A New Day

Hi All,

Both Steve and I have spent the last day and a half since we found out that my mum died alternately crying and laughing out loud about her antics. She was a very shy person who covered up this shyness and awkwardness with others by talking WAY too much. She hated silence unless she knew you well. Mum discovered the internet after Steve and I met online and it actually worked! Something good came from this uncomprehensible technology that suddenly gave a shy girl from White Gum Valley her chance to find out everything that she wanted to find out about the world and a new and most exciting way to stay in touch with anyone who meant anything to mum. She had a massive heart and ultimately it was this heart that gave out in the end. My solace about mum dying so very quickly and most unexpectedly is that she died a most enviable death. Mum was always a battler and never had any money. She taught us the most frugal of lessons and how to survive in this cutthroat world when you are not able to deal with people or conflict. She carried on regardless…working her way through crisis, fear and anything else that threatened her small world and always came out like a bulldozer on the other side. She came here at Christmas, overtook us like an avalanche did exactly what she wanted to do and despite our bewilderment (and a little resentment as I am being honest this year…) she had “the best Christmas ever”. Now we know it was her last Christmas ever, it becomes so much more important that she did exactly what she wanted to do.

Mum went home to her little unit in Western Australia where she celebrated New Years in her own unique fashion, most probably listening to Mario Lanza and the Platters on her beloved computer via YouTube (thankyou technology for enriching mum’s life). She phoned us up the next day and wished us a happy New Year. She pottered about in her garden, she got back into the swing of her life but there was a new zest there, a new excitement about possibilities that here visit here injected into her emails. She made the scotch eggs that we had over here, she made mini pizzas and thoroughly enjoyed them. She was invigorated, enlivened and happy. On January 6th she read both of our blogs. Steve’s post of “If I only had a brain” in relation to the Wizard of Oz and regarding his whipper snipping of the 1st paddock behind the house and my post about ripping up our carpet on Serendipity Farm. She replied with gusto and alway sharing her thoughts and what we could do. She posted at 10.59 and I have the immortal proof in her last post. She went down town and did what she had to do. It was pension day and she took out her money for her bills and for what she had to do. I know she was off to get some sort of potting mix, mulch etc. as that is what she usually did. Each fortnight was another little bit to achieve in her garden. She didn’t like the crowds of tourists that engulfed her sleepy little town on the school holidays and tended to race down, do her bit and get home to the solace of her little unit. She would have sat down at her table, made a cuppa in the French glass mug that I gave her at Christmas time (which she promptly put her teeth into…) and after she finished her cuppa she had her usual “little noddy” at the table and that is where my brother found her. I only hope that God gives me the same courtesy when it is time for me to go wherever it is that our soul goes when we die. What a beautiful death. In her house, surrounded by pictures of everyone that she loved and that loved her, after a nice cup of tea and in the middle of a lovely little nap. This is what gives me the greatest salve for the pain that keeps trying to engulf me. What a way to go mum, God finally gave you something easy in your life

On the Friday that she died I didn’t send her an email. It was the very first time in about 5 years (since we moved here) that she didn’t get her regular weekly email from me, full of information about the house and about us. It is the most bittersweet thing that hits me now as I type this. The blog had taken over and I no longer had anything to put into my emails so it was a joint decision (only the Friday before) that she would have the blog as her “daily email” rather than what my somewhat pathetic email had become. What a cruel irony that I didn’t even give her the outreach of my words on the day that she died. All for her and something that she treasured. I didn’t keep most of mum’s emails. They got cleared out along with everything else in the unending need to “make space”. How could I know how much her fumbled typing and little hints and tips would suddenly become like gold to me? Mum’s clumsy hugs and awkwardness with others seemed to echo her life. She spent most of it being overrun by other people being left damaged in their wake on their own selfish personal journeys. She always picked herself up, dusted herself off and got right back onto that most painful of horses, her life journey. This was echoed in her dealings with the internet. She was in regular contact with so many people and her polite and most correct way of speaking in emails belied her huge heart and need to show how much she cared to everyone that she loved. She was intensely private and obtusely verbose all at the same time. My mum was a conundrum and so very difficult to understand or deal with sometimes and that was even for those of us who she nurtured and allowed into her inner circle of trust. Once you were in there, there was nothing that you could do to get out of that circle. She was one of lifes battlers but she never let you go. Her hugs and her love encompassed the world. She would get deeply hurt by something that you wouldn’t even think was possible but would remain stoic when everyone else was falling apart. I never really understood you mum, but I eventully understood where you were coming from. Being a parent does that to you. Having your children, your flesh and blood, slowly grow apart from you and no longer need you in their lives as numero uno (especially when you have raised them all by yourself and despite your inability to manage to stand up for yourself, your furious love and pride for your kids always shone through no matter how embarassing). Having to watch them grow and suffer love lost and everything that life throws at you and wanting to shield them from the worst of it with your own experience even though you have NO idea how to tell them how.

