Mother’s Day 2020

Rodney Mum 1984

(This is a slightly updated post based on my what I have previously written for Mother’s Day.)

I don’t remember anything remarkable about the last Mother’s Day we shared with mum before the illness that consigned her to hospital for the rest of her days, but then we weren’t expecting it to be the last. As far as we knew there’d be many more days to celebrate mum.

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, not to mention how it would have been for mum who was trapped inside a body that no longer did what it was meant to do.

Rodney Mum 1964When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. There was 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’ve seen several 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 always brings moments of reflection among the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have and celebrating with Pauline’s mum.

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 hope that in years to come the day will be a celebration of the memories your mother has left you.

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. Mum was 43 when I was born.

There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last few 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 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. I wish that Emily had been able to introduce her husband, Josh, to Grandma Olsen.
Rodney Dad Mum
Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to places like India, Canada, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, the Philippines or Bangladesh and never had to sit at home and worry when I had to evacuate from Haiti during food riots several years ago.

Although she never got there, mum had an interest in travelling to Africa. I so wish I could tell her about my journey to Ethiopia and Rwanda a number of years ago. She was long gone before I took up the challenge of working for Compassion to see children released from poverty around the world.

She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James born and then grow up to perform so well in many areas of life. Mum wasn’t very tall so both Emily and James are taller than she was. They could have playfully leaned on their Grandma just as I used to do when I was younger.

I know that there are many significant events in the lives of my 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.

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.



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Mother’s Day 2016

Rodney Mum 1984

(This is a slightly updated post based on my what I wrote for Mother’s Day last year.)

I don’t remember anything remarkable about the last Mother’s Day we shared with mum before the illness that consigned her to hospital for the rest of her days, but then we weren’t expecting it to be the last. As far as we knew there’d be many more days to celebrate mum.

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, not to mention how it would have been for mum who was trapped inside a body that no longer did what it was meant to do.

Rodney Mum 1964When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. There was 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’ve seen several 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 always brings moments of reflection among the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have and celebrating with Pauline’s mum.

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 hope that in years to come the day will be a celebration of the memories your mother has left you.

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. Mum was 43 when I was born.

There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last few 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 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.
Rodney Dad Mum
Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to places like India, Canada, Indonesia, 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. Although she never got there, mum had an interest in travelling to Africa. I so wish I could tell her about my journey to Ethiopia and Rwanda a couple of years ago. She was long gone before I took up the challenge of working for Compassion to see children released from poverty around the world.

She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James born and then grow up to perform so well in many areas of life. Mum wasn’t very tall so both Emily and James are taller than she was. They could have playfully leaned on their 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.

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.



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Mother’s Day 2015

Rodney Mum 1984

I don’t remember anything remarkable about the last Mother’s Day we shared with mum before the illness that consigned her to hospital for the rest of her days, but then we weren’t expecting it to be the last. As far as we knew there’d be many more days to celebrate mum.

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, not to mention how it would have been for mum who was trapped inside a body that no longer did what it was meant to do.

Rodney Mum 1964When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. There was 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’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 always brings moments of reflection among the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have and celebrating with Pauline’s mum.

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 hope that in years to come the day will be a celebration of the memories your mother has left you.

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. Mum was 43 when I was born.

There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last few 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 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.
Rodney Dad Mum
Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to India, Canada, Indonesia, 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. Although she never got there, mum had an interest in travelling to Africa. I so wish I could tell her about my journey to Ethiopia and Rwanda last year. She was long gone before I took up the challenge of working to see children released from poverty around the world.

She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James top their classes or perform so well in so many areas of life. Mum wasn’t very tall so both Emily and James are taller than she was. They could have playfully leaned on their 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.

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.



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A Mother’s Decision

ThaiHouse

One of the greatest honours in my work is sitting in the homes of those living in poverty and hearing their stories. It’s impossible in the short time I have with them to really enter into their world but sometimes there are glimpses that give me a new respect for the courage they show in facing the kinds of struggles so very many people in our world meet each day just to survive.

A few days ago I travelled on winding mountain roads a few hours out of Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a number of fellow Australians. We arrived at a small village and it was there that we met an amazing woman. She welcomed a small group of us into her home. We sat together and she started telling us her story.

We asked a lot of questions about her home, which her husband had built from timbers he sourced in the surrounding jungle areas. It took around five years to gather the materials and a similar time to construct their dwelling. Her husband is a farmer, working at little more than a subsistence level.

It wasn’t long before she started telling us about the eldest of her four sons, who is currently about eighteen, and the brain tumour that he is battling. How do you cope with something like that when you’re already living in poverty? Thankfully Thailand’s health system has paid a significant amount of his treatment costs but the remaining amount is still a struggle.

Her youngest son is almost three. He seemed to be a happy and healthy little boy. In his old, worn grey t-shirt and red shorts he lay on the concrete floor, leaning his head on his mother’s lap. At the time of his birth his mother was suffering from a kidney disease. After breast feeding her new baby for just fourteen days the doctors told her she would have to stop as they needed to give her medication which would affect her milk.

Not being able to breast feed meant buying formula for her son. The problem was, their family couldn’t afford the ongoing cost. Having to regularly buy formula was simply beyond their means.

The solution was almost unthinkable. They would have to find someone else in their village to take their baby. To simply ensure that he could live, they would need to give him up to someone who could afford to look after him.

No mother should ever have to face that kind of decision. The most precious of all gifts, their brand new baby boy, would have to grow up in someone else’s family, calling someone else mum. Poverty is a thief and a destroyer.

Thankfully, that’s when the local church, partnering with Compassion, stepped in. Mother and son were registered in Compassion’s Child Survival Program at the church, meaning that the family would have the essential support they needed to stay together.

Mum’s kidney disease is now improving too. Instead of the 90 tablets she was taking each day, she’s down to just three.

In a few months that precious little boy will turn three and he will ‘graduate’ into Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, meaning that he’ll get the opportunity of being released from spiritual, socio-emotional, physical and economic poverty in Jesus’ name. A sponsor, thousands of kilometres away from his village, will pay a modest monthly amount to secure his future and to let him know that he is loved.

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow, let me encourage you to consider making the burden for a mother living in poverty a little lighter by sponsoring a child through Compassion. Let’s together honour the mothers in our own lives as well as those mothers who, through no fault of their own, are facing the kinds of struggles and decisions no one should ever face. (If you’re reading this after Mother’s Day it’s not too late to make a lifetime of difference for a child and relieving some of the burden for their mother through child sponsorship.)



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Mother’s Day 2014

Rodney Dad Mum

(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, Indonesia, 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 both Emily and James would be taller than she was. They could have playfully leaned on their 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 in 2002, just days before his 83rd birthday.



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