It’s ten years today since my mum passed away. I still miss her every day.
The creaking sound of her rickety rattan chair comforts Nina as she sinks down into the seat. Every afternoon she enjoys sitting and admiring her garden.
Familiar sounds echo as she breathes in the earthy pleasures of rich soil and damp leaves. A cool breeze blows gently on her skin. Sitting and watching she feels alive, in harmony with nature.
Nina’s garden is her haven, a place of renewal where she nourishes her soul. Silently she thanks each plant and ornament for bringing her joy, they are valued members of her extended family.
Nina lives alone in a modest old timber house. A wooden nameplate bearing the name Akiko,meaning Iris; light and bright, hangs at the cottage entrance.
Her life is quiet and sometimes lonely. Most days she gardens and preens her tiny house. She does this for her own satisfaction and because she is grateful for everything she has.
As she sits looking at the garden her gaze is drawn to her flourishing Suma bush. She involuntarily gasps at its radiance. An affectionate loving smile spreads across her face. This plant tells her story.
As a young woman Nina spent her lunch breaks in the tranquil Jenku Gardens. This peaceful daily experience inspired her to create her own garden. She knew little about gardening but was eager to learn.
Nina planted a Suma bush near her front entrance so she could admire its soft beauty and smell its subtle fragrance each time she came in and out of her house.
Despite meticulous care and constant love her Suma failed to thrive. The foliage thinned and the vibrant green leaves faded to an insipid yellow.
Nina felt a deep sense of failure and loss. It broke her heart to see her Suma in such a bad state. Reluctantly she moved the plant to the back garden.
Weeks later she noticed new green shoots sprouting on the Suma’s spindly stem. Nina’s heart filled with thanks knowing her plant was showing signs of regeneration.
It dawned on her that this species survives better in the shade. She realised her Suma could not flourish where she’d wanted it to grow no matter how much care she lavished on the plant.
This lesson taught her to respect the inherent needs of each species. Over years her garden grew and matured into a place of natural beauty with thriving plant and bird life coexisting within her garden sanctuary.
Drawing her attention back to today a Pipi bird swoops under the Suma plant searching for food in the rich soil. Nina smiles and thanks every element of nature for keeping her company her whole life.
She feels tired and closes her eyes letting her head nod forward. She feels like she is floating.
Nina hears her mother’s voice. She must be dreaming. Such a lovely sweet sound.
Their arms instinctively embrace in a warm hug. Neither wanting to let go.
Nina’s tears flow freely as she recalls all the times she’d felt lonely and longed to talk things over with her mother.
“Take my hand Nina, it’s your time to rest with me.”
Months after her death Nina’s family sold Akiko cottage for a high price to a land developer. It took less than a day to bulldoze the house and garden leaving an empty block prime for multi story town houses.
Nina’s granddaughter Mai stands motionless looking at the barren land where her grandmother’s cottage and garden once were. She feels like she has been punched hard in the stomach sucking her breath away.
Mai closes her eyes and imagines all the times she sat chatting with her grandmother while looking at her precious garden.
Mai releases a primal scream and falls to her knees.
“They can destroy everything you created Grandmother but they can never destroy how loved and valued you made me feel.”
It is about this time every year when things start to feel different. No matter how hard I try to pretend that it’s just another day, it never is.
For most people September signals springtime and warmer weather to enjoy happy times. For me September is laced with sorrow, a reminder that another year without my lovely mother has gone by.
I’ve stumbled through the predictable stages of grief during the past seven years. My heart remains laden with sadness and regret. This tells me I’m yet to reach the acceptance stage.
What I miss the most is chatting with my mum. We talked about everything and would solve the problems of the world together. I always felt better after talking things over with mum. She made everything seem clearer and helped me find solutions to my dilemmas.
As I can’t talk to her now I’ve decided to write mum a letter in the hope it helps me to admit my fears, release my regrets and find peace in my life.
23 September 2013
My darling Mum
No one could have ever told me how much pain I would feel at losing you from my life.
It was so sudden. We spent the day together enjoying life. That night you were lying in a hospital bed frail and broken, looking nothing like my beautiful mum.
Your accident devastated Dad. He rapidly diminished with fear of losing his soul mate. When prompted for a decision about maintaining life support Dad respected your instruction and sadly agreed to have it switched off.
I wanted to scream NNNOOOOOOOOO but remained silent. I wish I’d been brave enough to say I wasn’t ready to let you go . It would have prolonged the inevitable but selfishly I needed more time. For this I am sorry.
After the medical staff disconnected the machines I wanted to stay by your side until the end, but after a while Dad wanted you left alone. I respected his decision and this is my biggest regret. Mum I walked away and left you alone to die. I abandoned you. For this I am sorry.
My memory of your funeral is a blur of tears and pain. The image of your coffin occupies my mind and terrifies me in the darkest hours of the night when I lie awake.
After you died I regularly visited your grave hoping to feel your presence. I never have. I always feel cold emptiness invade my body. I don’t go there much anymore. For this I am sorry.
