Tribute to my mother who passed away last week at 97


My earliest (ever) memory was telling mum that I didn’t want to die. I was scared. She comforted me.

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My parents wedding day in 1942.

The thing I remember best was mum’s perseverance in everything. She never gave up. She played tennis and ping-pong with the same determination. I actually recall the final point in a mixed doubles tennis tournament when she and a man called Paul Garnet won the title (I was probably 10 or 12 years old). I was very proud of her.

In our family car, mum conveyed me and my buddies to play football every Saturday when I was in high school. She never missed.

While making my decision in 1967 to go back to graduate school to do a Ph.D., I asked my parents what they thought. My dad quoted from the Bible: “Too much study weakens the flesh.” My mum simply said, “Go for it.” She had always strongly encouraged my education – starting from primary school.

I helped introduce my mother to Jesus in about 1969. She was unsure at first but one day shortly afterward she said, “Now I believe.”

I left Australia for the USA in 1972. I told mum I’d come back to live after four or five years. It never happened. But mum came and visited me in the USA. I took her to Chisholms, the country and western dancehall in Tulsa. We danced together and she picked it up quickly. For years after, folks would come up and ask me how my mom was – they remembered her from Chisholms!

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Celebrating two birthdays in August 1997. Mum was 75, Dad was 80. Mum and dad had been married 55 years.

After three years away, I flew back to Australia in mid August of 2019. It was winter and especially cold. I took mum on a roadtrip to Laura where I bought her some bath soap and a squeeze bottle of hand-lotion. I had to laugh when she put the lotion on and rubbed her hands together then grabbed a tissue and wiped her hands!

We had lunch at Stone Hut, where they make the best Cornish pasties in the world. After lunch, I asked mum if she wanted to walk into the aviary at the back of the restaurant.

“I’m not sure about that,” she said.

“C’mon mum, I think it will be fun.” I took her arm and walked her in there amongst a marvelous selection of colorful parrots.

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Immediately mum was approached by this galah, a pretty gray bird with a pink breast.

Mum said to the bird, “Hold it buddy, don’t you get too close.”

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We looked around for a while marveling at the variety of Aussie parrots. As mum turned to leave the aviary, the galah saw his chance.

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Mum wasn’t too happy when the galah tried to hitch a ride out of the aviary. She tried to push him off but he skipped over to the other shoulder. I couldn’t help but laugh. In the end, I had to brush him off.

In my last day with mum, I took her to a beach called Port Broughton that was my parent’s favorite. She had always loved the ocean. One time years ago I had taken her snorkeling out of Miami, Florida. After flippering around for a bit, I had looked up and couldn’t find mum. I had panicked until I saw her about 50 yards away from the boat and totally absorbed with the underwater life and scenery.

Mum talked on the drive all the way to Port Broughton and much of the way back. She was quite observant. As we passed by green fields of wheat and beans, she kept saying, “My, the country looks good.”

At the end of the day I walked her back to her room, made her comfortable in the chair, and put her new slippers on. She seemed relaxed and at peace with the world.

I said, “Mum, we had a good day.” She leaned back in the chair and smiled, “It was a wonderful day.” She had seemed interested and pleased with everything we did. I hugged and kissed her and walked away with tears sliding down my cheeks.

About two weeks later, mum died. I had not been back to Australia for three years. So the timing was curious. But I was very glad to be able to share these brief but precious times with her.

Mary Ann from the USA was like a daughter to mum – a daughter she had never had. Whenever I called mum from the USA, her first question was, “How is Mary Ann doing?” Despite dementia of the past year, mum always remembered Mary Ann.

Visits by mum’s nine grand-kids were always favorite times, especially in the last few years when grand-babies came along too.

The Belalie Lodge nursing home in Jamestown made a huge effort to keep mum comfortable, particularly Jenny Hagar, a friend of the family.

My two brothers, Clive and Neil, and their wives, Sarena and Lyn, did everything they could to support mum at home before dementia started, and afterward at the nursing home. Hours and hours of unselfish visits and invites to dinner, and roadtrips — service and love that I could only observe from a few thousand miles away. Not to mention having to deal with mum’s estate and the moving and dispersal of mum’s belongings from her house. And finally, all the funeral arrangements. You folks just kept on giving and loving.

On behalf of mum, who carried her Christian faith to the end, may God bless you all.
PS: I write blogs about a curious mix of topics: Science and Energy, and Health and Hiking, and Inspiration and Hope. Something for everyone!
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The Gray Nomad ….. There is a time to laugh and a time to cry.
I stand between the years.
The light of my presence is flung across the year to come – the radiance of the sun of righteousness.
Backward, over the past year, is my shadow thrown, hiding trouble and sorrow and disappointment.

[From God Calling dated 1 January 2000 – one of my mother’s favorites].

