Lessons From My Mother



By Jane Blaufus


I recently had the honour of being invited to speak to master's students at Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship & Technology Centre, in Waterloo, Ontario. As I was preparing for my presentation, I started to think about why I am an entrepreneur today and ended up taking a trip down memory lane. I ended up thinking a lot about my mother.

I was raised at the knee of an entrepreneurial mother who, although only five feet tall (if you stretched her when she was wet), thought she was eight feet tall. She was an amazing woman and when I was younger, I believed she had nerves of steel. Later in my life only served to confirm that I was right. I hadn't thought about this in awhile, and it brought back lots if special memories.

My mother lost her mother at twelve-and-a-half. Shorty after, she was pulled out of school to work in the family store. One year after her mother died was introduced to her new step mother from hell. She fell in love with my dad, got married, built a house, sold it and emigrated from England to Canada with only the clothes on their backs and four suitcases. Her first job was at The Bay in accounting (which she hated) to bring in money, and ended up graduating top of her class from a Montreal-based dress making school.

I can remember going to school with sequins stuck on my you know what from all of the tutus she made for the local dance school recitals in her basement workroom. And I remember her little red car roaring up the road six days a week for the hour drive (each way) to get to her sewing business in town. She sewed at home in the evenings and on Sunday to help us keep up with expenses and make extra some money. As talent would have it, she won one of Canada's top rainwear design competitions and four of her evening gown designs were featured in an international Wonder Bra advertising campaign.

Through all that success she also had five failed business ventures.

She went back to work after my father's new job took us to a new city, leaving behind her sewing business. When my sister and I grew up, she made our wedding and bridal party gowns.
I vividly remember when my father called to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer (what her mother had died from). We went to another doctor for a second opinion only to have him confirm the first.
I fondly remember her opening her sixth and most successful venture three weeks after surgery. And I remember laughing on the inside when she told my father, who had recently retired, that he'd better find something to do because she was still working! She finally finally retired at age 68.

When she was subsequently diagnosed with liver cancer she continued beleive that she would beat this one as well. My father had a massive stroke and died two months before their 57th wedding anniversary. My mother she lost her battle with liver cancer one year and ten days after he died.

My mother was my hero, and I do not use that word lightly. I know she would be uncomfortable with me saying it but here it goes: loving, tough, caring, fearless, wonderful, scared, human, compassionate, quick witted, smart, a great listener and a role model for both me and my daughter!

She was a true entrepreneur and no matter what life tried to throw at her to deter her from that path, her spirit, belief, passion, faith and her family kept her coming back time and time again.
How was your mother an inspiration in your life? I would love to hear your stories, connect with me on twitter @janeblaufus.

Jane Blaufus is an Author, Professional Speaker and Catalyst for ‘Courageous Conversations'. Her book, WITH THE [STROKE] OF A PENTM, Claim your life shares her personal story, struggles and lessons learned following the unexpected death of her first husband. She has been featured on the CTV National News Channel, CBC's Lang and O'Leary Exchange, CHCH Morning Live, CFRB and CTV News at Noon.