Friday, May 3, 2013

The Lightness of Being.

“Cheers mum” and we adult children raise our flutes high and toast our dear mother. After a passionate rendition of singing Happy Birthday, complete with hip-hoorays, her casket is wheeled to the waiting hearse; we watch as mum is taken for private cremation.

She wanted to make 93 and so she did, in her own way. After a horrific fall that saw her hospitalised since January - the third fall in as many years - we gave her a very pretty, symbolic, old ladies funeral: can’t ask for better. In fact, it was perfect.

Crystal bowls of her favourite chocolates for everyone to share, stunning posies of native flowers, old friends, familiar faces, a gentle priest and enough great-grandchildren to almost fill the small wooden church. Genuine tears to be sad at our loss, plenty more laughter to remind us that life does indeed go on, at a cracking pace too. Even champagne!

So how are we all coping?  Somehow I have changed. There is lightness now in my life. For the first time I have had to rely on myself.

Although dad has been gone for 9 years, I still miss his booming hello at the end of the phone line; and now there is no smiling mum asking me what my latest project involved. It’s just me now and I like it.  

I now sleep at night, not worrying about her latest injury. What did the doctor say?  Does she need to be moved to a Nursing Home? When was the last time her back was rubbed?   What needs to be done?  Her needs.   Gently caring for our elderly mother has been a loving blessing which was in danger of becoming a chore. And yet it never did. But still, now I can relax, and enjoy my life a little more. I was a good daughter; in fact we were all dutiful, obedient, caring children to our parents, returning the unconditional love shown to us. We not only did our best, but far and beyond that. And we happily exhausted ourselves.
Now, newly orphaned, there isn’t the distress I thought I would feel, only a calmness.

A lightness of being in my own skin, for the first time.

Like a modern day Gulliver, the family ties that gently wrapped loving arms around me, and gave me a stable, solid grounding; from tropical Cairns and Rockhampton, to Toowoomba and beyond to far flung Wollongong, have unravelled; as old age and death claimed the matriarchs, aunties and godmothers in my life. Three old girls dead in four weeks.  I drift through the days and nights, float through sleepless weeks, unweighted. The lightness both disturbs and comforts me, as I put into place life lessons learned from years of conversations and hands-on experience. I have to trust that I know enough. I need to believe that I can do this Living, without their voices on the end of the phone. Without loving arms surrounding me with joy. Without approval or judgement.

It has to be enough.

Now I am making my own decisions. Missing their opinions and helpful advice, yes, but gladly standing on my own two feet and looking forward to my own life, with confidence.

They say funerals are for the living, and it’s true. We created a memorable Service, which incorporated everything she wanted: The Lord’s Prayer. Traditional of course. Forever and ever, Amen.

The Magnificat. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

We gave mum what she wanted, and more. Now it’s our turn to live our lives with the same grace and integrity shown to us.

Living with such lightness, demands my feet be grounded. If I am ever in danger of floating away, my memories will form a rock steady base, and with both feet planted safely, my eyes look to my own horizon.

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