I had an experience where I was visiting my dad when he told me something in a drunken haze (he could only talk openly and honestly when he was half cut) that explained so very much about my mum. It is not for me to share this information with you, as my mum never shared it with anyone including any of her children so it was something she couldn’t have possibly dealt with. Needless to say, my dad gave me a precious gift that day without even realising it. He gave me understanding for why my mum was the way that she was. Up until that point, about 7 years ago, I had held an internal seething resentment for why my mother was unable to share a “mother daughter” relationship with me. I, unlike almost all of my family on both sides, have an unerring need to be open and honest about life, living and everything that happens in between. I don’t know where this came from, but I am an anomally in my family. The heirophant who tells the stories. The remainder (of those who are left) are prickly customers. No one talks openly about anything. Everything was, and still is in most cases, to be kept at arms length and even if you were someones child, that didn’t entitle you to knowing anything about them or your own personal history. This information that my dad gave to me (and regretted most bitterly when I confronted him with it the next day but admitted was true) gave me the clearest insight into my mothers human condition and a precious chance to forgive her for her perceived shortcomings, and allow her to just be her. I thank God to this day that my drunken father gave her this gift. God only knows he didn’t give her much else apart from us. I could be the daughter that she needed me to be and as an adult, it allowed me the understanding to give her what she needed from me.

Thank God she was my mum. I may have underestimated her worth in my life, but where once she clung tight to our every contact, making me feel somewhat stiffled at times, she is now deep in my heart. Closer than even she could hope for. Each day she will burn deeper and brighter in what we do here on Serendipity Farm and all of those little hints, tips and idosincracies that made up my infuriating, passionate, shy, awkward, embarassing, all encompassing mother will become part of everything that we do here. I won’t let your memory die mum. What you wanted when you were alive, I am now free to give you now that you are no longer with us and give it I shall. I am going to write your beautiful, humble story of stoic refusal to give up in the face of terrifying odds. I will share what you gave to me, and how you gave it all woven into your little garden and your frugality. I will send this tiny opus of your undying love and the little spark of humanity that was “you” to Anne at “The Micro Gardener” blog and you will be forever placed in horticultural ether for so very many people to read about, take note of and learn. Thankyou for being who you were mum. I no longer care that you were not the most conventional mother. All I can see is how much you loved me and how steadfastly you gave me that love. I will never ever forget you and as time burns off the crunchy  bits of our relationship, like my friend Kym, who also lost her own enigma of a mum some time ago, I will remember you.


Margaret Stahl-Blackwood I will remember you. You had done everything that God put you here on this earth to do. You had fiercly and defiantly raised your children to where you could stop worrying about them. Each one of us was “set up” where you could bear to let go of that worry. You saw first hand that we were all ok. Your garden was sorted, you had the best Christmas, you shared with all of us and then, when God called your name, you could turn around, take a long hard look at what you were leaving behind, and say “It is finished”. A job well done mum, and your love will go on forever echoed in the hearts of all of us that you left behind. It’s raining for you today. The sky is crying but tomorrow the world will go on and so will we. Thankyou for everything that you were and are and if you are able, in some miraculous way, to know how we feel, you will know that everything you ever hoped for is reflected in our hearts.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pinky
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 09:41:52

    I’ll try and get a few nice photos today Fronkii of Mums beautiful garden. She must have cleared it of weeds like a dervish that morning or the day before. Everything is so green and lush. I like to think she’s in heaven now with a cuppa in one hand and a pair of secataurs in the other just neatening things up for God and the angels.


    • narf77
      Jan 08, 2012 @ 10:08:17

      Please do Pinky, take way more than you think you need to because I have been asked to do a story about mum and I will need to document it with pictures. Thats your part of mums story, to do justice to her garden. Feel free to take some pictures with her camera as well. She would have loved that :o). See you on tuesday night :o)


  2. Roz Takes
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 10:40:23

    A wonderful eulogy for your Mother!
    My love to you, Steve, Stewart, Madeline and Bethany on your sad loss.
    I had been away for a few weeks and only returned to reading your Blog this morning. I am still wiping up tears.
    My favourite memories of your Mother are of sitting in her kitchen while she plied us with wonderful foods. I still use her recipe for Lasagne given me years ago.
    A special hug from a one time “other mother”.


  3. Pinky
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 11:16:17

    Sure thing Fronkii. She left the garden in amazing shape probably to her detriment. As much as I can document today I will. While the weather is nice and cool. It hasn’t stopped raining or blowing since she died which is so ironic as all she was after was some rain and a cool breeze.


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