Today would have been my mother's 76th birthday.
Over the last few years her health had deteriorated slowly and medical science seemed unable to do anything to help her. By the beginning of this year she weighed 48 kgs despite her 5' 10 big boned Scandinavian frame. She suffered from a dodgy heart, dodgy blood pressure, dodgy lungs, weakened bones from previous falls and accidents, memory loss, confusion, hallucinations and a dose of Parkinsons to add at least one official medical term doctors could grapple with to the mess of bewildering syndromes she suffered from.
When on the 12th of February she fell on the kitchen floor on her way home from a doctor's visit, this was the final straw. She broke her hip, cracked her ribs and punctured her right lung. She was never to recover. She died in hospital just over a week ago on the 24th of February 2010 and was buried in Jobbles Wood on Sunday 7th March.
My mother was the most nurturing, loving and caring person. She was my safety and was my point of reference. She was an attentive ear and the warmest hug when I needed it, and a sharp word when I needed that. She was 'home' wherever I was and for quite a while after I left.
She had no strong rules or formalities that we had to live by, and yet imparted a strong moral sense - that eventually my brother and I seemed to soak up without even noticing. She was nurturing but also gave me a lot of freedom and independence. She made me feel trusted and confident, and gave me room to be me and grow. My friends' parents were sometimes quite taken aback with my lack of grooming and took on board themselves teaching me how to eat with the correct tilt of the bowl, and the correct way to sit and hold my knife and fork. My friend Sonia's mother used to brush my hair before she would let me out to play (I usually turned up with great big knots at the back of my head I couldn't be bothered to tease out). In fact, I missed out on being rebellious because I never felt I had anything to rebel against.
She was also a very individual mom and role model. For a start, most my life she was a foreigner and her ways were always her own, not like anyone else's. This meant I grew up never knowing that I had to be like anyone else, because it was a given I'd be different and it really didn't matter.
I feel very privileged and lucky that I had my children when my mother was still young and fit enough to be able to contribute with huge amounts of love and energy. She made me and my children feel that they were the most special and perfect children in the world.
My heart breaks every time I think of how oppressed she was by her many illnesses and ailments over the past few years. At times she was so tired of putting up a fight, she couldn't see the light. While she was in hospital she talked about the battle she waged against a silver army and that she just couldn't find the weapons to defeat them. But it encouraged me that she was still looking for them.
She was my first and ever enduring definition of unconditional love.
Right now it is hard to say what I will miss the most, as so many things remind me of her. I feel happy when I recognise elements of her in things that I do, and I hope I will continue to learn from her even though she has gone.
Thank you and farewell forever.