Thoughts on Mother’s Day… by CM

Unlike my co-contributor, I am not a mother. So Mother’s Day for me has always been about celebrating my own mother. It generally turns into a day where I reflect on my own behaviour as a daughter and question whether or not I am a deserving of such a caring person, when I’m not always the most appreciative recipient. However, Mother’s Day in 2012 demonstrated to myself (and hopefully my mother) that I do indeed treasure her support and everything she has put on the line for us, by supporting her in one of the saddest events in our lives to date.

Rewind to 6:15am Mother’s Day morning 2012… A phone call from my mother’s mobile at such an early hour was not normal motherly behaviour. When I answered and heard my dad’s voice on the other end I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. He was calling to let me know that my nana (mum’s mum) had passed away during the night. It wasn’t a surprise, in that she had been battling a severe case of cancer which had made its way throughout her entire body (or at least impacted on the normal function of the parts that weren’t riddled with cancer). She had moved out from the home she shared with my pop on their farm and was living in an aged care residence. I had seen her a week and a half prior to her passing- at that stage she knew who I was and was able to manage short conversations with me. A couple of days later Dad had called to say that she wasn’t in a good way and that if I wanted to say goodbye now would be the time. I chose not to. I didn’t want my last memory of her to be this frail body that had betrayed her and hid the strength and courage she had shown for her past 84 years. Then she got better. For a few days. Then she went back downhill. And then, at around 2:30am on Mother’s Day morning, she passed away in her sleep, around the same time her eldest son had been picked up from the airport by my parents, after flying in from Norway.

As I hung up the phone after speaking with Dad I was in a state of emptiness. He had told me that they were going to the farm to see Pop- he still didn’t know that she had passed away. I said that I would meet them there. Before embarking on the 45-minute drive out of Melbourne, I hopped into the shower. And I howled. I have never cried like I did that morning, before or since. Even though I knew it was going to happen, it still hurt like hell.

As I arrived at the farm, the front gate was shut. This was not a good sign… Mum and Dad had not yet arrived. Pop didn’t know we were coming either (he doesn’t wear his hearing aids and as a result, can’t hear the phone). So as I knocked on the door at 7:30 that Mother’s Day, I realised that I was going to have to tell Pop what had happened. He was (understandably) confused to see me standing there on his balcony, minus my parents and so early in the morning. I asked if Mum and Dad had called and he replied no. I then simply said ‘It’s about Nana’ and he knew. He asked if she was gone, I said yes and with a wave of relief leaving his body at not having to see the love of his life in pain any longer, he simply said ‘That’s good.’ We stood there hugging (we don’t normally hug but nothing about this Mother’s Day was proving to be normal) and then went inside where I made tea and toast for us and we discussed the different tablets he had to take each day.

When my parents finally arrived, Mum had to question me as to whether I had actually told him about Nana; neither of us were looking as distraught as perhaps she had expected us to. Over the next four days leading up to the funeral, I did everything in my power to make this whole ordeal as easy as possible for my mum. I took days off work, I made meals for my pop, I brewed pots of tea for the funeral man, I sorted through Nana’s photo collection and made a photo tribute with my younger brother. I kept her calm when the DVD we had made wouldn’t play on the screen during the trial run and knelt down next to my pop and held his hand when he finally allowed himself to cry during the funeral service.

After visiting my nana for the last time before she passed away, my mum and I spoke in the car park of the aged care home. Mum said that I reminded her so much of her own mother. That is the biggest and most treasured compliment she has ever given me. Whilst my nana was an adventurous, courageous, generous and caring woman, these traits most definitely have not skipped a generation- they have been passed down to me via my own mother. Happy Mother’s Day xx

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