For Maureen Eykelenboom Grief is a Journey
Maureen Eykelenboom has dedicated the past eight years to the Boomer’s Legacy Foundation in honour of her fallen son Corporal Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom, a medical technician killed in Afghanistan.
Recently she bravely made the decision to make some personal changes, letting others run the foundation so she could refocus on other areas of her life, like her health and her five grandchildren.
“Back in 2006 when I was on the plane headed to Trenton to collect Andrew’s body I felt he was saying to me, ‘It’s okay Mom. I am in a better place. I did what I needed to do, and now it is your turn. Help my buddies,” said Eykelenboom.
She knew she could help Andrew’s soldier friends by providing a way for them to help others. If they could put a smile on a child’s face, they might come home from deployment feeling better about their tour, and that might make it easier to cope with the horrors they had been through.
Eykelenboom created Boomer’s Legacy Foundation, and over one million dollars was raised to support projects undertaken by Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel to better the lives of children all over the world.
After years of dedication and hard work, this past October Eykelenboom gave the foundation over to the CAF Support Our Troops program for management. Handing over the reigns was not easy, but she knew the foundation would be well managed.
“At first, I just took some time to breath easy, ignoring many of the wrap-up things that I needed to do for Boomer’s Legacy Foundation. I needed the break. After going hard for more than eight years since Andrew was killed I just needed a break,” said Eykelenboom.
This summer Eykelenboom is heading to Europe fundraise for another organization. A few years ago she added riding a bicycle to Vimy Ridge to her personal bucket list. Looking for things to do to fill the void of running Boomer’s Legacy Eykelenboom decided to train to complete in this year’s Wounded Warriors Battlefield Bike Ride in Europe.
She set goals to not only train in spin class, but ride a minimum of 1,000 kilometres on the road before June.
“Getting on a road bike was something that I had never done and needed to learn to do. I still find it scary to ride beside traffic. I still dislike hills, but I am cycling. I am determined to accomplish this 600 kilometre ride through France, Belgium and Holland,” said Eykelenboom.
For her, the ride will be part of her personal journey of healing. Eykelenboom says grief never totally goes away. She has learned new coping strategies and learned how to build new memories, but the loss of Andrew from her life is ever present.
She is so proud of the military members she knows, proud of her son, what he stood for and his giving nature. Even though the tears sometimes still fall she is moving forward with her head high, her feet clipped in and a smile on her face.