If you think of all the beautiful things in life like a rose bud, the sparkling ocean on a warm day, a newborn baby sleeping or a glowing pink sunset, you will see my Mom. She was my best friend, confidante, nurturer, biggest supporter and the person responsible for who I am today and for a lot of the reason I am writing this blog to help others.
My beautiful Mom with my nephew Alexander!
Mom had breast cancer when she was forty-five, I was still a teenager and thought I was indestructible, that my mother would always be around. But as the years passed and I got older and had a daughter of my own I began to dread that her cancer would come back.
When I was pregnant with Savannah, Mom and Dad put their life on hold and moved to Sydney to be with me throughout my growing pregnancy and birth of our first child Savannah. They stayed for fourteen months. Looking back, those days were filled with love and time, something money can't buy! Time to sit with Mom and just chat over cups of tea....and champagne.:) I felt privileged to watch her shower Savannah with kisses, raspberries, tickles and love. Savannah had her second name, Beverley, and they seemed to share a bond, one which I never thought would extend to both of them dying slowly at the same time before my eyes.
As I wrote in my sister's story, after Mom and Dad left us they moved to my sister Tarnia's small country town to help her with her instantly doubled brood after Tarnia had twin girls. It was only a few short months later that Tarnia was killed and Mom and Dad' became not only grandparents, but surrogate mom's to my sister's four children. For a long time after Tarnia died, my mother's spirit disappeared. Tarnia's death brought sadness and grief into her world and I felt helpless that I couldn't erase her pain as she had for me over the years.
Mom never complained however, over time she began to look at the positives in Tarnia's death, how she had loved her and had her for thirty-nine years and how through the children Tarnia would always live on. She set such an example and gave me strength through the grace she showed while suffering that without knowing it, she would help me survive my greatest loss, the death of my first born daughter too!
Around this time, Peter was given an opportunity to work in the USA, so we sold our home in Sydney, moved to Tarnia's tiny town to help Mom and Dad before our move to Los Angeles. It was then that Mom's cancer returned, this time in her ovaries, within a year of Tarnia's death! I lived in denial of her dying for a long time. I couldn't accept the fact that one day soon I wouldn't be able to pick up the phone and call her or feel her arms around me in a big bear hug.
And then Savannah was diagnosed, out of the blue with her fatal illness, it was a shock to everyone, no-one more than Mom, who's heart seemed to break all over again. There was a renewed sadness in her face and we shared many talks on surviving Savannah's death. Mom set a foundation of steel in my mind that I WOULD cope and and love Savannah and do whatever was in my power to make her last months special, to focus on her 'living' instead of her 'dying'. She also provided me with a knee to curl up on and sob and warm all encompassing hugs where I felt safe and believed and could pretend everything would be okay.
Mom battled her cancer with dignity and a fierce passion to live, she taught me to appreciate the simple things like a sun drenched morning where the birds were singing and there was dew on her roses. She taught me a positive outlook can have a tremendous impact on how you face each day, even if it is with more pain.
I helped nurse her in the months leading up to her death. Savannah, Dempsey and me would visit, squash into her bed beside her and enjoy her encouraging thoughts and laughter. Savannah seemed to be in sync with her Nannie, fading away into a little girl that resembled more of a rag doll than my energetic toddler from just a few months before. Those days were tough, like an out of control freight train...not just for me but for my nephews and nieces, brother and father who loved and needed Mom as much as I did and do.
Mom died on a cool Spring night in November, and in her typical style, did it her way with elegance and on her own. I'd only left her side for ten minutes to nurse Dempsey to sleep when I received my third phone call....it was Dad, telling me Mom had gone!
As I said my final goodbyes to her, I dabbed her Youth Dew perfume on her neck and lay down beside her, breathing her essence in, and just for a second, it seemed like she was still with me. The last memory I have of my adored Mom is of her lying peacefully with her hands clasped across her chest. She was always so proud of her hands!
But this isn't where my Mom's story ends, she will always live on through me and through the wisdom and compassion she instilled inside me. When I experience a gorgeous sunny day now I think of her and imagine her sitting outside on her favorite cane chair and I think "Mom would love this day!"
And my dear adored Dad, who misses Mom so much too, now has sunshine in his blue cup. You see two years ago he met a wonderful lady in her seventies, Brenda, who was also a widower. Last year we were blessed to have a wedding in the family, one where the average age of the guests was seventy! The new love and passion for life my Dad has discovered through Brenda, our 'new' mom, proves to me again that life goes on and can be extraordinary again, but then that's another story...........
Dad and Brenda's wedding with Demps, and my sister's twins as flower girls!
Note; one of the things that helps me is to think of five things I am grateful for every night before I go to sleep, you can try this, or write them down in a beautiful journal you can start......its a way that's helped me to appreciate the little things in life that are now big things that help put sunshine in my blue cup! :)