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?


Sharon Driscoll said...

That is an absolutely beautiful tribute to your Mom. She is feeling well loved in heaven right now...but then I suspect she always knew that.

Patty said...

Deb, your family sounds wonderful, but I'm not surprised at all. Your sweet memories of your mom will keep her spirit alive in your life. I'm sending you a big virtual hug from California.