What’s that saying about best laid plans? I can’t think of the wording right now, but I know it applies here. I entered December full of good intentions to participate in Blogmas, and managed to keep up for a whole 6 days until life threw a curve ball my way.
My dear mum was admitted to hospital at the beginning of December with acute kidney injury. She was improving slowly in the high dependency unit, but in the middle of the night she complained of a horrendous headache; she lost consciousness and was placed on a ventilator. She had had a massive bleed on the brain, and there was nothing they could do to help her. She was given every chance to fight it, but sadly the pressure in her brain caused by the blood was too much for her, and she died soon after the ventilator was turned off on 10 December.
My mum was an amazingly strong woman. Her life had been one of excitement and adventure, filled with love and laughs, but she had also been through much heartbreak and sorrow. My dad died when I was 10, leaving my mum to bring up two unruly teenage boys and me alone. She had a lot of help from her brother, my uncle Brian (more of him later …) and she always did her best for us, standing by us and supporting us no matter what. She battled many illnesses, surviving a quadruple and a triple heart bypass, almost losing her leg due to a DVT, breast cancer and fibrosis of the lung due to asbestos exposure (my dad worked with asbestos, something which claimed his life when he was quite young). She battled all of these illness with good humour. She was fun to be around, always ready to laugh. She loved a party and the week before she died we had a lovely lunch party with the Amarula Ladies, a small group of my friends and hers from South Africa. She was by no means perfect. She was an infamous straight talker, known to upset family members with her unflinching opinions and beliefs. She was impatient and prone to sulking when she didn’t get her own way (thanks Mum, I’ve inherited both those traits!). But most of all she was fun, funny, fiercely independent and always supportive of her children and loved her grandchildren more than anything in the world.
There is a big hole in the lives of many today. Every day something will happen and I’ll think for a fleeting second “I must tell Mum about that”, even going to pick up my phone to send her a text. And then I’ll remember that she’s not here any more. Sometimes I’ll think “I haven’t heard from Mum today, I must text her” and then remember why. She used to come round for dinner most Sundays, and now there is a big gap where she used to sit on the sofa. They say that time heals, and this is true – I am no longer in floods of tears every day, and it felt like a huge milestone when I’d made it through one whole week without crying, but the hole in our lives will never be filled. We are lucky to have so many good memories of her …………
As if this heartbreak wasn’t enough, my wonderful uncle Brian passed away very recently too, 6 weeks after my mum. My uncle was one of the best humans ever to have walked this planet. He acted like a second father to me when my dad died, treating me like his own daughter. He presented me to the Mayor of Durban at my Debs Ball and gave me away at my wedding, giving an amazing speech that left not a dry eye in the room! He was such a positive, caring and compassionate man, always looking for the good in people and believing in them, even when they were showing him their worst. He knew he was dying (also due to asbestos related lung cancer – asbestos is a bastard) and he was content that he had lived a great life and had done everything he had wanted to do. He ran the Comrades Marathon in South Africa many times and trekked to Everest base camp. When my cousin Gill and I were about 8 and 7, we were somehow allowed to watch Poltergeist – scary enough in itself. But that night when we went to bed, uncle Brian crept into our bedroom wearing a sheet; he had a welding mask on under the sheet and lit this up with a torch from underneath. Gill and I were absolutely terrified, scarred for life. My aunt Dae was absolutely livid with him! It is quite funny now, although I have never been able to watch Poltergeist again!
it is so tempting right now to sit back and wallow in self pity and sadness. But my mum and uncle Brian would be very cross if I did that. They were both so proud of every achievement I made, no matter how small, always encouraging me to set forth on new ventures with gusto. Both were avid readers of any blog post I ever wrote (I’ve had a few different blogs over the years) and they were always encouraging me to write more, uncle Brian in particular used to tell me to try to have something published. While being published is not something I’ve ever really dreamed of, I have decided to keep writing through this blog, and hope that they would both be proud.
So please forgive the break in proceedings. Normal service will be resumed.