On the 29th of September 2013 I lost my Mum.
It still feels surreal and little bit stupid to say those words.
I have so much I want to say about my Mum’s passing. To share with you the amazing loving courage of my Darling Dad, my sisters Suzannah and Bronwyn, our husbands and our children. To share how my Mum was so very clearly comforted by having us surround her on her last day here on earth.
Instead, just let me share with you the Memories of my Mum, that I read at her amazing Memorial Service.
I have tried to write this about 100 times so far. Well, some number like that anyway.
Firstly, I want to share with you today some of the things that I wrote to Mum for her and Dad’s 40th Anniversary party.
Mum taught me about generosity. I saw her giving food and time and sharing her skills and patterns and so much more for all of my life. She would often arrive at my house with some appliance that apparently she “just didn’t need any more and thought I could use”. Whenever we left Mum & Dad’s, Mum would always make sure that I took some food home with me. Breadrolls, fruit from the basket, leftover dinner. Anything.
As you can see here today Mum was a colourful and creative soul. Mum taught me about the importance of making time and space for our creative endeavours. As someone who can tend to get caught up in the responsibility and the seriousness of life, it has been a wonderful lesson for me.
I always knew that Mum believed in me, far beyond my own confidence. Whenever I had exams at uni, I would wear any and every piece of jewellery that Mum & Dad had given me, so that I took their belief in with me. Mum, thank you for that gift.
Mum and I have had some rough patches in our road together. I have, with the perspective of time, been able to thank her for the gifts that came from those experiences. Mum has taught me about family, the importance of connection, and the ability with loving grace, to rebuild relationships.
But the best of her was not found in any of those things. What will truly be missed, will be my everyday moments with her. And like any one of us, Mum was a person of light and shade. I will leave the shade in the past, where it belongs, and instead focus on the light.
When I first stopped and just thought about Mum and my childhood, one of the first memories that came flooding back to me was of Mum hosing the yard. Most afternoons, between the busyness of the after school flurry and the family dinner around the table, Mum could be found standing the yard hosing the garden. It always seemed like such a waste of time. She looked like she was just standing there, doing nothing. But what a wonderful way to find your centre again, in the busy never ending mundane of life with a young family and the eternal “what’s for dinner”.
I remember walking home from school, and just loving it when Mum had some afternoon tea fresh for us ready to eat, maybe a tea cake or some pikelets. And a good tea cake, needs melted butter & cinnamon sugar on top. Warm pikelets needed golden syrup that dripped over your fingers. Yum!
I remember Mum driving me to music lessons before school. Which by itself is pretty cool. But by the time I was learning music, Mum also had 2 very small children to manage. She would bundle the girls and I into the car, drive me to Bracken Ridge, wait in the car with the girls during my lesson, then drive me to school afterwards. Looking back, I can’t quite imagine how she pulled that off week after week. And if she could manage to do that, I probably should have managed to practice a bit more!
I loved that Mum was never quite what she seemed. Mum was pretty conservative with a keen sense of using polite language. She was also the one most likely to find a bit of a risqué quip, which would lead to us falling about in stitches! Mum was very conscious of her size and worried a lot about what people thought of her. And yet she would add some bling and plenty of colour to everything that she wore and used. Perhaps even more surprising, was her complete comfort at walking around the house in the nude! In fact, one day Errol Hosie came & was knocking at the front door. Mum had just finished in the shower and of course hadn’t taken any clothes with her. If she had walked straight to her bedroom, Errol would have seen her in her glory. Instead, and to make sure that Errol didn’t see her, Mum went out the side door of the house, walked around the corner of house and came back into the laundry to put on some clothes, so she could answer the door. Never mind the neighbours, Mum!
I remember in high school, when Mum and Dad seemed to have some of the tightest rules going around (thanks for those, by the way, Dad) Mum would make me clothes that were following the latest fashion. Remember those ra ra skirts & bubble skirts. My friends at school couldn’t believe me when I told them that not only was my Mum fine with the fact that I had dyed my hair, but in fact, that she had bought the hair colour for me.
Although being a Grandma was only a relatively short part of her 62 years, it was a role that fit her so very well. In fact, at home, she has a wall hanging that says “Happiness is being a Grandma”. Mum was always ready to give her grandchildren her wonderful big warm squishy hugs, usually slipping a little treat into their hand at the same time. She was always keeping her eye out in the catalogues for things that the children were into, often arriving at home with a tea set, or a pack of cars, or a new ball that she had thought would be just right.
After my Mum’s stroke, the thing that truly broke my heart, was the first time when she couldn’t remember Sabrina’s name. I knew that my Mum, my before the stroke Mum, would have been devastated if she had known. However, in the end a name is just a word, and her brain just wouldn’t find words reliably for her again.
Instead, Dad slipped in to fill the gaps for Mum. In fact, this week, while we have been talking together about what we love about Grandma and how we’re going to miss her, Sabrina in one of her sad moments was crying because she would no longer get chocolates when she leaves Grandma and Grandad’s. She’s 5. Freddos are a big deal! Anyway, what I thought was beautiful about this, is that the chocolates as you leave had originally been Grandma’s doing. But once Mum could no longer shop, or unpack the shopping, or really even make sure the children had their chocolates, somehow Dad had filled that gap, without the grandchildren seeing it any differently.
There are so many stories I could tell, and things I could say about Mum, but the only things that truly matter are that I loved my Mum, she loved me, my husband Dean and our children.
We are all going to miss her terribly.
I will make sure that we talk about her often, share her stories, and her legacy will live on in us.
I can just hear her saying “Oh girls, you look so lovely” if we had been able to parade in front of her in those dresses (as we usually did with any clothing find).
Mum, I will love you forever and always. Enjoy the freedom from struggle x