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Mum 1980

Mum 1980

There are many ways of looking at anniversaries, but the first has to be the type of anniversary which is occupying your mind.  The best, of course, are the happy ones, the birthdays, weddings, births, graduations, when you met THE ONE, special holidays and holiday travels. In fact there can be so many highlights in our lives which can become anniversaries.  Strictly speaking an anniversary is defined thus:-

anniversary is a day that commemorates or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same day of the year as the initial event. For example, the first event is the initial occurrence or, if planned, the inaugural of the event. One year later would be the first anniversary of that event.

Today I am deep in remembrance of an anniversary which, in itself is not as happy as the others I mentioned. It hardly seems believable that today marks the fifth anniversary of my mothers passing. I’m beginning to wonder if time stands still at times, since I recall this anniversary as an event which happened only yesterday. It is however the first time I have publicly acknowledged it. My normal practise is to withdraw for silent communion with a lady I revered above all others. A lady who was not only my mother but my best friend, the person I would turn to first and foremost to share the joys and sadness which populated my life. We were as close as sisters and I loved that special bond. So close in so many ways.

She was stunning, breathtakingly beautiful, and to me, wise beyond anything I could have imagined. I hoped to emulate her example as I became older and have to trust I honour that. She was a small lady, barely 5′ tall, yet she had a presence which made her seem much taller, imposing is the word I would use. She had the most amazing deep auburn hair which shone like a molten coppery gold. I wished every day to have her hair, and those beautiful curls, rather than my straight and black brown hair. Still, my beautiful daughter has inherited those incredible auburn locks, despite the pain they caused her as a child, being called ” carrot top” or worse still “Red”.

Mum and Dad 1977

Mum and Dad 1977

My mother, Patricia, was petite in every way. On her death I inherited much of her jewellery.  Her fingers were so small I am unable to wear any of the rings, not even on my little finger!  That, for me at least, epitomised her, small  and petite but she had a strength of will which placed her amongst giants.

Unfortunately she was ill for many years. The day my son was born in 1982 she collapsed in Brisbane and shortly thereafter was told she had inoperable emphysema and chronic asthma. It was heartbreaking to receive such glorious news of her first grandchild and the sentence of a slow death at the same time.

It was her indomitable will which refused to allow her health to dominate her life until much later. She saw her only granddaughter born two years later in 1984. She often said they were the most precious treasures in her life, and she and Dad spoilt them as much as they could. As their only grandchildren they were spoilt, but not overly so, and they adored their grandparents in return.

It is ironic how the future turns out. The family was as prepared as you can be in these situations, but we were all shocked when Dad suddenly learned he was ill. Terminally ill. He  passed away in 1997 and left her bereft at his loss. We all were, since Dad had been Mum’s rock for so many years. Despite  knowing how strong-willed she was, her health deteriorating, I prepared myself for the worst.

It is a terrible thing for someone with an active and clever mind to be confined physically as she was, yet aware daily of what was happening to her. The frustration and humiliation, for her at least, were a constant raw wound to her pride. To me she always looked beautiful, but when her health stopped her from being able to care for herself the way she liked she withdrew more and more. Her enjoyment came from her grandchildren, her craftwork, which we shared and the long, daily conversations we had in between visits.

Graceful and always ready with a smile.

Graceful and always ready with a smile.

During the last six months of her life I was privileged  to care for her so that she could remain in her own home as long as possible. She had a horror of dying in hospital, alone without her family. This stemmed back to her own mother who did pass away in hospital shortly after Mum had left for the night.

We talked more than ever before, and as much as her failing lungs would allow. We had one last Christmas together in 2007 before she finally went into hospital, another hard decision in February 2008. The next two weeks are indelibly etched in my memory. The hospital called earlier each day, until I was being called at 4.30 am because she was calling for me. I thanked the “higher powers” that my children were teenagers who understood and willingly worked around this so that I could be there for their grandmother.

I tried to get her to eat, bathed her and got her into her fresh nightgown, and made sure she got the only medication they could give her to ease things – morphine!  How she hated that, but at least it enabled her to rest peacefully. It was heartbreaking watching my beautiful mother slowly lose that will to live, to finally simply want an end to the torment. Still she fought it every step of the way.

The Administrator for the hospice was kind and gentle, yet even so Mum didn’t want to go. She decided it meant it was the end and the day of the transfer has been carved in memory as one of the worst I can remember. It was hot and she hated the heat. It was crowded and noisy, which bothered her then. The warder wanted her to lie down which made her breathing worse, so that was another problem. The short transfer from the P.A.to Mt. Olivet seemed to take hours. Once there I bathed her and settled her in a fresh nightgown. She curled up like a child in her bed.

My brothers all came for a brief visit. I think I was the only one who realised we were saying goodbye. I wasn’t ready to leave , although it was much later than usual. Bombarded with urgings and cajoling from my three brothers I finally left, intending to have a quick shower to freshen up and return. As I walked through the door the phone was ringing.

My darling mother had passed away as I was driving home .

I knew how much she hated the sombreness of funerals so I arranged a white casket to be covered with her favourite flowers,  yellow roses and red carnations.

