Your children are not your children…


Of course I have read the words of Khalil Gibran many times. Yet this morning I read these words with and through different eyes. I read the blog post of one of my favourite bloggers –

http://deodatusblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/your-children-are-not-your-children-they-are-sons-and-daughters-of-lifes-longing-for-itself-says-khalil-gibran/ and was overwhelmed with the exquisite words of guidance contained in this beautiful poem.

Read this with me.

Your children are not your children.

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”                        
– Khalil Gibran

As a mother who carried a precious baby in her womb for almost 9 months my eyes lingered on the words “They come through you but not from you.” Vic came from me? An umbilical cord that was never severed, bound us together from the first second she were conceived. Even though death took my child from me the umbilical cord of love that bounds us cannot be severed. My love for Vic supersedes the bonds of death.

So no, I don’t agree with Gibran although I understand what he is saying. In this case I prefer literally translating his words…

                                      And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.                                                                    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,                                                                 For they have their own thoughts..

 How poignantly true these words are. As a parent it was horrible watching Vic make mistakes…knowing that her actions and decisions would lead to heartache and tears. How I wished that she would see things my way! My way would have been the safe way. Vic would have been spared rivers of tears and mountains of heartache. My way would have deprived her of great joy and happiness. As a mother I picked up pieces, held her and loved her. I could not protect her. Vic had her own thoughts!

IMG_3456

You may house their bodies but not their souls,     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

 I housed Vic’s little body. The moment of greatest sadness in my life was when Vic’s soul left her body. I was grateful that her suffering was over but devastated that our journey as mother and daughter was over. I knew that she instantly became an elevated being removed from the hardship and indignity that she suffered on earth. I knew that she would never be prod, cut, hurt or be humiliated again. As her mother, I bathed her and dressed her one last time, as I did when she was born. No other prying, clinical hands would touch her again. I was beyond grief knowing that I would never be able to talk to her again. I would never hold her again. I would never hear her say “Love you Mommy” again. My soul mate, my life was gone. My child’s soul now dwells in the house of tomorrow that I cannot visit or even comprehend.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

 I never wanted Vic to be like me. Vic was strong, brave, loved, cherished, admired, gentle, loving, forgiving and vulnerable. I am tough, logical and emotionally distant. I allow very few people close to me and, if they betray my love and trust, I cut them out of my life. As a little girl, Vic said to me “I don’t want to be like you Mommy. I just want to be a normal mummy.” Vic was the one who taught me patience, unconditional love, forgiveness and to take a chance on life and love. Vic lived every second of her life. She did not fear emotion. She did not fear love and trust. I pray that her sons will remember these qualities their mother possessed. I pray that they will be more like her than me. I did however love Vic first and everyone else second… Jon-Daniel(1)

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.  The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.  Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.  For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”

 I was the bow that send my precious girl-child forth. 

The boys do archery as an extracariculum activity. To be a good archer you need consistent anchor points: An anchor point is the place on your face where you pull the string back to consistently. This anchor point should be exactly the same all the time for a consistent grouping of shots. My parents taught me, by example, the importance consistency in values, discipline and love.

An archers grip on the bow handle should be lax and comfortable. My first instinct as a parent was “to grip the bow hard to stabilize it”. My parents taught me to be a comfortable parent. I did my best. I could not do more. No amount of tightening the grip on Vic, her discipline or my love and caring for her would have made me a better parent. My grip was lax and comfortable. My child was an amazing example to the world.

 Whether you’re doing target archery, 3D archery, or bow hunting, it is vital to concentrate and focus on one precise spot that you want to hit. As a parent is was difficult to stay focused all the time. Lots of things “get in the way” of parenting. A new love, work, own dreams and ambitions…Yet I gave birth to my incredible baby girl and I knew I had to remain focused. Vic had to come first. She did not chose to be born. I chose to give birth to her.

 Archers are told that to be relaxed whilst aiming, is one of the great secrets to success… As a parent it was almost impossible to relax. I spent my child’s life trying to keep her alive. If I relaxed I know it could have led to her death. When your child is sickly, you are overprotective… Today I wish I had relaxed more. I wish I had spent more time discussing things that, mattered to Vic than the number and colour of her bowel movements and vomiting sessions. I wish I had relaxed about her smoking. Smoking did not kill her. Doctors did.

