Last Friday was the first anniversary of my mother’s death. My siblings, dad and I spent the evening celebrating her life the best way we could, by holding a barbeque and spending the evening as a family; this was one of her greatest pleasures.
The evening was great, the only sad part was watching a video we put together of pieces of her life, seeing her so vibrant and yet knowing that we will never again see her alive this side of heaven.
My mom lived a full life, a legacy that I am determined to not only live by but pass on to my children. She understood the idiom 'make hay while the sun shines'.
Even in her illness she did not allow herself to be defined by the disease and encouraged us to keep living and have a good time. I remember two weeks before she died, I was really down and did not feel like going to work. I wanted to just sit with her.
“Go teach Carole,” she told me. “Life must go on.” Her biggest concern was that we do not neglect dad and that we would strive to make memories for our children.
Once my cousin named Judy came to visit and asked her what was the one thing she would want to give us as advice. My mom looking straight into her eyes said, “Recognise you have your children for such a short time, in your pursuit for material things, make time to create special memories, in the end that is all that counts.” How true.
My mom, a banker her whole career life, made time for us; even when it was inconvenient to do so. She woke up really early to make sure our school breaks and lunch packs were ready and sat with us as we had breakfast.
She prepared the stuff herself even though we had domestic help. The amazing thing is that back then, the sacrifice seemed irrelevant but right now in hindsight, I realise it left a great mark in me and whenever I think back to my childhood I see my mom in the kitchen trying to make stuff for us. It’s my picture of contentment.
I currently have a new house help and she does not understand my obsession with waking up to fix my children’s lunches and breakfast.
Sometimes I get the feeling she thinks that I don’t trust her, far from it. I want to pass to my boys the precious gift my mom passed to me; the knowledge that no matter how busy I might be, they are still my priority.
I must admit that it is not always convenient and many times, more so in the recent months, as I drag my huge belly around the kitchen I keep wondering if it makes a difference then I remember how I felt like a child and keep going.
One of the women in my local church shared with a group of us of the time when her children were growing up. She was a full time employee but she was determined to be the one who ran the show in her own home.
She work up every day at four in the morning, prepared all meals and lay out the clothes for her children and husband, had breakfast then went off to work.
Over lunch she rushed home to breastfeed her toddler and in the evening she came sat with her babies to play or do homework, feed and bathe them and then catch up with some marking once they were asleep.
For many years that was her life and it was hard. Now with both children out of the nest, she has all the time to herself and children who are well adjusted global citizens.
Her daughter was diagnosed with cancer while in medical school and in the midst of her chemotherapy treatment managed to still score top international student not just in her school but in the whole of the UK.
She is in remission thankfully now and continues to flourish. She credits her mother’s steadfast belief in her and availability as the stabilising factor in her life that has enabled her to flourish.
There was a time I thought my mom knew nothing and my life’s purpose was to grow up and be completely different from who she was.
Now that I am a mother myself, I am amazed by her patience and wisdom. My greatest achievement would be to become half the mother she was. Thank you mommy, your lessons stuck.