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May 2019
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2005-03-01 Most women have the ability to be a mother but not all can be a mum

"I am fooling only myself when I say that my mother exists only in the photograph, or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives on in everything I do.


Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am." (Hope Edelman).
As Mothers Day comes around again, I realise my mum will always be a huge part of me. Our mothers physically carry us and keep us alive for nine months, give birth to us, feed us, and care for us. A baby loves and trusts its mother with its entire being. My mothers own mother died when mum was just a little girl, and I am certain mum learned by the good example of her own mother, and by the bad example of the stepmother who took over with a rod of iron afterwards.
When something bad happened me at school, or when I fell in the back-yard, it was my mum I would run to for comfort and support. Mums laughter and smile restored the warmth inside me, her hugs went right through me. She made our house a home, not so much by material things, but by her presence, warmth, humour and strength.

As I grew up, I could feel my mother hoping for me, setting goals, as she had set goals for herself years before. Teaching was a vocation for my mother: motherhood was her calling. Her family was always her first priority. Mums bluntness and honesty encouraged us to always try harder. She praised everything that deserved praise, from tying shoelaces, to tidying bedrooms, to achieving good grades or competition success.
My most vivid memories of growing up in Cartron seem linked to relaxing in the sitting room, to cooking and eating in the kitchen, to family holiday fun, to being cared for in my sick bed. Even such embarassing moments such as having your face cleaned in public by a self-wetted handkerchief now bring a smile to the face. And then a tear.
At mealtimes, my mother never took an extra portion herself, but always gave us extra. Even when her delicious caramel squares lasted only a day or so, she was outwardly shocked, but inwardly flattered. When we repeated a risqué joke from the school playground, my mother would always react with a sort of mock-disapproval, and a naughty smile.
When the time came for her to let go, and let me lead my own life, it was as though mum had a built-in worry mechanism, as she phoned regularly to check up and see how I was doing.
When she wrote she proudly wrote to James Nelson B.A. B.Mus (Hons)  my full title  ever the proud mum. My mothers gifts to me were insight, belief, guidance, encouragement, inner-strength and unconditional love.
I was inspired by the way she had overcome hardship growing up, how she had later overcome illness, adversity and other obstacles. My mother seemed prone to accidents and illness. I will never understand how one so good was at times given such a raw deal  gall bladder problems, a slipped disc, a car crash, broken collar-bone, broken leg, eye cataracts, deafness, a stroke, and finally cancer.

Throughout it all, her bravery and dignity was inspiring. I am certain she knew how ill she was for a long time, but was the protective mother at all times. It was when mum was at her most sick, I squeezed her hand and told her I loved her  I am so glad I did that. Most women can be mothers, but not all can be a mum. Whenever something happens in my life, I still have a sort of reflex telling me
to phone home and tell mum.
My mother is always with me, and I hope always will be, even into the hereafter, wherever that may be.
I believe that every old person in a retirement home is basically a child, still missing their mum. Mum is in everything I do, in everything I see, in my heart, my memory and my dreams.
As Mothers Day is once again around the corner  the third one without Frieda  even though I no longer have the physical presence of my mum in my life, I am pretty sure she is very much part of who I am and what I do.