 “At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path.” With parenting we practice as we go. We don’t ever stop or give up. I wish that we had more gladness in our lives and less sorrow and pain.

 What I am certain of is that I was a stable bow. I was unwavering in my love and commitment to Vic and now her boys. The Great Archer held us in His great Hands.

 I found this beautiful poem on http://warrenlgdemills.com/2013/05/11/umbilical-cords-a-mothers-day-poem/. Warren is an amazing poet and I have found much solace in his words.

Umbilical Cords – A Mother’s Day Poem
Posted: May 11, 2013 in Affections
Tags: love, mother’s day, poems, Poetry 1

Umbilical cords
Are but metaphors
To represent the eternal
Connection between mother
And child.

Though that cord may be severed
That love supersedes the bonds of death.
For they are the cords of life!

When a child is born
so is a mother.
It is the graduation of a girl
To a woman.
The transition from
Woman to mother.
The ascension of adult
To goddess, creator of life.

Oh great goddess,
Would you understand
The power within you?
Would you fathom
the role you play
On the stage of life?

By your love
Is a great man groomed.
By your neglect
is his future family doomed.
By your touch
Is intimacy first understood.
By your hand
Does he separate bad from good.

Oh great goddess,
For every good child
Reared from your breast
There is a star in the cosmos
To be named after you.

Though that cord was cut
You replaced it with one unseen
Your care, patience for years,
To provide the world with one more
Decent young man to make this world
A better place.

-WLGDM

All Rights Reserved. Property of Warren L.G De Mills. Copyright @ 2013.

Jared♡ĶįƦƧƳ.Ș♡(1)

The final finish line


Things don’t always work out the way we want them to.

For 9 months we carry a precious little human being in our wombs. We give birth to the love of our lives… Then we spend our lives loving and cherishing this little bundle. Nurturing it from cradle to grave…

I was in our new Hospice building today and I was overwhelmed by sadness and anger. I was unbelievable sad when I stood in the door of a Dignity Room and I realised that I was stroking a door! Gentle feelings whelmed up in me – “This is Vic’s legacy” I thought! Then bitterness and tears simultaneously pushed through to my eyes and throat.

How can my child be reduced to a frigging room??? I want to hold my child, love her, and cherish her. I want her to sit next to MY death bed and tell me it is okay to go….. I want to spend birthdays with her – not burn flippen candles. I want to buy her flowers and see the pleasure in her eyes instead of planting flippen flowers in a memory garden. I want to hug her not run my hand over a wooden casket containing her crushed ashes. I WANT MY CHILD BACK!!!!!

What brought this about? I don’t know. Maybe it is a YouTube video that I watched about another champion.

Like Vic, this young man started off in the starting block as a favourite to medal in the 400 meter Olympic race (1992). Derek Redmond tore a hamstring halfway through the race.

 Olympians could fill a pool with their tears, on a quadrennial basis. The nature of the competition ensures that however many dream of glory, most will only experience disappointment. At that moment, the bitter taste not just of a single defeat but of four years of wasted effort can simply be too much for some to handle. More than that, quite a few athletes can’t even win without tears. But no Olympic emotional outburst is ever likely to dislodge Derek Redmond’s in the minds not just of Britons but of anyone old enough to remember the 1992 Games. What made this moment special was that it brought into focus not just the near-heroic desperation of a single professional athlete but a much more universal theme: the nature of parenthood.

“I still get people coming up to me in the street because of what happened,” said Redmond in February 1993, six months after the 1992 Olympics. “But as nice as it is to know that they care, I would like to put it all behind me and not be remembered just for that.”

Redmond travelled to two Olympics and both ended with injury-induced heartache, once in the most public circumstances. For all his ability as an athlete – and he was considered likely to win a medal in Barcelona – he will forever be remembered for tearfully completing his 400m semi-final using his father as a crutch. His body never gave him the opportunity to redefine the way the world perceived him: two years after the Barcelona Games, following an 11th operation on his achilles tendon, his athletics career was over. This was his last race of any significance.

Redmond had missed the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh with a hamstring injury, and withdrew from the 1988 Seoul Olympics minutes before his first heat having failed to recover from tendinitis, having had two painkilling injections that morning in an effort to make it on to the track. The following summer, still plagued by injuries, he came close to giving up sport altogether. What the world witnessed in 1992 was a man who had been continually brought low by injury simply refusing to submit yet again.

