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.