipping school and taking her daughter to another restaurant and having lunch together.
“We used to call it research,” Sharon laughs. “But after we sold our restaurant, we couldn’t really call it that anymore!”
Although Margaret started working as a unit clerk at the local hospice, she never stopped inviting her teenage daughter for lunch.
“During those really turbulent and formative years, that’s when I really got to connect with her,” Sharon says.
Sharon and her mom made countless positive memories over the years, after eating at almost 300 restaurants together.
“It was a lot of skipping school,” Sharon laughs. “But I was an honours student, so it turned out okay!”
Later, things didn’t turn out okay for Margaret’s health. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, before retuning to hospice as a patient. Sharon recalls when her mom was first admitted.
“I remember coming out of the elevator, all her old workmates clapped and cheered,” she says. “(Mom) said it felt like coming home.”
Two days later, Sharon felt like doing something she’d never done before: buying an iPad and making art.
“It was the hardest time of my life,” Sharon says. “Without (art) I think I would have gone crazy with grief.”
Sharon started painting bright pictures of all the places where she and her mom connected over the years. The detailed and whimsical images range from the restaurant she grew up in to the cafes she skipped school for to the drive-in their whole family visited as a “field trip” away from hospice.
“We ordered an entire table of food,” Sharon recalls with a smile. “By then, (mom) hadn’t had much of an appetite for food and when we got back the nurses were like, ‘She ate an oyster burger and fish and chips and ice cream?! How did you get her to eat that much?!’”
It seems Margaret’s appetite for spending time with the people she loved the most was insatiable. And now that she’s gone, Sharon’s commitment to keep painting their favourite restaurants is unstoppable.
“I wanted her to to see how all of those things mattered,” Sharon says, adding how challenging it was for her mom to create a new life in Canada after immigrating from Hong Kong.
“I wanted her to see how much I appreciated all her sacrifices.”
Now, Sharon’s personal paintings are on public display. She posted the restaurant pictures on her website and hung an exhibit of her prints at the Township coffee shop near her parents’ house.
Seeing all the images together is like a smorgasbord of possibilities to inspire other families who might feel hungry to connect.