His body had given him some hope: in the first round Redmond had run his quickest 400m for four years. “I was feeling absolutely 100% before the race,” he told me in 2006. “I’d had two really good rounds without even trying and the night before the semi-final I’d talked with my father and my coach and we’d decided I was going to push a bit harder and try to get a good lane for the final.

“On the day everything went smooth. I got a really good start, which was unusual for me. I think I was the first to react to the pistol. My normal tactics were to get round the first bend and then put the burners on for 30m, accelerate hard. But by the time I’d got upright I was almost round the bend, much further than usual, and I decided not to bother, to save my energy in case I had to fight for the line. About three strides later I felt a pop.”

It was his hamstring. Redmond collapsed to the floor, clutching his leg. Most athletes would have been quietly carried off the track and towards medical attention, but as the Red Cross workers approached Redmond instead pushed himself back to his feet. “I got up quicker than I got out of my blocks,” he said. “I said to myself: ‘There’s no way I’m going to be stretchered out of these Olympics.’ I didn’t know where I was. I really, really believed I could still qualify.”

Bizarrely, the reason Redmond first started limping around the track was a belief that if he limped fast enough he might still overtake four people and qualify for the final. “Believe me, at the time I thought I was running,” he said later. “It’s only when I see the playback I realise I wasn’t actually running very quick at all.”

Meanwhile, Redmond’s father Jim was fighting his way on to the track. “When I saw Derek hit the deck, I thought it was my mind playing tricks on me,” he told the Guardian. “I’m very involved in his training so I knew just how fit he was. All I can remember after that is telling the coach, Tony Hadley [not the lead singer in Spandau Ballet], to look after my camera. The next thing I knew, I was on the track.”

Jim told his son to stop, in case the injury might heal in time for him to compete in the relay. Derek refused. “Well then,” Jim said, “we’re going to finish this together.” And finish it they did, slowly, and with the younger man’s anguish becoming visibly greater with every pace.

Back in Northampton Redmond’s mother, Jennie, was watching events unfold on television, weeping. She later told the press that the last time she had seen her son so unhappy was when he didn’t get the bike he wanted for his sixth birthday. Redmond’s 28-year-old sister Karen was nine months pregnant; as she watched her brother’s world collapse she started to feel contractions.

Back in Barcelona, father and son batted away a succession of officials who tried and failed to convince them to clear the track. Jim, it turned out, was as much bouncer as buttress. “I’d never heard my dad using four-letter words,” Derek said the following day. “I learned a few new ones.”

“Even now, it’s hard to say how or why I did it,” said Jim. “It was a spontaneous reaction, as if I had seen him hit by a car. I certainly didn’t run down to help him finish – if anything it was to stop him. I could accept the fact that my son was injured, but not that he was going to carry on in pain, causing himself even greater damage.”

“After I crossed the line I was taken to the doctors and I was crying like a baby the whole time,” Redmond told me. “I had no idea how the crowd had reacted until I saw the video – they were the last thing on my mind. It could have gone one of two ways: they’d either think ‘what a complete prat’ or ‘good on him’. Luckily they chose the second one.”

Not everyone. Though the Redmonds were pictured on the front page of the following day’s newspaper, the Guardian’s athletics correspondent at the time, John Rodda, who was covering his ninth and last Olympic Games for the paper, decided that the incident merited only a mention in the 18th and penultimate paragraph of his main report, calling it “a display of histrionics which the crowd saw as courage but must have bewildered many”.

Most observers, though, were genuinely moved by what they witnessed. On his way from the stadium Redmond met Linford Christie, Britain’s team captain. The pair were far from friendly, and their enmity had become public after Christie criticised the 4x400m relay team that won gold at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo. “These guys are not my sort of guys,” he said. “I don’t like their attitude.” Christie added that the four – of whom Redmond was one – should have toned down their celebrations because they had “mucked up” their individual events. Redmond replied: “There’s a saying going around among the athletes that Linford is the most balanced runner in Britain because he’s got a chip on both shoulders. For once in his life he was upstaged in Tokyo and he didn’t like it.”

But that day, in the bowels of Barcelona’s Estadi Olympic, Christie approached his team-mate and the pair wordlessly embraced. “Tears started and we both broke down,” said Redmond. “I know it sounds soppy but it was Mills and Boon sort of stuff. I’ve changed my views of him completely. It shows that this sport isn’t just about coming here and making money.”

