Friday, December 24, 2010

An ASD Night Before Christmas...

You all the know the old version, so here is the Madmother reworked one:

An ASD Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the home
Not a meltdown had happened, not even a moan;

The stockings were hung wherever they could,
In hopes that old Santa would soon hit our ‘hood;

The children both nestled like angels asleep,
As I sat exhausted, having a weep;

The year almost over, appointments all run,
Therapies halted, routine now undone.

For most ‘tis the season for all to be jolly,
In an ASD house to lose order is folly.

And so as I sat, wiped the tears from my face,
I knew that for morning I must myself brace.

He had made me happy, with his pixie-ish glee
The evening was joyous, as the Eve just should be

But tomorrow his senses would hit overload,
And a Christmas Day meltdown was sure to explode.

Lost in my thoughts, stiff drink by my side,
A sudden strange noise drew attention outside.

I walked to the door filled with visions of drunks,
Flung it wide open expecting some punks.

Imagine my shock, when to my surprise
There stood old Saint Nick before tired eyes!

I rubbed them quite hard, then I rubbed them again
As he held out his gloved hand, said “Hello friend”

In shock I did shake it, invited him in
And asked if he wanted some of my Gin?

“No, right now you need it a lot more than myself."
I downed it, surrendered the glass to his elf.

Resplendent in red suit, white beard down his front.
The lounge creaking loudly, he sat with a grunt.

His elf dropped beside him, the sack at his feet
My jaw still hung open, in sheer disbelief

He had a broad face and a big round belly,
That shook, as he spoke, like a bag full of jelly.

“I wanted to drop by in person tonight
Accept my apologies for the sudden fright.

I usually come in when you are all asleep,
To check on the children and spread magic to keep

You all happy and safe and sound for the year
But I have this letter that you need to hear.”

From his red pocket, he pulled out a sheet
All crumpled and wrinkled and covered in sleet.

He unfolded it carefully, well-read as it was,
Pulled out his spectacles, placed onto nose.

He cleared his dry throat and then lowered his chin,
“Dear Santa, well that’s same way they all do begin,
How are you, ready for Christmas this year?
I tried to be good, but wasn’t real good I fear.
My name is Boy 1, I have ASD
Things get quite hard when you have to be me.
See, my Mummy she loves me just as I am
She saves me from falling and tells me I can
Do anything I want, in this great world of mine
She works hard to assist me and allows me to shine.
But she gets quite tired and cries sometimes too
So I have a big favour to ask just of you.
This Christmas please don’t bring me any new stuff,
Mummy, she makes sure I've more than enough.
This Christmas I don’t want my Mum to be sad
So can you please help me to stop acting bad.
I know it is hard when she sees all my fears
So, could you please help me to stop screams and tears?
I know you can do it, I do really believe
In the magic of Christmas, so please could you? Please?
I will do my best to be good next year too,
Oh and I’ve left out some milk and cookies for you.”

He folded it back up, mopped the tears from my cheeks
“You must truly be proud, that boy is unique.

I’ve had tons of letters, is it a million or ten?
But not one of the others I brought back to them.

I think he has granted your one real Christmas wish,
So I will bid you adieu and a very Merry Christmas.”

With that he turned, without a sound he was gone
Leaving me here filled with hope and so strong.

So believe in the magic, when nothing feels right


"Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a good-night."

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may 2011 mark the best of yet to come.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Madmother? Wasn't she...

That woman who had a blog? Oh, hang on, didn't she have more than one? Wonder whatever happened to her?

Yeah - that's the one. Cheeky devil, but I think that photo is from quite a few years back when she still had her spunk and spark. Wonder where she is now, she just seemed to vanish into the ether...

Oh well, I'll just move on to the next blog that tickles my fancy.

Ever wonder if this is what will happen to you? So many bloggers seem to come and go, the blog muse is a fickle creature who abandons even the most prolific of us. Remember Kellyansapansa? Kellywhat I hear some newer folk asking? Kellyansapansa was a shining beacon in blogworld until moving onto other lives. Melissa at Things I'd Tell You is another popular blogger who has hit the real life sucks wall. And as for me, well I didn't even have the energy to go to most of my writing course let alone blog. *Sigh*.

Destined to become a mere passing comment in years to come... "Madmother? Oh, yeah, I remember her..."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

People Disappoint.

