Tribute to Nicole Mahussier
Last week we lost a beloved school parent and friend in Nicole Mahussier. Below is a tribute to her written by her close friend Cathy…
Good Afternoon! On behalf of the Hiemstra/Mahussier families I would like to thank everyone for being here as we honour the life of Nicole Mahussier, and for the tremendous outpouring of love and support that has come during this time of sorrow. My name is Cathy Dodd and I had the great privilege of calling Nicole my friend. My friendship with Nicole started almost 11 years ago with the question “would you like to play farm animals with me?”. These words were not actually said between Nicole and I, but her oldest daughter Lily asking our daughter Alex in the first few days of kindergarten. Our family was fortunate that this friendship blossomed because I soon met Lily’s mom Nicole, and was immediately drawn to her sense of humour, her infectious laugh, her down to earth no nonsense personality and strong family values. You can see by all the people here today how easy it was to love her.
When Nicole and I realized we both also had 2 year olds, her youngest daughter Lauren, and our son Josh, we knew right away our friendship was meant to be, Lauren and Josh quickly also became best buds and it went from there. Our family’s friendship with Nicole and the Hiemstra’s over the last 11 years had developed into that of the daily kind. Figuring out who was driving who where, comparing what to make for dinner, planning the next family get together or simply just checking in.
And so it has been a tremendous honour for me, with the help of Nicole’s family and friends to put some words together in an attempt to share with you …….all of the beauty that was Nicole Mahussier.
It all began on July 16 1967 when a force to be reckoned with was born into this world. Nicole was the youngest of the 5 children born to Louis and Louise Mahussier, the youngest sister to Melanie, Michele, Rene and Real. Often when I would comment with admiration on Nicole’s bold personality, she would reply, “Well when you are the youngest of 5 kids, that’s how it had to be.”
Nicole was very bright, even from an early age they knew she was smart. Her sister Melanie shared a story of Nicole when she was probably in grade 2, sitting down having cereal for breakfast and since there was no TV at the kitchen table, she would read the back of the cereal boxes. One day Nicole piped up and said “I like Corn Flakes because they are full of niacin and riboflavin” This academic side was exhibited throughout her whole life, she told me in her teenage years she used to set her alarm in the middle of the night to get up to study so nobody would know. Not only did she receive her bachelors degree in Criminology from Simon Fraser University, but then later went on to achieve her Masters In CRIM, leading to her profession in probation.
Not only was she Smart, but tenacious, independent and unique.
Speaking of unique, her brother Rene still smiles when he thinks about his little sister snacking choices. He thought she must have been a rabbit, as Nicole would bound into the kitchen, open the fridge door, grab a head of lettuce and rip off a large chunk to eat as her snack.
And talk about tenacious: One of my favourite Nicole story’s was when she was still in elementary school. The Catholic Church did not yet allow girls to be altar servers, but Nicole wanted to serve mass, and she couldn’t understand why girls were left out. She was very persistent – as we all know- and finally got the priest to break down and make an exception. She served mass weekday mornings at 8am for many years. This legacy has carried on as both Lily and Lauren have had their rotations in serving mass Sunday mornings, as a matter of fact Lauren still does.
Nicole was always a talker. Her neighbours and other family loved it when Nicole would come to visit. She would entertain them with stories about what was happening in their family, in the neighbourhood and at school.
I too loved Nicole’s flair for story telling as It really helped me get to know her. I loved hearing many stories about her growing up here in Cloverdale, attending Cloverdale Catholic School, Junior High at St. Angela’s Academy for girls, and her high school years at Lord Tweedsmuir. She fondly talked about playing cribbage with her dad and how he would never just let her win, she had to earn it. She talked about her enterprising career as the most sought after babysitter and how she negotiated herself a raise in pay and job responsibilities during her time working at Art Knapps. And she was filled with stories about her 2 best friends Christina and Michaeleen. Christina recently shared with me many stories of their friendship over the years, including camping trips, pub nights, and a lot of singing, but what I loved to hear the most was how her longest standing friend described her………she said:
“Nicole had the same cackling laugh as her mother and she used it often. She was wicked smart, with an impish spirit, had a beautiful singing voice, and the strongest sense of justice of anyone I knew – God help the person that took her parking space!. She was a social butterfly in the best sense of the term, always spoke her mind, got involved, and helped out whenever she could. She was the kind of person that would lend you her car without needing to know why you needed it. She was so insightful, could cut to the heart of the issue and gave the best no nonsense advice, while always taking your side. She was the “break glass in case of emergency” friend. ”
Ok, how amazing is that, “break glass in case of emergency friend”. I Love it and couldn’t agree more!