My long-term memories of you are joyful. Thank you for giving me life and always making me feel the most special person in the world.
You were the glue that held our family together and since you’ve gone our sibling relationships have disintegrated. For this I am sorry.
Lots of lovely things have happened in our lives since you’ve gone, I wish you could have shared them with us. Even though I can’t feel your presence I like to think you’ve been there in spirit.
The truth is I feel like you have abandoned me. I believe your spirit exists but I can’t feel it and not knowing why is the worst feeling.
Please come to me in a dream, land on me as a butterfly or blow in my ear. I need to know you forgive me and still love me so that I can find peace and let you go.
Mum, I’m scared that as more years pass I won’t remember when you were alive.
Your loving daughter
My heart kept telling me everything would be okay as I struggled to stay strong throughout many years of personal adversity.
My extended family remained silent but I felt their judgment and heard their cruel whispers about my troubled relationship with my son.
I withstood this implied criticism for ten years until they lost interest and pretended we no longer existed.
Over the years I had sporadic contact with my son but it was usually strained and traumatic for both of us.
Only my husband knew the extent of my anguish, only he was supportive. We both believed one day my son would find his inner strength and conquer his problems that steered him away.
We always hoped he would want us back in his life one day, but knew he had to figure out how to do this in his own way and in his own time. He had to learn to navigate his way back over a very rocky road.
My heart was right.
It started with a couple of upbeat phone calls.
Then one day it was a warm heartfelt hug.
A genuine smile.
And the latest puzzle piece, a picture of his childhood teddy bear with a message saying that Teddy reminds him of so many happy memories.
That old teddy bear and my son Chris have been through a lot together.
I am so happy they have found the path that is leading them back home.
Today I am especially grateful for the privilege of nurturing three precious children who have enriched my life since their birth and hopefully will continue to share their love and lives with me for many more years to come.
Just like the Queen gives a message to her people each Christmas, I would like to give a message to my special three offspring today on mother’s day 2013.
Enjoy and celebrate the simple pleasures that life can bring.
It seems like everyone these days is preoccupied with keeping up and getting ahead while spending less time enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Children used to be happy with small birthday gifts and having a few friends over to their house for a party to share fairy bread, balloons and play pass the parcel.
The school dance used to be held in the gym hall with girls and boys wearing clothes they already owned.
Weddings were quaint ceremonies shared with family and close friends enjoying a meal and a dance to wish the bride and groom a happy life together. Gifts used to include mixing bowls not pledges of money.
Pregnancies and births were private times shared between the new parents and close friends and family.
Giving mum a homemade card, a gift from the school mother’s day stall (that she probably donated) and a lovingly prepared breakfast in bed surprise constituted the joyous celebrations on mother’s day.
At the risk of being old fashioned I urge everyone to strip their lives back from modern ways by taking a break from checking Facebook notifications, sending/receiving multiple text messages or spending money on unnecessary items just to impress others.
I would like everyone to gain more meaning out of what they do and enjoy the pleasures of the simple things in life.
My fondest memories of motherhood include seeing my children play with a mismatched group of toys and creating personalities, voices and adventures for them.
It was a lot like Toy Story………..maybe I should have written that down 20 years ago.
Maybe that was why the movie was such a success, we all love the thought of living in a time when life was more fun and less cluttered.
It doesn’t get any easier as the years go by.
As the 4th of May approached for the seventh time since I lost my mum Joani I felt a familiar emptiness that bubbles to the surface every year on her birthday reminding me how much I lost when my mum passed away.
I knew my mum was ready to leave this earth but selfishly I wanted her to stay around for me.
Joani accepted her fate when she died, she told me many times she didn’t want to be dependent on others like her own mother had relied on her. She said she wouldn’t place that burden on me.
Even though my mum was okay about it, I’m not okay with it.
I feel cheated by time.
Leaving home to marry at a young age meant I didn’t see my mum often and life in my 20s and 30s disappeared in a whirlwind of raising a family and establishing a career. My mum was always a part of my busy life but I didn’t appreciate that our time was limited.
All too soon I hit my 40s and ironically decided to cut back on my working hours the year my mum died.
I wish I could have some of that time back to sit and talk to my mum who was always there for me.
I wish I could hold her hand and feel her loving arms around me.
I wish we had more time together.
Even though my mother passed away six years ago she lives eternally in my thoughts. She is my mentor who is guiding me to become a more complete human being.
There are moments when I vividly recall things my mother said that I was dismissive of when I was a younger woman. I now understand she was sowing seeds in my mind giving me directions to find self-belief when I was ready to find it.
Along with Oprah she believed in showing gratitude and she always found good in people even when they betrayed her.
During my life I have taken too many things for granted. Like other bloggers I wish to correct past wrongs and start publicly sharing the things I am grateful for.
My mum loved me unconditionally and truly believed in my potential to become a decent and valuable human being.
For this I am eternally grateful.
lyrics by Celine Dion
Because You Loved Me”
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I’ll be forever thankful baby
You’re the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You’re the one who saw me through it all
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me