Perhaps not, but as it happens Redmond’s courage that day allowed him to enjoy a second career as a motivational speaker. That wasn’t the only lasting effect of those injury-plagued years, however: in Barcelona the swimmer Sharron Davies, another British athlete who had endured a disappointing Games, sought out Redmond to express her sympathy. The pair married two years later (but divorced in 2000). More long-lasting, it transpired, are the chronic stomach ulcers induced by Redmond’s use of painkilling medication. “I would never encourage anyone to do what I did,” he said, “but I didn’t need encouragement. I went out and did it myself.”

At the 1992 Olympics the athletes had access to a rudimentary computerised messaging system. This allowed them to log on to one of the Olympic computers, which were distributed around the athletes’ village, and send someone else a message that they would be able to pick up when they next logged on – a kind of electronic mail, if you will. It’s never really caught on. Anyway, in the days after the race Redmond received scores of messages from his fellow competitors, including this from a Canadian competitor he had never met:

“Long after the names of the medallists have faded from our minds, you will be remembered for having finished, for having tried so hard, for having a father to demonstrate the strength of his love for his son. I thank you, and I will always remember your race and I will always remember you – the purest, most courageous example of grit and determination I have seen.”

It is as true today as it was 19 years ago.


So, I suppose I related this to Vic – her life ended but her death bed wish will live on to change the community. She may be remembered for being the inspiration behind Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services.

I remember her for being a perfect little new-born with my nose and her father’s toes. I remember the doctor saying “She is so perfect. She is destined to be a Miss World”….

Vic’s finish line was death….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCAwXb9n7EY

Happy Father’s Day…


When I started thinking about Father’s Day this year I just became so depressed.  I felt that I don’t have any reason to celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow.  Today, I was going through Vic’s photos when I realized that it is not true!

My Dad died on the 21st of May 2011 and Vic’s father died on the 5th of November 1999.

Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011
Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011

I was single for most of Vic’s young life.  For most of her little life my Dad was her Dad.  Her Gramps taught her how to play cards and have a night cap….When Gramps had a nightcap he had to mix her a “drink” that had the exact same colouring as his…  They adored one another.

Just about the only thing my dad never forgot was that Vic was ill.  He could not remember my name, but he remembered Vic was ill.  He forgot whether she was in hospital or not but knew she was ill… My Dad was the greatest father in the world.  He not only loved his family but cherished us all.

I grew up in a home with a sickly mother.  A childhood back injury lead to many years of suffering and a vicious cycle of back surgery, stomach surgery, back surgery, stomach surgery….  My parents taught us that “love” was a verb – love is an action.  We lived 1 Corinthians 13 in our home.  We were taught to love, honour and respect. My father was the perfect example of what a husband and father should be.

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In my single years I received a couple of proposals.  My mom pressured me – she really wanted me to remarry…  I always said I will remarry when I meet a man like my Dad.  And then I did…

From the day we were married Vic called Danie “Daddy”.  Danie’s four children were her siblings.

Danie was absolutely amazing with Vic and her illness.  When my dad moved in with us, Danie just accepted it as part of our journey.  He was incredibly patient with my Dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s.  His selfless, caring nature has allowed me to care for my dad and my child; to pursue my career and start-up Stepping Stone Hospice.

Danie was a wonderful dad to Vic.  She distinguished between Danie and Tienie (her biological father) by referring to Danie as “Daddy” and Tienie as her father.  She absolutely adored Danie.  Danie loved Vic as if she was his own.

In the final days of Vic’s life she pleaded with him to not leave her.

"Don't leave me Daddy"
“Don’t leave me Daddy”

A couple of days before her death Vic saw her father…  Jared was standing at the bottom of her bed and she said “Look Jared, Oupa Tienie is standing behind you…”   Her dad held her hand as she stopped breathing.  Her father took her hand as she stopped breathing…

When I packed up Vic’s cupboards I found the cardigan she had bought Danie for Father’s Day this year…  This year she will celebrate Father’s Day with her father and Danie will wear his cardigan.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were special days for Vic.  She loved spoiling and being spoilt!