You know what? I am having quite possibly, the most stressful, horrendous time of my life. Let's just summarise events of the last few months:
  • After months of travelling up and down to hospital, my beautiful mother, Wise Woman, chose to leave this life on her terms. Best way to go ever, but I still lost the only person who completely understood, supported and could kick my arse into line with a look.
  • Boy 2 is dissolving emotionally. He is grieving and being socially ostracised by so-called peers, we have now pulled him out of school as it failed miserably in its duty of care and put him at risk.
  • I had to evict a psychotic tenant from my holiday houses, all whilst enduring threats, abuse, and slander. Yes, she had done a runner when I arrived, but she had trashed my cottage and stolen property. It also meant I had to fly down there and leave my baby at the worst possible time.
  • I have been ill. So ill I could not leave my bed for three days - something my children have not seen in their lifetime - and even now, over a week later, I am still ill.

You'd think people would realise no matter how strong you are there is only so much a person can take before breaking, wouldn't ya? Nope.

It is at times like this you soon find out who your real friends are. And it seems to be true, old friends are the best friends. Even though they are miles away some of the most caring support I have had is from the friends of MY childhood.  E-mails, phone calls, love.

And then there are my internet friends, some of whom have crossed over into reality. Again, support, contact, and caring. Just a few words or lines sent at unexpected times can mean so much. It is when we feel truly alone that the demons surface, and the pain can overcome the joy of being. You let the dark thoughts dominate, but then a message or e-mail saying "hey, thinking of you" sheds light into those black crevices and gives you a way to start to climb back up.

Then there are those conspicuous by their silence. Always the ones you do not expect. Sadly, after listening to years of judgement on how other people have let her down I now am going to direct her to a mirror. For someone who has such high friendship standards she has no idea how to be a friend. And I no longer have the energy to waste on someone who does not realise friendship is about cycles - sometimes it will not be all about you.

I have come back in to elaborate as I have had two friends contact me thinking it was them. I am not talking about a short silence, I am referring to a silence from the point of my mother's death. I am talking about a quick, "oh, I'm sorry. But she was old," upon my announcement. Then it was back to her. Then... nothing. No quick "you okay" calls, or how ya doing. Some would say, well how would she know? She knows, believe me. Through facebook and mutual city friends. She does not read this, she does not know of this blog (thank God), and I guess normally I would just write her off without a backward glance. But I am not the everyday me, I am hurting and this adds to my hurt. We do not see each other often even though we only live an hour apart, but when we did it was nice. Fun. I guess I feel betrayed - a decade of friendship down the tubes. Sadly I think I should have seen it coming a while ago and it would not have hit when everything else is.

Thank God for the people I do have around me, for they are gold.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Today the Angels Cry - Happy Birthday Tookie...

Happy 7th Birthday T'Keyah!

Not because they are sad, oh no. They are celebrating the heavenly birthday of the glorious T'Keyah, one of the brightest angels in their midst. No, today the angels cry for the veil of sadness that enshrouds Tookie's family. It is okay for the angels, they have the joy of being with her, but for her parents and siblings, whilst they feel the warmth of her love showering down upon them, well, it is just not the same as having the warmth of her little body to hold, her smile to light up their days, or her wonderful laughter to bring happiness into their lives.

And so the angels cry, and yearn to comfort T's family. They long to say: "It is okay, she is happy, healthy and free of sadness and pain. She watches over you and still lives deep within your heart and mind, and wants you all to know she is still with you."

But they know right now they will not be heard, that tears and pain stop T's family from being able to hear the tiny angelic whispers of comfort. So today, they too cry. They weep for the grief they witness, for the agony they watch from above. And they wait for the day their tiny voices will be heard, when they will allow one small voice to join them to tell the family:
"Wub you to the moon and back..."

You are sorely missed Miss T.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's The Little Things

The twenty times a day "I'll just ring Mum" flashes through my brain. The numerous times "Oh, Mum'll know..." comes to the forefront of my mind. The inability to sort anything of hers out, and her voice in my head lecturing me on procrastination.

It is the fear I am doing the wrong thing in my attempts to help Boy 2 and my need to ask her advice as she was always my voice of reason and calm. It is my desire for reassurance that the action we are about to undertake on his behalf is the right one, and knowing she would be the only one I would trust to ask.

It is the large, dark bird of grief that hovers in a corner of my brain until I shove it away, unable to face the magnitude of my loss.

It is the thought that I may let her down if I make the wrong decisions, or am unable to make any at all.

I miss her with every fibre of my being, but am trying to be strong for it is what she would wish.

I am sick and even when I was in the midst of Prague I had the security of Mum calls to get me through illness. It is part of the year of firsts. My first virus without my Mum.