So, one stage of her life was finally over and, as a soul in a human body she is now enjoying the next stage if her life, pain-free, able to run and dance and move freely once more. I rejoice in her freedom again and know that missing her is a normal reaction, yet I am disappointed that believing as I do I still grieve. I grieve for myself, my loss and somehow that feels selfish.

I wish my mother an eternity of happiness and joy, free to dance and sing as she wanted. I believe that one day I will be able to talk to her again and I long for that day.

So today I will look through my albums and with a heart overflowing with love, remember a wonderful lady who was my mother, a woman who taught me so many things, and be eternally grateful that she is free and happy once more as I lay flowers on her physical resting place.

This is for you Mum. Thank you for making my life so wonderful.

image from MATTCLARK_01’s media

Ever your loving daughter, Susan xxxxxx

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bureau with drawers open

image courtesy of dollshousespastandpresent.com

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“When they talk of ghosts of the dead who wander in the night with things still undone in life, they approximate my subjective experience of this life.
Jack Henry Abbott

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As strange as it may sound, the first physical evidence of my other worldly visitor came one sunny day when I was at home alone.  I was studying for exams and it was very quiet – without my brothers around! I was sitting in the lounge, surrounded by my books when I thought I heard a noise upstairs. At first I put it down to the neighbour moving things around, but a check revealed the neighbours were out.  Ten minutes later there was another sound, louder and longer, the sound of furniture being pushed across the floor, coming from my parent bedroom.  You simply cannot mistake the sound of a heavy bureau being pushed across the floor.

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I stopped, listened intently and was about to begin studying again when I heard one of the drawers being opened. This particular bureau was quite old and the drawers had swollen,whch meant they squealed loudly when they were opened and closed. This had now become something I was feeling decidedly ‘not amused’ about. Not only were strange and unexplainable noises coming from directly overhead but there was no-one within cooee who was at home or expected home any time soon.  Then there was a flurry of drawers opening and closing in rapid succession!

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Books closed and held tightly I sat there staring towards the ceiling. I have no idea what I was expecting to see, thankfully nothing.  Quiet ensued. I was just beginning to persuade myself that I had imagined the entire episode when the cutlery in the kitchen bureau, directly behind me suddenly rattled as though someone was rifling through them. OH NO!   I was not impressed. I couldn’t decide if I was outflanked or trapped.  The only way out was through the kitchen, right where the kitchen bureau was. This was developing into a Laurel and Hardy comedy, only I wasn’t laughing.  Over heated imagination? No-one would ever convince me of that.

someone getting a fright

image courtesy of jigsawslair.blogspot.com

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Heartbeat returning to near normal and determined to remain inside to continue studying, I had just laid out my books again when I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps, footsteps laboriously coming down the stairs from our bedrooms. My eyes glued to the door into the lounge as I grabbed my books as quietly as I could. Why? I have no idea, my visitor knew I was there so who was I kidding?  The footsteps continued slowly as I counted the steps down.  At the bottom there was a pause. As the door suddenly creaked open I was rushing madly for the kitchen door. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden studying, alternately watching the upstairs windows and the kitchen door.  Whilst I saw him in my brothers window looking out I thankfully didn’t hear any further noises downstairs or near the door.

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That was my one and only scary episode. I still saw him in my parents room and the cold became even more intense from there. So much so that my mother remarked on it. They never mentioned the bureau being moved so I cannot explain it, except to say that’s exactly what it sounded like and the picture in my head bore that out.  I felt his cold ethereal presence in my room on occasion when I couldn’t sleep, or if I suddenly woke, and at those times I feigned sleep.  He didn’t make me feel comfortable enough to let him know I was awake.  It was the same feeling I got when I was walking around Port Arthur many years later, where I know unimaginable horrors occurred.

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The epitaph to the story. I learned that the previous owner had been left by his family and he had become terminally ill. He had committed suicide in my parents bedroom.  Apparently the house had remained empty for a long time, several people had bought it but hadn’t stayed long before reselling it.  The rest of my family didn’t feel or sense the unhappy fellow, although Mum made some unusual comments many years later about feeling uncomfortable in her room at night, on occasions, and how cold the room became.   If I had known then what I know now it may have been a different story.  As trite as it sounds I know I was fortunate not to ‘come face to face’ with my spirit at that time. He was upset and angry and I was ill prepared to handle that.

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Perhaps I made a small difference though. I heard from the new owners several years later that they were extremely happy in the house and there were no unusual happenings any longer.  ( A small town and everyone knows the history of  what had happened there). That being so I’m grateful I may have been of some small help to him. I know I prayed for him many times.  Perhaps that was why he was drawn to me.  I’ll never really know. It was an interesting time, exciting, a little frightening and  very enlightening.  If it happened again I would know how to handle the situation instead I made it into a comedy of errors which amused my family for a long time.

Patrick Swazye Ghost
image courtesy of  justpressplay.net

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One of my favourite films which shows Patrick Swayze about to go into the light after he had finished protecting his wife. Beautiful!

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