My earliest (ever) memory was telling mum that I didn’t want to die. I was scared. She comforted me.
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!
THE LAST DAYS.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
A DAY AT THE BEACH
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.
THANK YOU TO OTHERS
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!
If you would like to receive my regular blogs (about two each month) or be able to access this information in the future, enter your email address where it says SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG at top right (its free and your email is totally protected). And if you decide later not to receive these blogs, you can unsubscribe with one easy click.
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].