Recent events have been hell, and I am holding it together but cannot mourn. Not yet, not now. And so the black bird swoops into vision at the times I let my guard down - and it is driven back again and again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Yep, I'm back. In one piece. Will post later about the trip and the consequences but for now just want to keep this simple.

I have a dilemma. Big Boy works until late Christmas Eve, it is the busiest time of the year for our retail business. We cannot go away until after Christmas Day.

But... I do not want to be at home, I do not want to be surrounded by years of memories of Wise Woman Christmases. But I have no idea what to do instead. Add in the fact that Boy 1 will not cope with change and neither child enjoys eating out, then you have my dilemma.

How on earth do I make this a joyous time for my children whilst not allowing the memories and grief to swamp us?

Any ideas from blog world?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Something To Lighten The Load

For the first time I am joining in with the Special Needs Blog Hop. Please be gentle - after the last few months I am slightly delicate little petal-ish.


To join in the Special Needs Blog Hop is simple. We will ask a question or give a topic and you go back to your blog create a Special Needs Blog Hop.
Post with your answers to the question or topic. Then come back and link up with a DIRECT link to your post.
We ask that you follow Autism Learning Felt and Super Mommy To The Rescue.
When hopping from blog to blog please let them know you came from the Special Needs Blog Hop in the comments.
We have noticed that some participants are not following the directions of this blog hop. If you link up to this hop, and have not followed the directions, your link will be removed.

This Weeks Topic:
Tell us a funny memory involving your child or children.

And don't we all have those, special needs or no special needs. My oldest, Boy 1, is my master of Aspergerisms. He is black and white, the monitor of all being right in the world. Actually he is the holder of all being right in my world due to his tight grip on my heart, but back to the giggle moment.

Being the information guru that he is, when he asked (Age 5) how he came into the world as he knew he grew in Mummy's tummy, we decided the best call was to give him the bare biological facts. Young, I know, but with a forever never-forget-one-little-detail memory we knew we had be truthful even if skimming the topic at hand.

And so I explained how normally one is birthed via the birth canal and the vagina or giny as we called it. Nodding wisely, he wandered off to ponder the complexities of biology.

At bedtime he came in with a big grin, ear to ear. He had mulled it over and come to the Boy 1 theory of his creation.

"I understand now Mum. I was in your tummy, then I came out of your tummy and you washed away the wees and named me L!"

Ah, if only it HAD been that simple. Gotta love life through the eyes of a child, even a little professor such as this.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Should Never Have Even Considered

that life was going to get easier. Know how I mentioned in my last post about the sun peeking through? Well, the storm clouds rolled right back in just after I hit publish.

I have a business I run from interstate. I own two cottages which I rent out as holiday accommodation. And I have someone in the full throws of a violent, delusional episode refusing to check out. She was meant to leave Friday, and I had another booking coming in that afternoon - confirmed and paid in full. Instead I dealt with many abusive, ranting phone calls, plus agressive e-mails. Spent day on the phone to police, lawyers, tenancy , Dept of Fair Trading, psycho tenant, employee, new booking, friends and relatives in the village.

You cannot reason with someone whose mental capacity is in full meltdown. No matter how calmly you keep communication they are irrational and in full victim mode. I have been accused of being a terrorist, a bitch, a liar and a thief. She screams and writes that she is telling everyone there what a cold, money hungry cow I am. She is threatening legal action. I do not tell her I am fifth generation in the area, and grew up with most of the people she is ranting to, I do not tell her that I am told how everyone in this small village abhors and reviles her - especially as they know me well and her bad-mouthing only makes her look more of a crazy, stupid female. I do not tell her that the legal team she is supposedly threatening me with has worked with my family on and off for three generations, and this time have been our lawyers for seven years straight. I want to, I want to rant and scream back at her especially as she throws in the "don't care if your fucking mother has died" comment (a fact she learnt from my friends in the area, probably  attempting to get her to be rational and show a little compassion). But I don't. However, I no longer have any compassion for the plight of her own creation, and I will have her removed. In one of her rants she visciously screamed at me: "You have no idea who you are dealing with."

She is still there. So, when my youngest son truly needs his mother by him I now have to fly off to evict her accompanied by security, sheriff, removalist and locksmith. Legally she is now a trespasser. As holiday accommodation we do not fall under the Tenants Act but the far more reasonable Innkeepers Act.

