It is a week since mum’s fall.
One week since Nigella cooked on TV, quietly unaware of the horror unfolding for my sister on the other side of the screen. Seven days of my older sister beating herself up (it happened on her shift) although you couldn’t find a more loving, dedicated caring daughter.
- One 12 second chat: “Mum, stay there and watch Nigella, I’ll just go and heat dinner for us”;
- one two second fall (twisting her body so she didn’t re-break her left wrist *smart!)
- 20 minutes of my sister sobbing and crying and trying to help Mum to her feet, trying to help Mum stand, trying to get Mum off the bloody floor.
Calm down Carolyn, Mum says, in the authoritive voice she learnt in the war, as Signals Officer.
Take your time, it will be ok.
He has done it every year, for decades. He is a man of rountine and order. A school teacher. Driving home, Venus keeps her twinkling eye upon us, as the car turns into our street. We are home, bottles of wine are opened, pizzas are ordered, our growling tummies howl with anticipation of a meal.
So tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and the shops are full of mummy things: pyjamas, nighties, dressing gowns and so on. I buy my two sisters a bunch of Woolworths flowers: red roses for June (so they can travel the 700km back to Brisbane in the car) and pink tulips for Carolyn (I love to watch them gently droop as they grow one inch each day, so graceful). I hide a large box of Lindt dark chocolate in the pantry, behind the potatoes. Mum will receive yellow ‘Tulips in a Bucket!’ - like 'Snakes on a Plane!' - only tulips.
I walked my Rockhampton inspired 10,000 steps in the North Rockhampton Shopping Centre to buy the flowers. The shopping mecca is full of 14 year old boys preening their hair, carefully sculptured piles of dead protein sure to impress the chicks...middle aged women walk past me with both of their lower legs covered in tattoos. I’m sure you can get pantyhose that look like that?
I’m exhausted, but still appreciate watching dads with sons and young toddlers glean over catalogues to choose the right gift for their mother. It has to be right, they can’t stuff this up, the day is too important to them. They’re young. When they become older, when their body begin to change it’s scent and they feign carelessness as cool, Mother’s Day becomes less important. Never as important as their hair.
Later we Skype with brother John. My eldest sister and I clash, again. And again. It’s what we seem to do. We always have. We're both tired.
Carolyn, my other sister, is exhausted.
“Goodnight Sis, sleep well,” the old phrase not quite worn out from use. Within a minute my sister is back in the lounge room, crying, sobbing, her body shaking with grief.
“I just miss mum cleaning her teeth, it’s something we have done together, every night. I can’t stand the thought of her up there by herself.”
I hold her, it’s amazing how far my arms can stretch, I feel like Rubber Man. We embrace.
I tell her she is the most loving woman, the most patient, giving woman. It’s all true. It’s not a time to lie or embellish, it’s the simple truth. She really is.
We sob together.
Shhh. Shhh. Mum is in a good place. It’s her journey. We are witness to her life, what a ride!
I stroke her shoulders, and murmur.
‘Dad is with her. Dad is with her’. All will be well.
Tomorrow is morning service at the Cathedral, I haven’t been back for a service since we buried dad, so tomorrow is the day, before we go to see mum, to take our offerings of flowers and bed jackets and our love and concern, our family offerings of a life well lived and respected and appreciated. Tomorrow.
We have tonight to get through first.
Sleep well, God bless.
To be continued...