When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth. – Mitch Albom, For one more day
This week Mum would have turned 63. I think of her often now I am trying to raise a daughter of my own, but am particularly reflective this week and can’t help but think that others would be too.
There are her work colleagues, who constantly talk about her serenity. Her grace. Her quiet wisdom. They mimic her mannerisms and chuckle at the way she would just smile and say ‘hmm,mm’ whenever confronted with a, shall we say ‘different’ situation. They fondly remember the tools and processes and systems she put in place and worked so hard to institutionalise in their place of work and how they couldn’t imagine things being unlike that anymore. They proudly introduce myself and my sister to some of mum’s old students as Mrs Day’s daughters, as if we should be on pedestals. Because that’s where they put our Mum.
Then there are her students. When mum was still alive, she would avoid restaurants and eateries her students and their parents frequented. We only forced her to do it once. It was a nightmare. None of us were able to eat our food, there was a constant stream of students and parents (current and past!), coming over to see Mrs Day, just to shoot the breeze… to brag about what they’re up to now, to remind her who they were (she never needed reminding, she knew and remembered every single one of her kids) and to remind her just how important she was to them. They say a teacher touches a life forever- they’d be right. All these kids who she helped shape, who she encouraged, who she cared for, they will never forget her, just as we will never forget her.
There are her friends. The ones she drank coffee with – white, no sugar, I’m sweet enough, thank you. The ones she and dad did their road trips with – Wyndham, Kununurra, Esperance, Albany, Coober Pedy, Uluru… and everywhere in between. The ones she polished off bottles of wine with, went shopping with, saw shows with, daggy danced to Abba with. There are those she just sat with. The ones she counselled. The ones she laughed with – that booming, I-don’t-give-a-fuck laugh that could be heard miles away. That laugh that would have you looking for whatever it was she was laughing at so you could share the joy, if only just for a moment. And of course, the ones she cried with. When I happen to run into them now, they hug me as if I were one of their own, they are eager to share news and updates on how I’ve been. They are eager to hold onto the memories and they are eager to remember.
There are our friends. The people we grew up with who also have an almost lifetime of memories of our Mum. They’d come to our home and be as comfortable as if they were with their own family. They always knew if Leonie was picking them up, they’d be late, but they’d get there. They always knew they could rely on Kristi’s/Lisa’s/Melanie’s/Jeremy’s Mum to be there if they needed anything. They always knew they were welcome. They always knew they could talk to her about anything. They always knew she would never waiver, never falter. That she was strict, but fair. And as they grew into adults, they became her friends… not just because of us kids, but because they wanted to. They’ll let a ‘remember when your mum…’ slip and look at us to see if they’ve said something wrong, to get the green light to continue, and be relieved when they can share the memory, the story, the laughs, the tears.
There’s her brothers, her sisters in law, her nieces and nephews, who all have their own special stories of their sister, aunt, friend. Of the way she was a part of their every day. Of how they watched her grow, and how she watched them grow. Of how they wanted to be just like her. Of how they could never imagine their lives without her. Of how she taught them. Of how she loved them. Of how they loved her, regardless of the time or distance between them.
There’s her grandchildren – the little girl who wasn’t even two when her granny passed away, but who points to her photo and says, ‘That’s my grandma.’ The little girl who was in my tummy when mum passed away who points at her and says, ‘There she is’ when I ask where her grandma is amongst all the photos in our house. The little girls who will never know her, but will always have a part of her in their hearts. The little girls who will grow up hearing just how wonderful she was, soaking up all the stories everyone around them will delight in sharing.
And of course, there’s us. Her kids. The ones who have no words sometimes, but so many words at other times. The ones who want to talk about her and never stop. The ones who could think of no better person to call their mum. The ones who are still a teensy, weensy (OK, a hell of a lot) bitter that it was their Mum taken too soon. The ones whose stories are so many and so detailed that they sometimes worry they are forgetting things. The ones who will stop everything they are doing because something, somewhere has just reminded them of their Mum. The ones who have nothing but memories to carry in their hearts. The ones whose memories can’t be explained, really, because they are like sunshine bouncing off the ocean. They are like ice-cream dripping down your arm on a hot summer’s day. They are like laughter. They are like good wine.
They are like home.