Family,  Relationships

I miss my mum

I wish I could switch my phone off. And I mean off. Not on silent or vibrate. Power off. I even asked my boss for special permission to hang my phone on a lanyard around my neck during work times and to take calls when they came in. Phone at the ready I was always waiting for bad news. Specifically for a call from my mother telling me she needed help, or potentially the dreaded call from the staff at the nursing home where Mum resided for the final years of her life. She was 58 where she died, hardly nursing home age.

I miss my mum dreadfully. It has been just over two years since she passed. I tell countless people that it is not the anniversaries that are hard. It’s the everyday, those moments that can catch you unawares. That’s the hard part. One moment you’re eating a packet of Smith’s Crinkle Cut Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips and the next, you’re in bed for two days without showering. It’s the times where you look down at your own daughter, wondering what the hell you are supposed to do without having your own mother to ask questions. It’s that time when I was in a hospital bed and the consulting doctor flippantly says, “It’s okay, you should talk to your mother about your worries”. It’s when you’re watching something on TV and you’re confronted with the classic ‘Hollywood Trope’ where mourners stand by their loved ones graveside with black umbrellas in the rain. And yet I loved my mother’s funeral. It was one of the last times where life was all about her and we got to openly talk about her and how damn great she was, without friend’s awkwardly biting their tongues and changing the subject as soon as there is a break in mourning or them spitting out some pithy quote that may have come from the Bible or some other book of inspiration.

What I most miss about my mum was her wisdom. Gee, I need some of that right now and every day. I had a bitter sweet relationship with her matter of fact statements. She would tell it like it was. Not stuff that didn’t matter. But stuff that did. Her remarks stung, but the sting would be taken away by the potential growth that it brought. And because of her no bullshit attitude, it also meant that when she gave you a compliment, it was not a wishy washy, fluffy nicety. When she said it, she genuinely must have meant it. When I applied for jobs over $100,000 when I was inexperienced and in my 20s, she would reply, “You know what, you’ll probably get it”. Having Mum on your side meant the world, because most of the time she was right on the money.

My mum was the biggest fan of my husband. Mum trusted my husband’s love for me before I trusted it myself. She was his biggest advocate. Sure, she wanted him to get a job and go to church. She would tell him that upfront. But she would also recommend to me strongly to stay with him when I wavered. To realise the gold that I had.  And to stop being so stupid and immature. She was right. It took me almost six years to learn that myself (that’s a story in itself).

I’m trying to pick the best bits about my mum and communicate that to you. But it’s kinda like you had to be there. You had to be with her. You had to see her to believe her. And now she’s gone. And photos of her and her handwritten old cards and her clothes are just not enough. There’s no moral to the story. Every story ends. Good ones. Bad ones. Dreams. Nightmares. They all end. And we wake up. It’s time to wake up.

Elizabeth is a Mum to Grace, step-mum to Will, wife to Ricky. She is very changeable. Sometimes she'll identify herself as a social worker, other times as a writer or even as a Christian. She loves her town of Dubbo, New South Wales. Elizabeth studied a Bachelor of Social Work at Charles Sturt University.

4 Comments

  • Jess Cooper

    My gut punch moment was when our marriage celebrant assumed my dad was alive and I had to correct it on our marriage licence application.

    And you are so right about the opportunities to openly talk! I write down my memories in my phone so people don’t feel weird around me.

    Great writing Liz, I’m so sorry you have to do life without your mum. It’s sucks xx

    • Elizabeth Browne

      I appreciate that you commented. Yes Jess, it does suck. I’m sorry for the times we don’t talk about these important things, important people. I wish we could talk more about their significance. But in the moments of silence, at least we know.

  • Sally Shields

    I miss my Mum too. And I know what you mean about the everyday. I felt is also when my Dad died. There would be a piece of music on the radio or a pretty bird in the tree and you’d say, ” I must tell Mum about that……” Clunk. There it is again. Just a few tears. My roses are blooming at the moment. Now Mum was a great gardener (I am not) but when she died I was given The Children’s Rose. A lovely pink rose by the children of my Godmother. I have one in a vase on the kitchen window sill and I know she would love it. My Mum was so important to me especially when my boys were small. But then she went to Perth and my sister got to share her for 10 years. When she came back, the Dreaded Dementia had taken hold and my beautiful Mum was different. But it was still such an honour to spend time with her, holding her, talking with her and building new memories. Love you Mum. Thanks Libby,

    • Elizabeth Browne

      Thank you Sally for sharing this. The “clunks” are hard. It’s funny how some of our parents qualities are passed on to us (whilst others are not). Your rose sounds like a special gift that keeps giving in bloom. Although you may not have inherited her green thumb, I have a feeling that you both shared a common beauty (one that you offer generously to those around you). I’m sorry that the Dreaded Dementia was part of her story and yours. And there’s probably no significant “But” that I could say in response. Although I am glad that you still treasure each moment you were able to spend with her.

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