Tuesday, May 30, 2006

15 years

G'day all!

The second Elfine is nearly done! Hooray! In time for the end of the green project spectrum month. Photos tomorrow or Thursday, if I remember to take the socks into town and can find a spot to get a good shot of them. Plus I have a great project spectrum project to show you.

Nutmeg is on my lap and demanding intensive patting - very hard to type when the cat puts her head under your hand... Plus I've put a muscle or two in my back into spasm, so it is hard to sit down at present.... (yes I saw the physio tonight and we did work on the spasming back not my elbow - hooray!)

I've started working on something for Nathan - a special request actually. No details yet - let's see if it works first.

But today is all about this woman, seen here on her wedding day some 50-odd years ago.


15 years ago, at this time, I was wandering around with a feeling of numbness and grief and relief. After a second battle with cancer, my mum had finally breathed her last. We didn't have to watch her grow old and infirm over the years - that happened in the space of months. It was sorta funny cos Mum was meant to outlast the Old Man, but he outlasted her by 14 years, despite being 13 years older than she was. We knew what had to happen, what was inevitable, and we were so ready for it when it finally came. Doesn't make it any better even after all these years, but when you see someone struggling so hard and in so much pain - well you wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy or on a dog (at least you can put a dog down) - and death becomes a blessing.

My mother was born to a couple who were quite quite poor. Mum only had one doll when she was young, which probably explains why I had so many. She had to leave school when she was 14 to help support her parents and her younger sister. She was just as much raised by her Auntie May, who was a woman who could do any craft she turned her hands to. So she was clever (an A student until Pop started putting pressure on her to leave school) and capable with her hands - Granma was not crafty but her sister May was, and Mum took after May (and in turn Mum's daughters inherited that crafty ability).

She worked as a book keeper for a firm where the old man who ran it thought Mum was a bit of All Right. We had a picture somewhere of a photo taken of the office staff, and Mum is perched on the old bloke's knee, just like a kid on Santa's knee at Christmas.

Somehwere along the line, she met my father. He was a bit of a rascal, with his gallon jar of grog under his arm. He wrote love letters to her - we found two of them after Father died. Mum used to sing an old song, which she related to her and her beau:
"Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde,
and the band played on!
He'd glide cross the floor with the girl he adored
and the band played on!
But his brain was so loaded he nearly exploded
The poor girl would shake with alarm
He married the girl with the strawberry curls
and the band played on!"

They married and children inevitably followed. Mum also learned to drive, which I think was much more fun to her than babies (three of us inherited that love of driving too). Whilst learning to drive, she lost control of the car and managed to shoot off backwards and park the car between the park bench and a tree. Noone was hurt, but Mum insisted that the car was not steering as it should've, and when my father (a panel beater by trade with a lot of mechanical experience) looked at the car, he was surprised she had managed to steer it at all as one of the steering rods was completely broken off. Mum wasn't dissuaded from driving. Cars were freedom to her, though it was another 20 something years until she had her own car.

Mum loved cats. We always had at least one cat, though the Old Man didn't like them much cos he grew up on a farm where the cats were half feral and mostly stinking toms. Over the years I can remember a string of cats, the later ones being cats from rescue organisations (with consequent turnover problems - we had adult cats with various health problems). We didn't ever have a dog. When my brother was very very young, Mum would get up every three hours to feed her beloved cat through an eyedropper after he shredded his mouth on some bamboo, but my then infant brother was left to sleep through the night (which he quickly settled down to do!!!).

Mum was good at organising things. She helped with any of the women's auxillary things at the schools we went to. She organised my father whilst he was secretary and grand secretary of the local lodge. She helped run the school fetes. She liked making things and getting things to work well. I never lacked a costume for any fancy dress days - there is a picture of me aged about 7 or 8 with a prize winning Easter hat made out of stuffed chocolate easter egg wrappers on my head. I can assure you I did not make the hat, though I may well have helped smooth out the wrappers before they were put around fake eggs. It was obvious for her to take over running the high school canteen when I was late in primary school or starting high school, and the canteen sold good food and always made a profit even after allowing for Mum's wage. It gave her a great social outlet - I think Mum was bored at home by herself. Money was always tight but the extra wage helped Mum's budget a lot.

All through the years my father's health was a bit dodgy - when his ticker wasn't playing up, his body was from years of heavy labour as a panel beater (even though he was the boss, he worked alongside his boys). Mum kept him going. She was not a born nurse, but she had to look after me a lot too cos I was a weak child who got every bug that went by and then got bronchial asthma just to top it off. (Despite many weeks off school every school year, I never lagged in my studies - Mum made sure I was sent work and I was bright and absorbed knowledge like a sponge absorbs water.)

Then suddenly just when I had started to find my feet in my second year of uni and had my first boyfriend (yeah, late developer), it was Mum's turn to be crook. Bowel cancer. The area was resected but she wouldn't do the testing to make sure it hadn't come back. For three years she seemed healthy. Then she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, then the bowel cancer came back and it was all downhill from there. 10 months, during which Mum's sister died of breast cancer. I was doing honours at Mum's insistence. Such a hard hard year.

So it is 15 years on, and most days I try to be mindful of my mother's legacy. I have clever hands, and a clever brain, and I have to make use of both of those. Some days it is hard. Some days I wish she was here to kick me in the pants and tell me to get on with it, or to praise something I had done. I would not get a hug or a kiss or anything like that - we have never been a touchy feely family, but there are other ways of showing love.

So Mum, today is for you. I am going to try to fix up a paper to send in for a conference, see if I can win a trip to it. You'd be pleased with it cos it is a clever paper I think, and is something you never got a chance to do.

anon!

9 comments:

  1. Think of all the good memmories,the special things passed onto you and she will always be with you.
    Thanks for sharing that memory with us.........

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  2. Oh, Lynne, what a wonderful tribute to your mom! Thank you for sharing.

    *hug*

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  3. What a lady! And she passed a lot of that on to you too, it's evident.

    I lost my own mother 13 years ago last week, after a brief but vicious bout with cancer as well. Seldom does a day pass when I don't miss her, but I think God for the wonderful mother, example, and creative human being she was, and hope that I can do as well with my own children and in my accomplishments.

    Thank you for sharing...

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  4. An incredible story - she was clearly a wonderful woman and mother! Time helps, but is never quite enough eh? She'd be so proud of you!

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  5. Brilliant tribute, thanks for sharing.

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  6. That is so beautiful, thankyou for sharing and making us think of our own mothers.

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  7. i lost my dad 5 years ago on june 4th, i understand. i miss the old codger myself, as do my kids. and he's where i got my ingenuity, and craftiness. he did woodworking (built a bedroom and bathroom from the ground up for my mother, so she wouldn't have to climb stairs any more (i think he was 52 & she was 50 at the time). he was a farmer. i still have a knitting board he made for me when i was 10, hwen i brought home a paper i'd found about it, and built it from the description alone. i miss him

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  8. Lynne, what a lovely tribute to your mom. I lost my mother to a protracted battle with cancer as well, it will have been 10 years in december. She loved to drive too.

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  9. Lynne, that was such a beautiful post. Your mum sounded really special.

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