Vic was desperately ill last year on Father’s Day.  I cooked a large family lunch and all the Gauteng kids and grandkids came for lunch.  Vic tried to have lunch with us but within minutes she was nauseous.  I remember her eyes filling up with tears when she excused herself from the table.  “I am sorry Daddy” she said.

Father's Day 2012
Father’s Day 2012

Later that afternoon Danie’s eldest daughter lay next to her in bed. They wept together.  Danie sat with them filled with grief for the pain Vic was going through.

Danie is an amazing grandfather.  He loves Vic’s boys as much as he loves his “biological” grandchildren.  He enjoys spending time with them.  He is teaching them the value of family, goodness and love! 

This beautiful man is more than I deserve.  I love him with every fiber of my body.  I am grateful to him for the gift of his children and grandchildren every day of my life.  I am grateful that he taught me the biggest commandment of all – love!

So tonight I salute two wonderful men.  Happy Father’s Day Daddy.  Danie, you are my best friend.  I love you with every fibre in my body.  Thank you so much for being such a wonderful daddy to Vic and grandfather to the boys.

Vic's beloved Daddy and Gramps
Vic’s beloved Daddy and Gramps

Vic, I hope you have fun in Heaven tomorrow with Gramps and your father.  I know you will be surrounded and ensconced in love.  We will miss you on Father’s Day and every other day in our lives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ZMDPf9hZw&feature=colike

ALZHEIMER’S – A SPECIAL POEM


The best father in the world...
The best father in the world…

 

My beautiful dad died of Alzheimer’s.  

 This poem is for you Daddy.  You are my hero; the best father in the world.  You loved unconditionally.  you held onto your dignity with superhuman effort….

I was so proud of you.  You clung to your old-fashioned manners and values until death.

I am glad you died with your dignity intact.  I loved you every day of your life and will continue to love you every day of my life.

A special Poem
 
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
 
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
 
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
 
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’till my life is done.
 
– Unknown
My Dad a month before his death....it was such a wonderful day!
My Dad a month before his death….it was such a wonderful day!
My dad and I on my wedding day
My dad and I on my wedding day
Simply the best
Simply the best
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!

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My hero!
My hero!

My 1st Mothers Day


Today, the 12th of May 2013, is my first Mother’s Day in 38 years without my precious Vicky.

I attended my sister’s birthday party.  I smiled and participated in her birthday and Mother’s Day celebrations.  I know that worldwide millions of other mothers joined me today in quietly reflecting on our grief and sadness.

I know that the family and especially Danie were worried about how I will handle Mother’s Day.  On Friday morning Danie asked whether he could get me flowers for Mother’s Day as he has done for the past 22 years.  I declined.

I know that even though today is dedicated to mothers, entire families will be affected.  Fathers too experience grief and yet the world seems to forget about them.  Maybe it is because men are so stoic in their grief.

I saw this on a Facebook site – Grieving Mothers, and it really shook me…

552833_515481991830996_736572417_n FB GRIEVING MOTHERS

I know that Danie is grieving for Vic.  He is grieving with the boys and me.  He is grieving for us.  I know he fears that he lost part of me…. 

Today I share Mother’s Day with my fellow club members – the grieving mothers of the world.  Tonight I will reread 30 odd Mother’s Day Cards and drawings that I received from my precious child over the years.  I will cry on my own.  I will burn candles for my child and for the moms of Henry, Tommy, Raymond, Phillip, Klysta,Jason, Alex, Matthew, Caitlyn, Morgan, “B”, Jason David, James, Jesse, Steven, Graham, … I will weep for my beautiful grandsons who did not have a mommy to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” today… I will mourn my Mom – a woman of great strength, beauty and love.

Yet I am filled with gratitude and love for my stepchildren and grandchildren; the messages of love and support that started coming through from friends, family, Vic’s friends and even the boys friends mothers…

My phone started pinging early this morning.  I ignored the pings.  Danie sneaked into my TV lounge where I was sleeping on the sofa.  I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep.  Then my phone rang, and I could not ignore the call… It was Lee-Ann.  She said “HI T, I am just phoning to tell you I love you…”  I burst into hysterical tears.  Poor lee!

Danie brought me letters that the boys had written me… Jared wrote “Dear Oumie, I know we don’t have a reason to celebrate mothers day, other than to remember Mom and all she meant to us.  So I have decided that we are changing the name to Oumie’s Day.  We got you a sign that says “HOME” .  That is because this is OUR home, and it always will be.”

