Now I know the title is a little harsh but sadly it is the truth. Last Mother's Day I spent it sitting by my Mums hospital bed. She was having a bad day and was asleep most of the day. I quietly sat beside her all day, holding her hand occasionally, or waving her fringe from her face. She was so frail and weak at this point; she died one week later.
I took a break from her bedside on this emotionally charged day one year ago, weeping as I walked to a nearby precinct called Claremont and sat for a sorrowful solo lunch. I sat despondently with my salad, crunching my way through it without joy only to satiate hunger, realising that Mother's Day would never be the same again. My Mum was dying and would never be the same vibrant awesome inspiring loving and joyful woman who had been my main feature in life to this point.
In previous years, Mother's Day had been a celebrated occasion and one we would look forward to sharing together. I would buy her a collection of gifts, ranging from perfume, clothes, new pyjamas or shoes, and take her out for lunch or dinner or both. Often I would make her a card, personalising it just for her, which she loved so much. I would cut images out of magazines and make a collage and always write lots of meaningful loving words to tell her how much I loved her and valued her in my life. She was a great Mum to me and I told her this frequently. Every day we would say the words, 'I love you', her catch phrase reply would be 'I love you more'. She was a very loving woman and she would not only tell me she loved me but often her friends too. She threw that word around so easily, which is rare these days. I now express to my friends that I love them as often as I can emulating her openness. When I really feel it, I say the words; love is such a powerful emotion and an authentic expression which comes from your inner being.
Do you know my Mum never threw away any of the cards or letters I sent her over the years? There were so many over the years from all over the world! Since she died, it has been my gruesome task to sift through her beloved belongings and decide what needs to go and what I should keep. I realise that stuff is only valued by the person who values it. And wow, she really valued all my letters! I used to write to her from everywhere I travelled to, places such as London, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Canada, Guatemala, Bahrain. I would send her postcards and detailed letters from all over the world to keep her up to date; no matter how far away I was, she was always in my mind and heart.
As I look back on all the letters I wrote to her over the years, they read as a stream of ideas and thoughts and activities, keeping her up to date with all my antics. Communication was an open channel between us, even what was not said was often said. Do you know what I mean? We knew each other so intimately well, we really had such a special and close bond I know will last forever. Just now it is not physical anymore, but I do sense her around me in spirit, and see and feel little signs from her frequently. I know this is her way of reminding me that she is still very much in my life.
One time a few years ago, I was living in Guatemala and I had a sudden anxious and urgent feeling I had to speak to my Mum. I called her first thing on waking, and as I suspected something terrible was happening. She was in fact so upset and traumatised she couldn't talk. My mum had suffered a series of set backs at this stage of her life, from chopping and changing jobs to ending up working in a nursing home, where her kind hearted soul suffered a very serious emotional and physical breakdown. My Mum was never good at asking for help when she needed it, she always put on a front, a cover up, pretending everything was good when in fact it was absolutely terrible. At this point, she had really hit rock bottom, but just could not ask for help when she needed it so badly. Call it pride or stubbornness, either way not being able to ask for help is something that we can all face at times in our lives, but so crucial to overcome at such desperate times.
Her disastrous state meant trouble for me too. I acted immediately, I called my Dad and asked him to talk her around. Although they were divorced, he knew her like no one else did, and he did successfully get her through that precarious night. I really felt my Mum was suicidal this night. My suspicions were correct I found out later. It was morning for me as I was on the other side of the world, but I knew something was gravely wrong and I had to act quickly to help her. I went to school that day and straight to the principal to ask for some time off. I booked international flights from one side of the world to the other in an hour and by that night I was boarding a plane. My mad dash panic to get back to Perth was warranted, meeting me at the airport my mum was a mere shadow of her usual vibrant energetic self. Her depression had caused severe weight loss and a large dark heavy shadow hung over her head and bony slumped shoulders . When I gave her a massive warm hug, her emaciated waif like figure embraced me in return; I could feel her relief to see me, I knew I had made it just in time.
In the ten days I was home I established the financial assistance she needed, made her warm meals nightly and we spent quality time together. I hugged her lots, laid in bed with her spooning her; and soothing her weary mind and tired body. Her grief slowly lifted and she found her feet again.
Within months my Mum had found her way again, working as a volunteer and immersing herself into new creative projects. On my return from Guatemala I lived with her for a year or so, before I departed for my next overseas adventure. I would always come and go, we would talk everyday and always stay in close contact, no matter where I was in the world. She was always grateful for my emergency rescue mission, and I was glad that I had her in my life for a few more years.
Now that she is gone physically, I still talk to her; and I send out my love to her, knowing that I cannot see her anymore, but I can definitely feel her warm spirit around me, reminding me that our love and connection is eternal.
I need to find a new way to celebrate Mother's Day. Perhaps this will now be a day of reflection for the many wonderful years we had together. I plan to spend the day at the beach, in the sun, doing things I love that bring me joy; I am hoping this will lift my mood on a day predicted to be emotional.
I love you Mum.
I know if she could see me creating all these blog posts she would be so proud of me, and in awe of my ability. She could never fathom all the things I did. She never travelled overseas, nor did she even own a passport. She would live vicariously through me as I took one adventure after another, and now she will continue to join me on my journey in life, in my heart and in my memories, she will live on.
Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful Mums out there. Love and cherish your Mum while you can, because they will not be around forever, don't take that time for granted. Make time for each other, learn from her wisdom and tell her you love her.
Like I no longer can.
These roses are all for you, roses were my Mums favourite flower.
Love Anita xx
“The greatest joys in life are not found in our possessions; the greatest joys come from precious moments spent with those we love, and are found only in our hearts. ” – Adele Basheer.