But seriously - this is just what I don't need right now. I have no pity left for this woman, I am fighting too hard for my own family's survival and sanity. And all I would say to her as I prepare to fly out in the next few days:

"You have no idea who you are dealing with you stupid, stupid woman. But by hell you are about to find out!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of...

Stuff. I know this blog has been steeped in sadness of late, but this is the one safe haven I come to for sorting things out in my mind. And in words. Today, I have awoken to a sense of relief. Why? Because I picked up Boy 2 and he had had a good day yesterday. When all is right with my boys that weight laden block in my heart eases off. I won't go into details here, but suffice to say he has been recognised as not the only one responsible for recent events. We are not now minimising his total over the top out of control reaction, and we will be continuing to work with the school and his psychologist on a constant basis, but there is a glimmer of light! He no longer feels the world is against him totally (and I happen to know a big part of this is due to his amazing brother and his black and white/right and wrong outlook).

For those of you who have offered support and help - thank you, and I will be continuing to beg, plead and grovel for all advice.

But today, today I have my boys home and we are going to laugh, love, smile and live. Today the sun is peeking throught the clouds. Today I can smile a little.

Oh, and it's Flog Yo Blog Friday, some come and join in.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trying to Make Sense of It

My second son is in crisis. Serious crisis. We knew things were bad for him, but yesterday found out just how bad, and how dangerous his behaviour had become. He has threatened another child, actions we knew nothing about and I am seriously mystified as to WHY nobody told us what was happening. I have expressed as much to the school, how are we to help him or change his behaviour if we are unaware? How does it help anyone if we are not told? If I am only hearing his side, and the teacher is confirming snippets, how on earth are we to know otherwise?

Please do not think I am excusing his actions, we are taking this very seriously but are now scrambling to catch up. And it is extremely serious - he threatened the life of another. He has threatened to take his own life, and we had and were still dealing with this, trying to guide him and give him the emotional tools to get through the darkness. But then it turned outward. Eleven years old and in such a terrifying emotional state as to feel desperate enough to do this, to seriously intimidate another. But I understand why he feels this way, I get why he felt so lost and alone and irrational because he is like me.

The child he threatened has always pushed his buttons (and I am not blaming this boy, everyone has someone they like but butt heads with, and these two have had a love/hate thing for many years), and my child preceived this as him being the cause of the loss of friendships. He grabbed hold and fixated on this boy being the root of all his issues, and to be honest, we thought he was isolating our son. Whilst we understood Boy 2's actions were why (along  with the long standing rivalry) it was occurring, we did wonder why now, when our son so desperately needed his mates, was this child excluding him from everything? Obviously we had no idea how extreme our son's reactions had become. We now understand this boy was trying to protect his mates from the verbal and physical lashing out, the out of control emotional responses. We now understand because finally we were included in the loop, which we had not been. Not in the full sense.

His behaviour started to fall apart when Wise Woman fell ill. I have to wonder if he, being highly intelligent and as his psych says, emotionally articulate way beyond his years, knew deep down as I did that this was leading to the end of her life.

He became possessive and controlling to friends, a trait he and I share but one I have learned in my teenage years to control. He was losing one of the few people he could depend on, someone who loved him unconditionally, and he was scrambling to find solid ground. We are not blessed like a lot of others, we have little family and our really close friends are all interstate. You know, the ones that are like family who will be there for you and your kids no matter what, the ones who don't pull punches and will tell you in no uncertain terms exactly what's what because you have those long, solid years of history that bind.
And so, here he was, dealing with really, really hard stuff and trying to grasp tightly onto something, anything. And by doing so he pushed them away. The more he tried to hold on, the faster they ran. A completely normal reaction for ten and eleven year old boys. And the more alone and desperate he became.

Take a step back and think about it. He is a young boy, they are claiming he may be on the gifted side so there is no doubt he is smart, he constantly deals with a brother on the autism spectrum, he watches his beloved Nanna slipping away from life, and then loses all his friends. How would you feel? And you are an adult remember, not an eleven year old very scared totally lonely grieving little boy.

There are other issues, obviously. His perception of friendship was completely rocked by witnessing the verbal attack by my former friend turned stalker and the emotional repercussions it had on me, the one person he believed to be invincible. Financial pressures as our business struggled through the recession. Puberty hitting his already emotionally volatile older brother. All these emotional triggers building up inside this one small body.

Am I excusing his actions? No. But I am asking for compassion and understanding for whilst others see a child who they do not want their kids around, I see my son falling deeper and deeper into this destructive cycle that could take him from us. He is now the one parents will tell their children to avoid. The one who has no friends for sleepovers or playdates. The one alone. My baby, broken. And I am desperately trying to hold the pieces together whilst we find some a way to help him heal.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flog Yo Blog Friday - Life As It Was...


