Bec – 30 October 2011
Today was the 15th Anniversary of my mum’s death.
It’s hard to believe that so many years have passed by since we lost her from our lives…… it still feels like just yesterday I was a child and she was with me, leading the way, guiding me and comforting me.
So much has changed for me since Mum died, I became an adult, I fell in love, got married and had my own family.
The way I remember my mum has mellowed with time and as a woman and mother now myself.. so many opinions and thoughts about her have changed. This for me is the saddest part…the fact that I can not sit down and talk to her as a woman, a friend, a mother….who would have struggled with the same issues as me…..and may have had some answers for me.
One particular incident was with my mothers close friend Michelle Labow, whom I stayed with in Stowe,Vermont after Mum died.
It was my first night in her home and we were telling stories about Mum, remembering her through our own eyes…….Michelle told a story about Cheryl telling wickedly naughty jokes, having a couple of glasses of wine and having every one at the table fixated on her as she held court.
I shook my head at Michelle and stated that she must be thinking about the wrong person. My mum never really drank more than a sip…she certainly didn’t tell naughty jokes or hold court at a party. Who did she think she was talking about!!! I left the table quite angry and confused. This was my mum’s friend…..someone who was supposed to know her intimately and she didn’t know her at all. So I thought!!!
It turns out…she knew another woman… Cheryl…her friend!
Later that evening, Michelle came to me and explained that neither of us remembered her incorrectly, we simply remembered different facets of her life…….I as a mother and nurturer…and her as a friend and a vibrant woman..who could turn heads and tell a really great joke (often forgetting the punch line …..which made it even more hilarious)!
At the time..I thanked her for explaining but I didn’t get it.
It has taken me 15 years to get it….and her message was probably one of the most important things I ever learnt about my mum.
It’s so easy to get caught in the ‘mummy trap’, you know you are truly entrenched when your children’s friends know you as ‘Foster’s mummy’ instead of by your first name.
My mum was obviously a lot better at keeping all the areas of her lives compartmentalised and I wish I could talk to her about just how she managed to do that. As I get older I realised she was so active both inside and outside of home, at the hospital, at school, in the community, as a daughter, as a wife but probably more importantly to her as a friend to so many.
She and my dad, valued and value their friends. They had such a diverse and wide reaching network of people they cherished and derived joy from.
In my life, I feel that maybe I have not paid enough attention to my friendships, letting them slip as the ‘Mummy trap’ took hold…always vowing to ‘catch up’ when things slowed down. Well, my friends….things are never going to slow down…so I am just going to have to shift priorities.
It’s funny… in life… we plan for babies…we plan for our children’s education….. we plan for accidents by taking insurance…..we plan for holidays….but the one certainty we have in life….. is death, it’s definitely going to happen .…and we never really plan for it. Everyone always says…..I ran out of time…who saw that coming…..well it is coming…so get out and enjoy your lives, your families and your friends.
And on the 15th anniversary of Cheryl, I am using her death to realise that I am still ALIVE…and that it is my responsibility to live my life in the most fulfilling and useful way that I can. There is a wonderful saying…” You can not control how you enter or when you leave this life…but you can choose how you live whilst you are here”.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Mum before her death with a list of questions. My final question on the list was “Do you have any regrets?”….she thought long and hard about this and I was a little afraid of what the answer might be….but it came back as “Yes…I would have worn the pink dress rather than the yellow dress to my 21st”.
That’s it right there folks..….if that is your greatest regret in life…then you lived it pretty well !!! We should all aim to go out this way.
So to all those family and friends who loved my mum and were so loved by her I say thank you for making her 50 years so happy and so fulfilling.