18 comments on “Tribute to my mother who passed away last week at 97”

  1. Ric Shields says:

    Thank you, Ian, for this touching tribute to your mum. She sounds like a wonderful lady, one who any one of us would have been able to love having in our lives.

  2. Joe Ford says:

    What a blessing to have a lively and engaged mother for so long. God is GOOD!

  3. John Cameron says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories of you mum. I am so glad you visited her last month and had such a sweet time with her. I know her passing must be painful for you. Everyone feels a void in their life when their mother passes, but fond memories can give some comfort.

  4. Lianne Soh says:

    So sorry Ian to hear of your mother’s passing and yet hallelujah into glory! Makes me reflect on my personal times with my 94 year old Dad last Friday. Just so good to hear and see him talk. It doesn’t matter the subject but just the company says it all.

  5. Elizabeth Quailey says:

    Many many fond memories Ian, in Sydney ,Jamestown and especially Dalmeny. My mum and your mum as you know, continued their friendship for 89 yrs til mum passed on, they shared many experiences, christened together, confirmed together, school, church and tennis. They wrote regularly after your mum married and both comforted each other in good and sad times — a most remarkable loving friendship. My love and sympathy to you and all the Palmer Family. And Aunty Alison passed on mum’s Birthday — it was a truly wonderful friendship.

  6. betsysiwula says:

    Wow, what a blessed life she had Ian–97 good years! Most importantly she knew how much you loved her unto her last breath. Thank you for sharing your love and memories of her.
    What an angel you have now on your shoulder… take good care of yourself as this loss is never easy. God bless you!

  7. Roy Long says:

    Thanks for the wonderful story, Ian. May God bless you and yours and keep you all wrapped in these sweet memories.

  8. Corrine Gonzales says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mum. You are a wonderful man. I’m blessed to have you as a friend!

  9. Carol Hill says:

    Thank you for sharing your Mum with me. I loved seeing the pictures and I could just picture you, with your loving spirit and gentle manner, spending time with her. I know she loved being with you. She sounds like such a loving and encouraging person. I wish you God’s comfort in her passing.

  10. Sheryl Peak says:

    Hi Ian and so sorry to learn of your mum’s parting. You were so fortunate to share those fun times together. What a blessing she was to your family. Prayers to you ~ Sheryl

  11. Karen Larre says:

    Really beautiful sharing, Ian. I feel like I got to know her a bit from this (and your family). Thank you! And many blessings to you all!

  12. Joshua says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, Ian. I’m happy to hear you got to spend some special moments with her just before God called her name.

  13. DonM says:

    “Mothers the choice of Heaven.” And you illustrated this very well with these accounts of your loving and dedicated mother. Thank you for inviting me into the personal life of you and your mother. This was moving and uplifting for me, as I remembered my special relationship with my wonderful mother, who left this earthly life in September 1988. I still feel, and appreciate, her love and good influence in my life.

  14. Patricia says:

    Oh Mr Ian, I am so sorry for your loss.
    God’s timing was just perfect to go to see your mum for the last time. What a privilege to be able to say goodbye to your mum for a little while. Oh course she is just moving to her heavenly home. You are blessed my friend to have your mother all those years.

    Your parents picture – what a good-looking couple. Thank you for sharing these personal moments with your mum. Praying for God’s peace and comfort to be upon you and your family.

  15. Patti says:

    What a handsome couple your parents were, Ian, and such a loving tribute to your “Mum”! She sounds like a lovely, strong, focused & delightful woman who raised a great son! Thank You for sharing!

  16. Donna Cowan says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Ian. She obviously had a life well lived.

  17. Bob Moulton says:

    Ian, we travelled to Sevenhill in the Clare Valley for lunch, Skillogalie for a bottle of wine and Balaklava to see two of my beautiful young grandchildren who had not previously met you, but loved you immediately. I had spoken to them of your wisdom, knowledge and kindness and our long friendship that goes back to our football-playing days in the 1960’s.
    During our time together on that August day, you spoke about your Mum on a number of occasions and how you read her a chapter from your book – I think it was Hiking towards Heaven – and your love for her was just so obvious to me. The loss of your Mum leaves a gap in your life but you can rejoice that she is now with her Redeemer.

  18. Leith Cooper says:

    Both Averil and I remarked that your mother’s funeral was a fantastic celebration of her life. Congratulations to all of the Palmer family for their contributions. No doubt you have received Ken’s videoing. She was a remarkable lady whom I had the utmost respect for from the age of 6. One comment I cherish, was that she told me at my father’s funeral, that she appreciated he making her feel so welcome when she arrived in the Jamestown community, I presume in 1945 or 1946. I am glad that you were able to spend some time with her, just prior to her death. Those photos with the galah are superb.


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