The Rules
Follow the Random Ramblings of a SAHM.  Not that any of this is her idea anyway- FYBF is MummyTime's brainbaby. RRSAHM stole it.
Grab the bubbly button and post it on your sidebar. Link your First Name and/or Blog Name and URL of your post or blog.
Add a short description (max of 125 chars). It could be a description of yourself, your blog or a teaser to your latest post. 
Follow at least 1 linkyer/blogger (Be nice and spread the love).
The list will be open for linkyers on Fridays (and for the foreigners Friday as well).
A new and fresh link list will open every Friday. And you will have to link up AGAIN. The previous link list does not carry over to the following week.
And lastly, have lotsa fun.
Warped realisations that a Wise Woman would appreciate.

My mother was a lady through and through, but there still was this slightly mad, quirky, mischievous side to her (where did you think I got my weirdness from, huh? Huh?). In my earlier years (and remember I have just turned forty seven, so by early years I mean in my early twenties) WW and I used to shake up the house of my childhhood by boogying our butts to two songs.

This one:

Sadly, looking at the clip now I can see a lot of similarities between it and my hometown... Whoopsie.

And this one:

We would crank up the volume and run around like a pair of silly buggers as Grumblebum used to complain. Now, these were always our songs. Whenever we heard them we would automatically be transported back to those fun afternoons bopping in the lounge room. And so, me being the Madmother I am, I was tempted to succumb to my warpedness with Wise Woman's burial. The funeral director asked me if I wanted music played at her graveside as the casket was lowered. And I was so very, very drawn to request - have you worked it out yet -

Workin in a coal mine
Goin down down
Workin in a coal mine
Whew about to slip down...

She would have loved it. Been slightly horrified and a little mortified, but laughing behind the hand covering her mouth. And no, I didn't. Our older relatives would have been rather unimpressed.

I miss you Mum.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's My Birthday and I'll Cry If I want To.

The year of firsts has begun. The first Halloween on Sunday, when small my children only ever trick or treated Nanna. As they grew older she was always first on their ever growing doorknock list.

And today. Today is the first of my birthdays without my mother. Today I woke with tears on my cheeks. Today I want to hide under the covers and pretend it is not happening. I want to stop the world from spinning. I want my mum. And I cannot change any of it, for we all know there is no stopping the year of firsts no matter how much we wish it to be otherwise.

I think W.H. Auden summed it up best in his second version of

Funeral Blues: Stop All The Clocks.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

A motherless

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blog This Challenge 60 - Life's Hard Lessons

Life is Too Short

One of the certainties in life is death. My mother, Wise Woman, always told me life is too short, make the most of it, do not let the small bad things detract from the big wonderful ones. This is the hardest of lessons you will ever learn. I guess it is another way of saying stop and smell the roses.

God decided to try and instil this one in me at a young age of fifteen. He took my sister. Suddenly, brutally, bang - gone! My whole life changed and I became an only child. My parents fell apart and I, the only remaining child, had to attempt to keep our lives functioning in some semblance of normalcy. It was my first life lesson in grief, and my initial experience of life IS too short. Other losses followed, and today I am once more living this life lesson. I buried my mother on Tuesday. The woman who gave me a life has left mine. Not in my heart or my head but in the physical.

Some of you are sitting, reading this and wondering "why on earth at such a time as this would she be doing this challenge?" Simple. Because one of the biggest ideals my mother has left me with is so very important: Life is short. She would hate me feeling the way I do (and I do, believe me, right now I feel like my guts have been ripped out), and be telling me to look at my blessings. They are many. I had a wonderful mother who loved me deeply and shared my life for nearly forty seven years, I have a beautiful family, we live in a glorious part of the world, I have true, loyal friends who support me and hold me above the waves when I sink.

This is not coming out as I intended. What I am trying to tell you is to love those near as much as you can. Hold them, laugh with them, live with them. In the moment. The bills will end up paid, that job will eventuate, the problems will be resolved. Sometime. Children grow up, people die, life changes so EACH new day take time to smile, feel good about yourself, change those things that drag, take control of life on your terms. Live, Laugh, Love. A very Wise Woman once taught me those very things.


I am awake, remembering, thinking. During the day I can avoid going to that raw, festering wound of grief. I keep busy, so very busy. But in the darkness of ungodly hours it is unavoidable. Confronting. I just want to talk to her, hold her, feel her arms around me comforting me. But all there is is pain. And the one person who always made it all better is gone. Forever.

