And then get on a red-eye to Malaysia.
No one but a superhero could do that.
And yet I worry that somehow, talking about Mom on these terms might diminish her amazingness, because it might make her extraordinariness less extraordinary, as if she was gifted and we aren't, so we couldn't do what she did, and we couldn't be what she was. Speaking only for myself, I often think that's true.
But if it's true, I now realize, it's not because she was endowed with powers most of us don't have. She really was extraordinary, but it's not because of that. It's because she made so amazingly much of the same ordinariness we all share. She worked, and she worked very hard, sometimes it seemed to us maybe too hard. She liked to go for walks or sit on a deck with a drink in the sunshine. She loved a lot of people a whole lot, and she thought about them all the time. She could hardly contain her joy in h
er family, especially Ian, Peter, Gillian and I, and her grandchildren. She made new friends all the time, but was always bound closely to her oldest and best friends.
Like everyone else, sometimes she got scared, or embarrassed by her mistakes, or looked back on the past with some regret. And like all of us, maybe more than a lot of us, she worried, almost always about the people she loved. She hurt when they hurt, and she fretted ceaselessly when things went sideways for them.
Which is all to say that her life had the same crazy mix of everything that ours has in it.
What makes her extraordinary then is only partly how much she accomplished in her super-hero like packed days, with her remarkable memory and intellect. But in the end that's not really it. It's ultimately more about how many people and places she touched so deeply while living out those days.
Dr. Karen Mann's family has honoured Karen by creating "The Karen Mann Young Woman of Courage Scholarship." We feel privileged to have a scholarship prize carry her name.
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This article was originally printed in the Alumni magazine, read more alumni stories here: https://bbk12e1-cdn.myschoolcdn.com/ftpimages/459/misc/misc_193060.pdf