Two weeks ago my Mum died.
It’s been quite a journey, since then, sorting out emotions, sorting out practicalities, sorting out her things.
Dad is with us, living downstairs in their part of the house. Having him close has been great. He and I have been doing quite a bit together, as well as remembering, talking, sharing how we feel each day.
Two weeks of sleepless nights, getting better. Two weeks of not wanting to eat, getting better. Two weeks of endless thinking about Mum, easing now. Two weeks of crying at odd times – even on a client one day – getting better.
I think we’re “about normal” and overall, doing OK. There’s a lot of healing going on. Even though it’s terribly sad, it’s a really special time that I’ve been gifted.
I’m sure I’ll come back to the gifts of this time in another post. In the meantime, I want to share with you the words I said at her funeral:
I could tell you a million stories about Mum. How much fun we had, how being her daughter wasn’t always easy, how inspiring, remarkable and amazing she was. But all of you who knew her, know those things already, and you have your own stories.
We are very lucky to have had Mum in our lives. Today, I want to share with you some of the things that she left me with.
Optimism. Even when things were really tough, she always knew that we’d come out the other side and that there’s always something positive to be found in an experience.
Determination. When we really want something, we have to stick to it, hang in there and keep going.
Strength. As long as we keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, we’ll get there.
Fun. Mum was always up for a good time and often led the way. She would put everything into throwing a great party, organising an amazing trip, having a wonderful experience. Mum welcomed everyone into her house and her life. She loved having people around.
Self-reliance. Mum spent a lot of her life living in isolated places. She was happy spending time on her own and was always doing something. She sewed, painted, cooked, made things. decorated things, read books, traced her genealogy, the list goes on, and on and on. Mum always had several projects going on at once – a true multi-tasker.
Creativity. Mum could always find a way to do something and do it well. Some of her finest creations were the result of a big mistake! Present her with any challenge and she’d find a way to overcome it.
Family. Family was really important to Mum. We are lucky enough to live with Mum and Dad so my kids have grown up with her as a constant in their lives. She was very conscious of wanting to give them great memories.
I was living in England when Khika was born and Mum wanted to be a presence in her life, even if she couldn’t be with us. She didn’t buy toys. She made each of the children beautiful things that they could keep – quilts, wall hangings, towel sets, and both Khika and Talia had beautiful dresses made for them.
After we moved back to Sydney and were living with Mum and Dad, Mum was always part of their lives. She came to gymnastics, dance and swimming classes. As they got older she went to grandparents’ days at school, the end of year concerts, the school musicals – she’ll have lost count of the number of events she went to.
Talia considered Mum and Dad’s place her own and would crawl up the stairs of our old house to spend time with MatMat, making things, sewing, playing games or watching TV. More recently, Mum advised her with textiles’ projects, giving her clever tips and tricks that Talia delighted in teaching her teacher! Just last week, Talia took a felting project into hospital to show Mum. Thankfully, it received Mum’s seal of approval!
Mum also instigated many traditions in our house. Every birthday, the kids received a Christmas decoration, so that when they grow up and have their own trees, they’ll have decorations from her. Every birthday we had a cryptic treasure hunt. Mum would work out the clues and Dad had to hide the presents. When she was more mobile, the last present was always tucked into a card she had made – usually tickets to see a special show with her and Dad.
She made Dad hide Easter eggs all over the house and garden so the kids would have to search for them.
Mum would often have us downstairs to dinner and there was always an elaborate menu, with special drinks. Proper table manners were insisted on.
When the girls first wanted to wear high heels, she made sure that they learned how to walk properly in them before going out in public. When they wore makeup, it had to be properly applied and suitable for their age.
Any new clothes were always shown off to her in a fashion parade, even Troy’s, before the rest of the world was allowed to see them.
Mum loved us all. She loved listening to the girls singing. She encouraged Troy’s cooking and learning, and liked watching him help Dad in the garden. She loved to hear about our day and what we were all up to. She and I talked about all sorts of things. On the weekends we’d have our Board Meeting – Mum, Dad, Shay and I would have a coffee and catch up on the week.
We’re going to miss you Mum, so much. But we’ll just have to get on with it, being strong, determined and self-reliant as a family. It wont be easy, but because of your legacy, we will find ways to have fun, remain optimistic and embrace life without you.
See you later Mum.