Monday, April 21, 2014

To Think...

...That at the time of my last blog post I imagined starting posting somewhat regularly again about my gardening adventures here in Australia.

...That I believed Mum had a few more months left & that we'd have time to talk, laugh & cry again together.

...That the hardest part of my upcoming trip home to New Zealand in a little over a week would be leaving to come home, not knowing if I'd ever get back in time see her alive again.

...That those phone calls I was making to her room in the Hospice were enough to keep me abreast of how well she was doing.

As it turned out none of the above were true.
I arrived in New Zealand just before midnight on the 2nd April planning on some rest before spending the next day & every one of my stay there after with her, only to be told by my brother during the trip from the Airport to Mum's place that I should go to the hospital that she'd been transferred to right then as he thought she was only hanging on to see me. I was stunned - shaken to my core.

I was further shaken when I saw her - a far cry from the photo that had been sent four days earlier, taken when her Doctor brought her dog in for a visit.
Thirty Four sleepless hours later, surrounded continuously by the three women closest to her (my two gorgeous Aunts & myself) she was gone.

The last thing I expected to be doing on this trip was to have to try & compose a eulogy for my Mother.Apparently she hadn't wanted a formal funeral - rather a celebration of her life. While I could respect the fact that she didn't want us to be somber & sad, I found it incredibly difficult to be light hearted & frivolous when my heart was so heavy.  I also struggled with whether I had the ability to hold myself together while reading anything at all out - let alone anything too evocative.
I hope that I did her justice with the following:

And now she rests at peace. The amazing, vibrant, beautiful woman I called "Mum".
Yet she was so much more than just my Mum.  She was Sister, Wife, Nana, Sister-in-law, Aunty, Cousin & Friend. I know that I will not be alone in feeling the void that her passing will leave in my life.

She was also a lot more than just “Mum” to me – she was a friend, confidant, staunch supporter of my many endeavours & of course the ultimate enabler  when we went shopping together … something best avoided at all costs as we would both end up spending more than we should!

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t realise how blessed I have been to have landed the Mum that I did…well ok, maybe there were a few rough patches in my rebellious teenage years, but for the most part I knew I’d scored pretty darn well in the Mother stakes! As I told her, & a number of other people, I couldn’t have had a better Mother if I’d been able to choose one for myself.

I’ve always known that it takes a pretty special person to be able to take on & love a baby that they didn’t create themselves & Mum did that…& then some! Both her & Dad’s capacity for unconditional love was immense – along with their ability for complete forgiveness ( & Heaven knows they had to practise that a few times!).

I always admired the fact that Mum could be upset, hurt or angry about something – work through those emotions quickly, then move on & put those feelings behind her, once again seeing only the good in people & taking pleasure out of the part they played in her life. From that I learned that while we can’t control the way people act – we can control how we react to it….. & that a sense of humour always helps!!

Witty, amusing, slightly naughty – that was my Mum!

I have so many memories of her part in my life (& lets face it – it was a pretty big part, given that she is the woman who has influenced me more than any other) – that it would take me hours just to scratch the surface.
The one that outshines them all though was being brought up surrounded by love & security - something that, when I think back, was like a big warm fluffy, blanket. This wasn’t only provided by Mum & Dad – but also by my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles & Cousins. Family gatherings full of love, laughter, intriguing tales of Malta, England & New Zealand. Then there were the family holidays, &  later the bach at Waikuku, parties & dinner parties. Life was never dull.
Oh, yes – I do remember the bottles of Galliano & Vok, the mixing of Martinis - along with the wines, spirits & great food!!

So I get to add amazing cook, cocktail mixer & adventurous, outgoing lady to the list.

My earliest memory of Mum is of her lifting a blanket & saying “ boo” to me when I was still in my cot…& for some reason sitting completely under my cot blanket when I suspect I was meant to be sleeping (perhaps getting into practice for later years when I’d read under the blankets with a pilfered torch when I was meant to be asleep).
One of my last memories will be Mum saying that she just wanted to be normal – I knew what she meant, but told her “Normal is a cycle on the washing machine, Mum… & you have never been normal – how boring would that be!” I should have added “ You were outstanding”.

So to all of those people who have ever been there for Mum – I thank you.
To my two fabulous (yet slightly crazy) Aunts, Yvonne & Elaine – you have my eternal gratitude. Not only were you there for Mum in those last days – but you were there for me as well, offering care & hugs, sharing tears & laughter at the time when we were all on the edge of despair. I love you both with all my heart!
Of course you do realise that now you have another daughter….don’t you?