Breathe, just breathe.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blogging the Memories: Tales of a Wise Woman.

Writing my mother's eulogy has brought to the forefront years of memories. And as I tend to close off and batten down in real life you lot will have to put up with being bombarded.

I watched Uptown Girls today. The final scene where the little girl, Ray, dances to Molly's song remonded me of my dance classes as a child. Yes, the totally cool, uber trendy Madmother once danced in a pale white tutu. And a kilt, but we'll leave that one alone for a while, m'kay?

Back to ballet. I studied for two years and each year completed my exams. I came first in Scholars, managed an honours mark and even beat the teacher's daughter in the testing (nah nah nah nahna - yes I know it should be ner). But I was never given the lead roles in the end of year production, or even in the smaller recitals during the year. Nooo - that went to the daughter didn't it. So, my only chance to shine in front of the families and other girls was during the solo during examinations. Me being, well... me, I took the opportunity and ran with it.

The competition was fierce (between the kids too). Mothers sat glaring at any other whose daughter was considered a threat.

We had learnt a little dance called The Butterfly.  It was a light, happy little fluttery piece. You had to try to catch an invisible creature performing little jumps and turns, twists and poses. Positions. At the end you caught the butterfly between your cupped hands, smiled at it beautifically and set it free. Well, that is what all the others did whilst holding leg straight, toe pointed, fixed in position. My beautiful mother sat serenely waiting as I was the last to perform.

I executed it perfectly, not an error, broad smile splitting my face, but in my unique junior Madmother fashion I decided to add a bit to liven it up. Jump, twist, catch, release smile. Hold position... music ceases. I then do another small series of leaps chasing the invisible insect once more, but as I grab it in my palms I crush the pretend butterfly. Look aghast, open hands, change look to disgust, shake and wipe remnants of invisible bug on tutu.

Class in hysterics, a gaggle of giggling girls. Teacher frowning. Other mothers horrified. And my tall, elegant mother standing, clapping madly. Oh, she loved me. Always. Unconditionally.

I quit ballet the next year. I came second and that just wasn't acceptable to six year old me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Here It Is - My Farewell to My Mother

I have spent the last few days wondering how on earth to do this incredible, awe-inspiring woman justice in a few short lines? How do I describe the woman who loved and supported my family and me unconditionally to those some of whom had never had the joy of meeting her? And I realised the only way was to treat this as if I was sitting in a room full of friends talking about her, because in reality, although this is a church and her earthly farewell, I am in a roomful of friends.

My mother, M, was born in an era where women were seen but not heard, their role to run the household quietly whilst also being the hidden backbone of the family. Softly spoken and genteel, she lived long in the shadows of those happier in the limelight. At the time of my rather outspoken, incredibly outside the square Grandmother’s passing, my mother turned to me and said “I have always been dominated and overshadowed by my mother; I was always Mrs D’s daughter. Now I can be my own person and I only have to put up with being told what to do by you.” That being said, my mother was one of only two people in this world who could silence me with a look, the other being that man sitting there. Anytime I stepped outside her boundaries I was told in no uncertain terms: “You may be an adult but you are still my daughter and you will behave as such!” She once smacked me on my upper arm with a fair amount of force, hard enough to leave welts, because I had slipped and uttered a profanity in front of her. At the same time, she also threatened to wash out my mouth with soap. I was in my thirties.

When people first met my mother they were always surprised to realise inside the tiny, fragile outer package was a core of remarkable inner strength. For those of us close to her this strength was inspirational. Quite a few people underestimated her intellect and confused her ladylike demeanour and good manners with weakness or vulnerability. Many a businessman has been left in awe, shaking his head and muttering: “How did she?” as she manoeuvred her way around any obstacles thrown in her path, all the while maintaining her decorum. At nearly 91 she still used excel spreadsheets to organise her financial matters, a fact that made her a legend in the long-term relationship with her accountants. I remember the principal in the firm telling me many decades earlier how he used to hold her up to the many younger businesspeople walking in with shoeboxes of receipts. He would tell them “I have a client in her late 70’s that sends me her receipts attached to spreadsheet summaries! If she can do it why can’t you?” Of course, the impact of her resourcefulness increased as she grew older. She topped it off a couple of years ago by making me bring in her tax return to sign in the hospital the night before a procedure just in case the anaesthetic made her mind go funny.