Jon-Daniel wrote: “Happy Mothers Day Oumie” It may not be the happiest time of the year for you.  Although your very own child is up in Heaven, you have GRANDchildren.  Nothing will ever fill the gap – Mommy’s gap!  This is the first year you will be celebrating Mother’s Day without the One who made you a Mommy.  It is difficult,you must know I am always here.  After all you are our grandmother.  The word says it all, “grand” – great, awesome, amazing.  And “Mother” – well, no need to describe that.  Everybody knows how special a mommy is.”

Henk, second eldest grandson wrote “Ouma, it was a difficult year but you are always here to help and love.  You always have a smile no matter how bad things are for you.  We are grateful for it, and that is why we love you so much and always will do.”

Yesterday little Simone put her arms around me and said “Thank you for being my Ouma.  Thank you for spoiling us.  I love you very much.  My words are your Mothers Day present.”

I have had beautiful messages of love and caring from all my stepchildren.  It has truly filled me with joy.

I also read a card that Vic gave me in 2000 “We have all changed a lot through the years Mommy but one thing will never change – and that is the love between us.  It is a special bond that keeps us close no matter where we are.  I love you more than words can say.”

I know that today my precious child and Mom are celebrating Mother’s Day together.  I am grateful for all the years we were able to celebrate together.  I love you and honour you both today.  Two amazing mommy’s…

Thank you God that today is over!!!!!

Mother's Day 2008
Mother’s Day 2008
Mother's Day 2012
Mother’s Day 2012

Johannesburg-20110828-00176_2

I am the last mother…


I come from a long line of exceptional mothers.

My Mom died 15 years and 11 months ago.  She was tiny and petite.  I remember my school friends telling me that my Mom reminded them of a fairy princess.  My Mom dressed beautifully, had perfectly manicured nails and hair…. She taught us the finer things in life.

My parents
My parents

My Mom always worked…she was bright and diligent in her profession as a bookkeeper.  She was proud to be a career girl.  Mom knitted beautifully and made glorious tapestries!

The surprising thing is that we did not ever feel deprived because Mom worked.  I was proud of my mom.  As a family, we went on wonderful holidays every single year of our childhoods.  We were always the well-dressed kids on the block…We got new bicycles, and we had a beautiful home.

As a child, I thought we were rich.  Of course, I knew that many of my parent’s friends lived in seriously nice homes, but somehow I never thought those people were wealthier than we were.  Today I realize that I grew up in a middle-class home.  As a child, I felt protected and RICH!  How amazing is that?

My mother was a remarkable lady.  She brought us up to be compassionate, honest people; to never let the sun set on an argument; to love unconditionally, to protect our own… We learnt from her strength, her respect for others, her courage, faithfulness and her love for God.  Mom was around for the happy and sad times.

My mom as a young woman
My mom as a young woman

“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”
― Kristin HannahSummer Island  http://denacronholm.com/

My Mom died after she developed septicaemia post-operatively.  It was two agonizing weeks!  We sat next to her bed willing her to fight, get well…. To die…

When my Mom died I thought my life was over.  The grief was overwhelming.  It was my first “real” death.  My gran had passed many years ago, but that was my mom’s grief… I was young, ambitious and climbing the corporate ladder.  My life went on.  I remember my Mom crying at silly times because she was missing her mom.  I remember thinking “surely it can’t be that bad?  Old people die…”

After my mom died I read these words, A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones. ” ― Kristin HannahSummer Island.  My mom grieved for her mom until the day she died.

I must add that my father was an amazing gentleman.  He supported my mom on every level.  He treated her like a queen and tolerated no less from us children.  I adored my dad!  But today’s post is about my mom and motherhood.

I only understood my mom’s love for us after I gave birth to Vic.  It was an all-consuming love.  I held my tiny baby girl in my arms and knew that she needed me for every one of her needs; she could not survive without me…  My mom and I were so close after Vic’s birth.  We shared a selfless love that only mothers can understand.  As mothers, our children come first; nothing is more important than our child’s comfort, happiness and safety.

