August 8, 2020

This month, I’ll be riding in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada to honour my mom, Marilyn Violet Arial.

The money raised during this challenge will go to the SickKids Foundation. It will allow them to continue their work in developing treatments and finding a cure for childhood cancer.

If you’d like to find out more or donate to the cause, please visit my Great Cycle Challenge Canada page.

Who was Marilyn?

Marilyn Violet Himphen Forrest Arial demonstrated a philosophy of friendship, loyalty and care. Born in Weston Ontario on April 22 1943 during World War II, to a soldier serving in Italy and his bride. Spent her first two years in a multi-generational household with her mom and grandparents before her mom married the man who became dad. Married the love of her life at 19 years old, raised three children, played a mean game of bridge and inspired her friends during book club meetings. Died ten years ago–on June 19, 2010–after a valiant battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Love you forever mom.

Challenging Thoughts Week One

During the first week of this challenge I spent a lot of time remembering the last month of my mom’s life.

Unfortunately, her death and cycling link closely in my mind because I heard about her final hospitalization as I participated in the Tour de L’Ile. Had to cut the day short in order to ride home and drive to the hospital in Ontario.

She remained in the hospital for another few weeks and the entire family spent a lot of time there. I brought a bike with me while visiting her so that I could check out trails near the hospital to update the Ulysses Cycling in Ontario guidebook. The cycling helped me cope.

My sisters, dad and I stayed with her the final week of her life. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath. It’s still a comfort that she didn’t die alone. She was so loved.

Goal for future weeks

Hopefully, the coming weeks will focus on happier members, although I haven’t figured out yet how cycling will fit in because although my mom cycled as a youngster and as a senior, I don’t remember her bicycling at all as I was growing up. She was super supportive about me bicycling, but she didn’t do much herself, at least during those years.

Still, cycling formed a big part of her life and an even bigger part of mine.

Cycling as part of Marilyn’s life

The attached photo of her cycling with her little brother as a teen always makes me laugh.


About the author 

Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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