Monday, September 19, 2011

saying goodbye to a good woman

If you don't like reading about death or dying don't read this post.  This post is a tribute to my mum who died a little over a month ago.  She died after lying in hospital unconscious for just over a week, after having a cerebral haemorrage.  Her life was hard, she was one of twelve children in a family that was far from comfortable, her mother died when she was 18, she helped look afer her younger sisters and brothers, she was attacked by a man with an axe on her 22nd birthday and sustained injuries so serious she had to learn to talk all over again.  But she went on to get married, and had me and my two older brothers, travelled overseas for the first time by herself in her 70s and generally had a full life full of love, joy and hardship until she died at 90 .

We  recently had a celebration of her life, where her remaining brothers and sisters gathered with our extended family of grandhcildren, great grandchildren and assorted family and friends to say goodbye.  We made speeches, drank champagne and danced the Pride of Erin.

Mum (wearing the hat) with some of her brothers and sisters
So as I was sitting in the hospital with Mum and watching every one of her grandchildren visit her and talk and share memories of her with each other and share memories of their times together, it made me think of the stuff that binds us together as family, as friends, as part of a community.

Mum with my grandchildren
And I thought that family is about those threads that connect us, that are made up of shared memories, of stories, of times of sadness and loss, times of frustration and sometimes anger, times of great joy and celebration.  I thought that the threads are created by love, by friendship,  by shared activites, by caring, or just by being a friendly face when you walk down the street.

Sometimes those threads hold us tightly and warmly, sometimes they feel like chains that we want to break free of, sometimes they fray a little bit and the connection is lost for a while, but what is important, is that the threads are always there, waiting for us to pick them up.  They are the memories that are woven into our lives. 

For me mum was the start of the thread, the one that gave me and Frank and Harold and Patrick life.  She was, for our family, for the grandchildren, the great grandchildren, the one that bound us together, that would wrap around us when we were sad or lost and that would be a bit looser when we needed to move out or on, that would wave up and down with us when we were celebrating and that would just lie quietly around when we were all okay.  

Mum's remaining brothers and sisters
The threads of Mum’s life brought people together to celebrate her life, whether that connection was as a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, a grandchild or great grandchild, a niece or nephew or a friend or carer.  And those threads extended out to those who were not with us for the celebration – her grandchildren, Emily, Simone and Rhowena, to the lovely Michelle who should still be with us but who is maybe now sitting with Mum and Norm, my dad, with Christine, with Patrick the child they lost and all Mum’s brothers and sisters who have gone before, Lil, Glen, Stan and Bell.

Maybe it's worthwhile to stop and refelct about the threads in your life, to think about the ones that you want to hold tightly and remember the ones that you may have let go of for a while. I know that wherever we go and whatever we do, the threads that connect us to the people who are still here and the ones who have gone, continue to weave themselves through our lives so that no-one is ever truly not with us, they live on in what we do, in how we think, they live on in our hearts and our memories and they help make us who we are…..


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your Mother's story, is was beautiful to read. My daughter and Grandson are progressing steadily but it has been a long road. I have been privileged to share some of the journey, kind regards, Jane.