Monday, December 26, 2016

Today We Celebrate "Carole Day"

Today, Boxing Day, we celebrate my Mum. First & foremost in our family, Boxing Day was Mum's Birthday.

I'll never forget her telling us when we were younger about one year, when she was a youngster, no one remembered her birthday until after lunch time.
As a child back in England,  her extended family would get together & stay with an Uncle (& Aunt) who was the caretaker for a school over the Christmas season. Both of my Grandparents came from large families & this was the only venue that could accommodate everyone. Mum had wonderful memories of this time - but the 'almost forgotten' birthday had stayed with her, too.

Knowing that, we always prioritised her Birthday over "Boxing Day".
Mum's wish for her Birthday was always to be surrounded by all of her family - but to not have to do any work. As adults we tried to make that happen with limited amounts of success. The time of year & outside invitations would sometimes get in the way - especially as our family got bigger.

The joy of a summer birthday - picnics & cricket with family.

Although I miss her every single day, I have also come to realise that I carry her with me.
On the surface I miss sharing my excitement at new things & discoveries with her - knowing that she is only as far away as a quick message on Facebook, a video chat on Skype or at the end of a phone line. I miss having someone that shared many of the same interests & the same tastes in things as I do. I miss her encouragement in my projects & joy she would show at their completion.

At a deeper level I have realised that I  carry her with me in pretty much everything I do. She is there in almost everything I attempt.
Every book I read I know whether Mum would have enjoyed it or not. Every TV program or series I watch has, in some way, been shaped by those that Mum enjoyed. I can't help but think as I watch Outlander, Wolf Hall & Versailles how much Mum would have enjoyed them.

When I garden & there will be some part of the process that I look up & notice something....& think "Oh, Mum would have loved this one".
I sew & I hear her saying "I wish I could sew like you Deb, I never could sew well"( although that was an absolute crock, she could!!) or I sit with crocheting or knitting, don't like they way things look, so  pull the work undone & change the pattern  - then hear her saying "You are such a perfectionist, Deb!". I can't even get away from it when I go out shopping - I see clothes & homewares & think "Ohhhhh, Mum would have loved that". She had such great, trendy taste in clothes & knew what suited her & what didn't.

I think the only thing we didn't share was her love of cooking & baking.
I'm working on that though & I am pretty sure that she was sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear "texture, Deb - it's all about the dough texture" when I had another go at her shortbread the other day. I know it was her hand guiding me when I made the Mandarin Mousse & had to adjust the liquid to allow for the fact that the jellies here in Australia seem to set a lot firmer than the jellies available in NZ.
I know I was subconsciously channelling her on Christmas Eve when I was making the stuffing, realised that I didn't have any celery & uttered a very specific string of expletives - only to hear Allan say "Yes, Carole". lol!

This morning I celebrated with the perfect Mandarin Mousse for Breakfast, in one of
her bowls! But this time I had made it!
As a very wise friend recently said "Birthdays are all about birth, not how many years one reaches, not about them not being here, but about the fact they were here - that is what we celebrate".

So to the Mum who shaped me in more ways than I ever realised - "Happy 79th Birthday".
Thank you for all of  your beautiful, positive input in my life - for showing me, through example, the true meaning of the word "strength" & for your constant unconditional love & encouragement.

To any family who don't think that "public"(as in within my friends lists) displays of grief or of missing people are appropriate, or that ongoing recognition of special dates are the done thing - you quite obviously didn't understand Mum as well as you thought you did.

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