The other thing about Mum many people missed was her wicked sense of humour. My mother and I spent much of our time giggling uncontrollably whilst others looked on totally lost. I think a lot of people wrote us off as slightly mad. On one occasion, Mum and I were in David Jones at Bondi Junction, in the shoe department. We were admiring a pair of highly priced stilettos (it was the 80’s) artfully displayed within a cubic glass case, not touching the case, not even breathing on the case. Plop. One shoe fell off the small holder. We looked at each other chuckled. Plop, the second shoe dropped. By this time we were laughing and had drawn attention of the disapproving staff. We scurried away giggling only to end up in a worse situation when a clearance table full of handbags decided it was time to run. One dropped off the edge, then the next and the next just like a set of dominos. We could barely walk, we certainly could not catch our breath and the stern frowns of the employees only made things worse. We dragged each other out of the store to collapse on a bench in the centre. I think it took us quite a while to be able to return to the car.

I could tell you so many things. The hours she patiently spent sitting in the sandpit with me as a child. The wonderful meals she cooked, the glorious cakes she baked not only for her children but also for the children from the local orphanage on each of their birthdays. I recall one such cake - it may have even been the first one she volunteered for after completing a cake decorating course - it was a circus theme with icing elephants all around the edge. I was not allowed to touch, but the minute her back was turned I snuck one elephant off a corner. The next time she turned away, I snuck another from the other corner. I repeated it twice more, coming unstuck on the fourth and final elephant. She was furious, demanding to know why I would not only take one BUT four elephants? “But Mum, I had to even it up for you”, I explained. I still remember her lips starting to twitch as she tried her best to stay mad. I also remember going to bed without tea that night, until she snuck in some vegemite sandwiches later. That was my mother all over, punish me but worry about my needs as well.

I could share with you her terrible grief at the loss of my sister, and her amazing strength in going on in life, mainly for me. She was sharp of wit, dry of humour, incredibly smart and truly beautiful inside and out. My mother loved all of us without boundaries. She accepted my children quirks and all, was so very proud of her boys. She leaves a huge hole in our lives but we are grateful to know she left on her terms at her time. Six years ago upon leaving her Taree home of 52 years to move up to Eagle Heights she said to me: “I am coming up to die.” A few months later, when her health had improved, I told her: “You didn’t come up to die Mum, you came up to live.” We had six years of fun and time together, albeit with a few health hiccups along the way. She loved this mountain so much she chose to spend the rest of eternity up here, leaving Dad plenty of room to stretch in his double granite plot.

I am so grateful to have been the child of such a woman it takes my breath away and leaves me speechless. So once again, this time without the look, she has silenced me.

I will leave you with the words of an unknown poet:

When I am no longer with you
Let no tears fall or sorrow prevail
When you see your reflection shimmer in the water
Smile and know that I see your smile
When you feel the cool grass beneath your feet
And the sun's warmth upon your back
Know that I feel it also
And when you hear the leaves rustling in the wind
Know it is my voice softly whispering to you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Eulogy

I have been struggling terribly, procrastinating and putting it at the bottom of my list but this morning I have no choice. I have to write her eulogy.

A lovely friend (whose blog is private, so I will not post a link) has given me the start. She posted a poem for me on her blog and I am taking the beginning to start the eulogy with. Thanks Sal - you have no idea how much this means and has helped:

And I am no longer with you
Let no tears fall or sorrow prevail
When you see your reflection shimmer in the water
Smile and know that I see your smile
When you feel the cool grass beneath your feet
And the sun's warmth upon your back
Know that I feel it also
When you hear the leaves rustling in the wind
Know it is my voice softly whispering to you

And so now I am going to go off into a corner, and sit and try to bring to life a wonderful woman for many who have never had the joy of meeting her, and only know her through my words. I am blessed to have so many beautiful souls in my life who are attending to support me, and because they feel they know her via myself and the boys. Some family is flying in but most are elderly and frail themselves, as are her old friends from our home town. But I have had long, lovely phone conversations with many and know we are in their hearts and prayers.

I must admit the only thing that has disappointed me is the resonant silence from one who proclaimed to be a friend. But I guess this is the time that people's true colours are revealed and I am better off knowing.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I am an orphan. Today I am planning my mother's funeral. Today I face life in a very new and scary world without my biggest support.

We lost her at 3.30am 21/10/10. Like everything, she chose her own way to leave the world, and her own time. The doctors' thought it would be days and I stupidly went home late the night before planning on returning before sun-up in the morning. But she beat me to it. At 4am another of those dreadful calls came through, and as soon as it woke me I knew.

