Saturday, May 09, 2009


I think of my mother sometimes, a little annoyed that she's no longer here to just phone because I am thinking of her, I have things to tell her, then it's so sad when I remember again...

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 I miss her. She was so full of life, in ways that I didn't really understand until later. Sometimes we need distance to see our parents as individuals, with lives and dreams of their own.

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 a 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 grounds-woman at the school next door to our place, she loved driving the tractor that mowed the massive grass areas in our old school. She worked in a sheepskin factory for a while and then, as her children and confidence grew, she went back to school for secretarial 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 mum, 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 embarrassment, 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 almost destroyed me, played full volume in the local Catholic church.

I was given my first speaking engagement ... farewelling my mum, following her 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.

Note: I should have mentioned this was first written in 2006 and I reposted it, missing mum immensely yesterday.


furiousBall said...

this was very sweet amiga.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

Lydia said...

This was beautiful, Di. Your write so descriptively that I am leaving your blog today with a real sense of who your mother was and of your relationship, special. I loved the way you expressed all this without sappy sentimentality. It makes it more real life, like the real life mother you loved. I lost my mom to cancer in 2000 and have only written one piece about her. I absolutely understand the strange things happening that you described while writing you speech. Last night I was scavenging through old files looking for the piece I wrote about her and couldn't find it. I think it was lost in a computer crash we had last year. But I did find a little brown satchel from my childhood that I've been searching for for years, literally. It holds letters from my pen pal in Austria in 1963 and I've wanted to share them with Francessa in Vienna to see if she can find this person. So I think my mom thought that was more important than finding the other thing. :)

Barbara said...

A truly stunning piece, Di, and I imagine your mum (what was her given name?) would be thanking heaven right about now for the chance to have been your mum!

Peter said...

A most touching piece remembering your mother Di,
a woman I've never known but whose strength, inquisitiveness and kindness you seem to have inherited.

Whenever you wander with your camera you're following in her footsteps: discovering new places, people and challenges.

kompoStella said...

oh... i'm crying and it's not even 9 am...
this piece of writing is a particularly loving way of remembering and healing. i am very impressed with your honesty, too and imagine that summing up a huge and shaping memory like a mothers is a difficult, yet essential task.
my mother is still (very much) alive but i know your feeling of annoyance from thinking of my grandmother. i sometimes actually curse out loud (which probably marks me as a total freak) when i realise that i cannot call her. i've even dialled the number a few times before i got to the cursing part.
your mother sounds as if she was a lovely person - thank you ever so much for sharing your memory of her in this unsentimental & brilliant way.

paris parfait said...

What a lovely tribute to your mom and her role in your life, Di. She would have been so proud of you. xoxox

Carolien said...

What a beautiful and moving tribute to your Mum, Di. You made me cry.

ML said...

I had not realized before how much you look like your Mom, even though I had seen that picture before. All through your lovely comments, I kept seeing YOU as the personification of your Mom! She would have been so proud of you and what you have become! ( As for the gardening, I well remember the beautiful garden your Dad still kept up. I think you are right, your outdoor garden would have been taken over completely! ) How wonderful to have some loving memories of your Mom! And happy Mother's Day to you!!

christina said...

Beautiful post, Di. Your mum was a wonderful woman, as you are.

Jule's Short Story said...

OMG sitting here with tears. Thanks for this piece about your lovely mum. Thinking of you.

RD said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman, Di. Beautiful words.

Regina said...

Beautiful so touching. Lost my mom too.

Anonymous said...

I found out last Thursday my mom has cancer. Couldn't they have told her after Mother's Day?
We are optimistic and I hadn't cried about it until I read your post. I would have cried anyway though as what you wrote is touching.
My mom is hard to reach by phone, but the day it becomes an impossibility will weaken me.

Di Mackey said...

Thank you for your lovely comments guys, but anonymous - one of my best friends had grade 4 bowel cancer and she won her battle with it.

I don't know what your mother's diagnosis was but hopefully it is one she can fight. Good luck in the days ahead.

V-Grrrl said...

I almost never write about my mother but now I'm probably ready to. She's been gone for 17 years and time has helped me sift through and order impressions, ideas, memories of her.

It was Mother's Day in America on Sunday, and I realize one of my big regrets is that I never had the opportunity to relate to my mother as an adult, to speak to her woman-to-woman. She had me in her 40s, died when I was relatively young, and the generation gap loomed large when I was a teen.

Kay said...

Di, That is so beautiful. Deeply felt, unsentimental and very real. Thank you so much. I got such a well rounded impression of your lovely, lovely Mum - she sounds soooo kiwi!!! I can understand the pain of Mother's Day for you. You will miss her forever , I know.