(This post was written on Mother’s Day a few years back. I’ve made a some slight updates and republished it as it’s just as relevant today.)
I’ve seen more Mother’s Days come and go without a mum than I have with a mother. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a sad day for me but Mother’s Day does bring moments of reflection amongst the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have.
I know that for many, who have more recently lost a mother, the pain is just a little more raw today and I do hope that if that’s the case for you, you’ll be able to recall some wonderful memories and think about the influence your mum has had on you.
I’ve shared most of the following details before but they’re what I’m thinking about this morning so I thought they were worth posting again.
On the 28th of February, 1987, my mother, Margaret Sadie Olsen, passed away at the age of 66. I was just 23 years old when mum died. When I was born my mother was 43.
There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last couple of decades. Mum wasn’t around to see me cycle across Australia for the first time, just 8 months after she passed away. She never lived to see me realise my childhood dream of working in radio.
By the time I met Pauline, mum had already been gone for close to 5 years. She never got to see her youngest child marry the woman he loves. Mum never got to hold Emily or James in her arms. How I wish she was still here to see our wonderful little family. I desperately wish that Emily and James could have met their Grandma Olsen and that Pauline could have spent time with her mother-in-law trying to unearth some embarrassing stories from my childhood.
Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to India, Canada, Papua New Guinea or Bangladesh and never had to sit at home and worry when I had to evacuate from Haiti during food riots several years ago. She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James top their classes or perform so well in so many areas of life. Mum was never very tall so Emily would already be taller than she was. Emily could have playfully leaned on her Grandma just as I used to do when I was younger.
I know that there are many significant events in the lives of my four siblings that mum has missed too. There have been highs and lows along the way but all of them would have been quite different if mum had been around to share them.
Mum’s last couple of years were spent in hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. For most of that time she was unable to communicate with us. Occasionally she was able to say a word or two but there were other signs that would show us that she knew a lot of what was going on. Mum was pretty much paralysed so even making movement to communicate was difficult.
There were several times that more bleeding in her brain would cause doctors to tell us that mum only had hours or maybe days to live. We would all begin to grieve our loss only to find the days turning into weeks or months until there was another medical setback and the whole process would begin again. You can imagine the kind of emotional toll that took on each of us.
When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. Relief that she didn’t have to suffer any longer, joy that she was now enjoying paradise but still the immense sadness of losing someone I loved so very, very much.
I know that the person I am today is very much a product of who mum was. I value the influence she was and continues to be in my life.
The photo in this post shows me a little younger than I am today with both my parents. You can click the picture for a closer look. Dad passed away over a decade ago, just days before his 83rd birthday.