She was quite coherent until the end, had made her wishes more than clear. Tired, in pain, and finished with life. Gave the doctors strict instructions on a DNR. Expressed her gratitude to me for not denying her the right to choose death. Yesterday a dear friend reminded me: "Just like your grandmother chose to leave." And she was right. Strong stock these Madmother women.

Wise Woman asked to say goodbye to Boy 1 and Boy 2, which was another reason I chose to leave. Even though she had been in hospital nearly two months they honestly thought Nanna would bounce back, after all she always had in their lifetime. They cried, told her they loved her, thanked her for being there and everything she had ever done for them. She left them in no doubt as to how she felt about them, they had given her reason to breathe for the last decade or so, without them she may well have chosen this path earlier believing her work to be done.

"But why is she dying? what is she dying of?" Boy 2 cried. How do you explain to an 11 year old about choosing death. As bright as he is the choice was simple: you love me, why leave me?

I spoke to him as clearly as I could get my mind around it (and I must admit there was a little girl inside me screaming the same thing)... "Nanna is frail, the pain is too much and her tired body is worn out. She has lived a wonderful, happy life and does not want the end of her life to be full of misery and anguish. It is her choice and as WE love her we need to let her know it is okay and we understand."

Driving home from the hospital, after much thought he states: "I am really sad, but inside me is a little part rejoicing for her."  God, these children, they amaze me and give me strength to go on.
Boy 1 was quiet, tears silently rolling down his cheeks. Once home he asked me: "How do I go on without someone who has helped me all my life. How do I get used to her not being there?" I could not answer straight away for I too feel the same.
I must face life without her, knowing that the one person who saw me warts and all, who loved me no matter what, and who was my biggest safety net when I fell, is gone. Not in my heart but in my physical world. No more can I ring her to laugh over something, no more can I seek her wise counsel when the angry world confuses me. No more can I drop in unannounced, giving her last minute warning with a "tooot toooot" at the door.

I am hurting, and yet grateful. To have had Wise Woman in my life for so long is an incredible blessing. To be raised by such a woman, well, words fail me.

Mum, I love you, I will always love you and hold you in my heart. I promise to do you proud.

Wise Woman
5/10/1919 - 21/10/2010

daughter of an incredible woman.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tonight Things are Bleak

They operated last night. Put a huge screw through the top of Wise Woman's left femur to piece it back together. She was in ICU last night and most of today, but they have put her back in the ward late this afternoon.

Five minutes ago they rang. The specialist. Wanted to have the talk. The we don't think it is likely but just in case do you want a do not resuscitate order on? The you know how frail she is at the moment and anything could happen and we don't want to call you in the midst of the night, do we... conversation.

I love her. I love her so much, she is my mum. And I love her enough to let her go if that is the way it has to be, to give her permission to lay down her gauntlet and leave the battle.

But fuck it hurts.

And I am scared.

What do I do when the only person who can make me better is the one I need to let go?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The One I Didn't Want to Write: Or the Second Worst Thing...

The phone broke the silence at 1.30 this morning. It is the sound you dread in the early hours of the morning when someone you love is at risk. We were bringing Wise Woman home today. Yes, she was frail. Yes, we had big battles ahead. But we were ready.

And at 1.30am the worst living issue we could face came roaring into reality. She had fallen. At first the garbled message led me to believe she had broken her leg and her kneecap. Jumped in the shower (because I needed to), jumped in the car and DROVE like hell. It is an hour to the hospital and I know the road inside out after seven weeks of daily driving. Once there I tracked her through the hospital from rehab to emergency to ward. And found my fragile, tiny mother swaddled in blankets, scared, in pain, vulnerable. With a fractured hip. Our worst living nightmare due to the state of her bones.

This time I cannot rant and scream at THEM. This time it was a foolish choice by her to pick up something because of her dignity, to put herself at risk due to her pride, to lose the gamble so tragically. I understand why, I know the what for's, as angry as I was at first it has now drizzled down to sadness and compassion.

In the wee hours of first light I sat in my car and sobbed. People walked past watching, understanding, for where else but the carpark of a hospital would we cry so freely? Then I did what she has always taught me. Suck it up, get on with it. WW has always had the belief where there is life there is hope, where there is hope there is no excuse to chuck in the towel. Plenty of time for tears when the battle is lost, never when there is a lull in the gunfire whilst the enemy reloads.

And so I am loaded back up. Placing one foot in front of the other and remembering to breathe. Most of the time. Kick me when I forget. Please.