Mom, my siblings and I
Mom, my siblings and I

“Womanhood is a wonderful thing. In womankind we find the mothers of the race.  There is no man so great, nor none sunk so low, but once he lay a helpless, innocent babe in a woman’s arms and was dependent on her love and care for his existence. It is woman who rocks the cradle of the world and holds the first affections of mankind. She possesses a power beyond that of a king on his throne.
…Womanhood stands for all that is pure and clean and noble. She who does not make the world better for having lived in it has failed to be all that a woman should be.”
― Mabel HaleBeautiful Girlhood: A Timeless Guide for Christian Adolescence

I know there are mothers out there that really suck…  I know because I have been told by friends that they were never protected or defended by their moms.  I am so sad for people who do not have a good relationship with their mothers.  I was blessed with an amazing mother and that enabled me to be a good mother to my child.  My child was an amazing mother to her sons.  She loved her boys with every fibre in her body.  She suffered excruciating pain and indignity to stay alive… Vic could have given up much earlier in her life.  She fought to live right until the end…why???  It is easy – to bring up her beloved boys herself!

Vic reading to her boys
Vic reading to her boys

I am so proud of the mother Vic was.  She packed a lifetime of parenting into the little time that she had with her boys.  Jon-Daniel’s (14 years) BBM message this morning read “I really do miss you Mommy.  I miss the laughs we had and the time we spent together, and I miss talking to you.  Love you Mommy.”

A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard
A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard

The boys are level-headed, clean-living boys.  They have taken their mother’s words to heart “I am your mother not your excuse”.  Academically they are doing well.  Emotionally they are coping.  They are beautiful boys and truly do Vic’s memory honour.

I am the last mother alive…there will be no next generation mother to carry forward this miracle of motherhood.  The boys may become fathers, but I am the last of a long line of great mothers.

I will think of it on Sunday when millions celebrate Mother’s Day all over the world.

 

 

 

 

3 Months Ago


Every day I go to Vic’s Facebook page to see whether someone remembered her… I leave her messages… Today at 14:18 I dialled her mobile number out of habit.

Exactly three months ago I knew my child’s life had been reduced to hours…I knew that her little body could no longer fight whatever infection was raging in it.  Her temperature was off the chart… the thermometer only registers temperatures up to 106 °F (41.5 °C) and then goes onto “HI”.

It was this time, three months ago, that Vic’s breathing changed.  Three months ago it was Vic’s last night of breathing.

Earlier that day I fell asleep next to Vic – my hand on the pulse in her neck.  I was so exhausted I could not think or function.  I just needed to be with her every second of her last hours.

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The boys came to say their goodbyes…

I no longer allowed visitors.

I remember lying next to her recalling a discussion we had when I had flu and was running a fever.  I am a terrible patient.  I am such a ninny.  I remembered saying to Vic “Sweetie, when I am dying please don’t let people touch me…”

“I won’t” she promised.  “My skin also hurts when I am running a fever…”

“Why didn’t you tell me?  It must irritate you when I stroke your hand or hair when you are sick?”

“Because I know you need to touch and hold me when I am sick…” she said.

“I will never to it again.  So next time you are running a fever know I want to hold your hand and stroke your hair…”

“It’s okay Mommy.  You can hold my hand.  I don’t mind.  It hurts but makes me feel better…”

“That’s an oxymoron if I have ever heard one in my life!” I laughed and Vic joined in

That night, three months ago, there was no idle chatter or laughter in the house.  Just the sound of Vic’s breathing.

Tonight, three months later, everyone has gone to bed.  There is no sound of laughter or idle chatter in the house.  Earlier tonight there was.

I keep imaging that I am hearing Vic’s footsteps shuffling down the passage. The boys have lit extra candles for their mom.  I know that they are sad.

I am aware that the dynamics of my grief is changing.  I am starting to function, smile and look “alive”.  The numbness has gone.  The pain is real now.  My sadness is constant.  I go to sleep with tears in my eyes and wake up with tears running into my hair.  My grief has become “mine”.  It has become a constant companion.  I do not want to share it.  I want to embrace it.

I know there is so much to be grateful for, I know I wanted Vic’s suffering to end, I am grateful that she is no longer fracturing vertebrae from vomiting, crying with pain… I KNOW all of this on an intellectual level.  I try to tell my heart to be happy or at least grateful, but my heart won’t listen!

I don’t want to sleep tonight.  I want to lie awake and remember my beautiful baby girl, her warm smile, her tiny little hands and her pure soul.  If I fall asleep I pray that I will dream of my baby girl…