Sunday, April 23, 2006


I was thinking of my mother this morning, annoyed that she's no longer here to just phone because I am thinking of her, then so sad when I remembered...

Odd things make me think of her.

Our balcony garden. It's under construction ... a twinkle in the eye, a wrinkle in the wallet. I told Gert of mum, explaining that if she flew in from New Zealand she would make the balcony garden her project and we'd be left with something quite stunning.

My parents loved gardening ... dad still does but mum died back in 1999 and this morning I miss her. She was so full of life, in ways that I didn't understand until later; until I could compare her with others.

In retrospect I see that my mother was fearless ... or perhaps it was that she wasn't afraid to do things that scared her. She did things ahead of her time and moved onto the next thing as she grew. She married my father back in '63 and they had 4 kids. They bought a house and made it our home, creating a constantly changing garden of vegetables and flowers; we buried our pets there over the years.

Back then, Dad was a plasterer, painter and paperhanger. He was perfect for her ... she would have an decorating idea and he would come home to a paperless room and a wife with a plan for his weekend. It makes me smile to remember some of her surprises. She was cute like that and completely shameless about whatever it was that she had done.

Mum was a mother but she did other things too ... she worked as a groundswoman at the school next door to our place, she loved driving the tractor that mowed the massive grass areas in our school. She worked in a small sheepskin factory for a while and then, as her children and confidence grew, she went back to school for secreterial qualifications ... shy and uncertain of self in a strange way, she did things anyway. She was rapt when she was hired by a government department.

She never stopped being our mother, in her way, and her way was special ... a little bit like her cooking, which was memorable. My friends seemed to love coming over to my place .. much to my teenage embarassment, and she helped them when they organised a couple of surprise birthdays for me or perhaps they were her idea, I don't know for sure. My boyfriends came over and hung round too, enjoying the sweet fun of her.

I was a year married when she informed me I was pregnant meanwhile I was imagining mononucleosis again ... and later she came to visit me as a new mum, told me that I was doing well and left on the same day. It took a long time to forgive her for that but I understand now.

She was so full of life when they told her the cancer was terminal. She was working plans to explore the world some, and she'd always had this dream of living in a house next to the sea.

Her liver had been paining her a little and my mum, who liked the occasional gin, asked me if I thought it might be the alcohol. I laughed at her then, my mum never drank enough to do any harm to her liver.

We had just over 3 months with her after that ... chance found me living at home for a while, living between two towns and two families - the old and the new. I was finally earning my university degree when she began dying. I was lucky to be there in those days.

She became defined by her 'dont worry, be happy', trying for smiles from those who were already mourning her loss.

When she died her farewell filled the church ...there were people who really cared about her; it would have surprised her I think, she was like that, not understanding the impact she made.

She had planned her own funeral and almost devastated us with some of the music she chose ... Queen was most poignant, played full volume in the local Catholic church.

I was given my first speaking engagement ... farewelling my mum with instructions not to single out anyone for special thanks because there really were too many people to thank, she didn't want to forget or undervalue anyone. I worked on that speech for hours on the night before the funeral ... had computer crashes, memory failures ... strange unexplained things, each time I tried to break her rules and just thank her doctor or some other person who had been so important.

That was mum ...

Someplace Else

Imagine if she didn't really die
That it was her I saw this morning
at breakfast, by the window that
looked out over the bay.

That our pain was imagined, and
her pain was a nightmare of mine.
That this morning I woke up and
remembered she lived someplace else.

Or maybe I just caught a small glimpse of her heaven
A cottage, with a big window and a view out over the sea.


Mark J said...

I always remember your mum as such a lovely lady with a brilliant sense of humour. You family home was alway full of fun loving people coming and going - a hive of activity, a meeting place for neighbourhood kids it seemed. All these great memories flooding in now from seemly nowhere, because of your post. Thank you :)

woman wandering said...

There were some great memories ... this is probably your fault - memories of bullrush and all that.

I remember some of the best waterfights started in our backyard in the summer and everyone appeared when the gooseberries were ready to eat ;)

traveller one said...

That's beautiful. Thanks for sharing a little of your mother with us- I mean me.

Alison said...

What a lovely tribute. I'm sure she would be proud to know that her daughter has her fearless and adventuresome spirit.

wandering-woman said...

Gorgeous post, Di. Gorgeous.

So very happy to come over and find your beatiful poem here.

Does sound like you have a lot of her in you.

woman wandering said...

A pleasure travelling one, and thanks Alison.

Ahhh the poem .. :) thanks, you inspired me.