Nicole inherently had a great sense of duty to make the world around her a better place.
This was evidenced in her job as a probations officer, and while she maintained her much needed “firm and by the book attitude” you could tell that there was that underlying sense of compassion that Nicole had for everyone.
Even outside of work she had a firm but kind way of keeping people in line… right Murphy?
Nicole was forever offering to lend a hand. She would quarterback whatever was needed because that is who she was.
My husband Mike eventually nicknamed her Goose. In the movie Top Gun, while flying the character Goose would tell his partner Maverick what was coming up and what he needed to do, that was Nicole. When the phone rang, I always knew it was her when Mike would answer “talk to me Goose” and with Nicole’s fun spirit she reciprocated by calling my husband Mav. Even though Mike is nowhere near that cool. Rob knows better than anyone what it was like to be Nicole’s Maverick.
Many people, teams, charities and organizations benefited by Nicole’s involvement. Her childrens schools, and sports teams, and even this Parish as she was a big contributor organizing the yearly parish Bazaar, she sang in the choir and more recently had become a Eucharistic minister.
Nicole was raised with wonderful old fashioned values, and was devoted to family. She loved her nieces and nephews and was a very involved aunt. Her niece Arielle tried to describe it when she said: I would say that she was the most devoted aunt to all of her nieces and nephews, but I feel like those words don’t do a good enough job of describing how amazing of an aunt she was to all of us. She was always the one to take us to the newest movies, have us over for sleepovers and take us to do our Christmas shopping during the busiest time of the year. Her devotion to them continued even when she had a family of her own.
The Beginnings of her own family started when Nicole first met Rob when they were both performing and acting in a play which was back in 1989. And her friends knew she was in for it when she told them she met a guy who would really stand up to her.
Rob and Nicole eventually were married on June 13 1998, having just celebrated their 20 year anniversary this past June. Her brother Real remembers Nicole’s wedding day as one of his most special memories, as one can imagine seeing your youngest sister marry a wonderful man.
Years later on Sept 24, 2003 they had their first daughter Lily, and Nicole was over the moon. She always wanted children. Then to add to her delight in being a mom, Lauren was born April 22, 2006 to complete their family. Nicole loved them so much that even though she was dedicated to her work, she thought nothing of going down to part time to be more available to care for her girls. Providing everything the girls needed in life drove Nicole. She was so proud of them, and from the moment she become a mom her stories revolved around the girls, what they were doing, funny things they said, school, sports you name it. Lily and Lauren deservingly dominated her conversations.
With the pure intention of providing an incredible experience for the girls, Nicole and Rob went on some great trips as a family. Wonderful memories were had in the Bahamas, and both Disneyland and Disneyworld. One they even pulled off as a complete surprise to the girls, not spilling the beans until they arrived at the airport.
Nicole was an amazing wife, providing unconditional love and always working hard to provide her family an amazing home.
Most of us know that one of Nicole’s favourite pastimes even before she had kids was playing softball. Her and Rob played on a mixed team but then she eventually went on to play with many of her girlfriends on a women’s only team. It made sense that both of her girls would also take up baseball, and the only thing she enjoyed more that playing herself, was to see her girls play the game she loved. As life was busy and hectic they would often find themselves several nights a week in the spring and summer seasons at the ball park, and to the family it was a place of enjoyment and an escape form the stress of everyday life. Nicole loved watching her girls play and was by far the loudest cheering parent.
She loved being a mom.
During the normal trials brought on by raising kids over the years, Nicole’s personal mantra she would use to give herself a moment before reacting, and she would actually say it out loud was
“I love my children, I love my children, I love my children”
which would actually put a smile on her face and bring a calm and loving response to the situation.
Lily and Lauren…….. your mom loved you both so much, unconditionally. She was so proud of the unique gifts you bring to this world. We hear her when Lily laughs and with Lauren’s way with words. We see her in both of you, in your drive, intelligence, compassion and our family knows from personal experience that you are both the “break glass in case of emergency” type of friends. You both have a long and prosperous life ahead of you. Just know that your mom’s spirit lives on in you, and the characteristics that made your mom so special will guide you through life.
In times of sorrow we can look to scripture for some guidance, and it seemed appropriate to turn to First Corinthians Chapter 13 “The Way of Love” which ends:
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it wont be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, Hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is Love.
So we can all take from this. We can all trust steadily in God, continue to have hope, love extravagantly like Nicole did and carry on with the love of Nicole in our hearts.
She will be dearly missed, and as a good friend of hers said to me, I don’t think we will see a can of diet coke, or hear a boisterous laugh and not think of Nicole.