The last time I spoke to my mother was on Mother’s Day 2007. My parents lived 2 hours drive away from me, so I wasn’t able to visit at the time but I called to wish her. I told her “I love you Ma”. Three days later she was gone. She had a heart attack in March and never fully recovered. I got the phone call at about nine in the evening. My Gillian was working in Holland and Melani and I got in the car and drove to the hospital. I remember it was storming – thunder and lightning and rain adding to my tears. It was if the skies shared my outpouring of grief and it took us almost three hours to get there. But I wanted to give my mother a last kiss. My dad and brothers and sister were waiting for me. It was the saddest day of my life.
I cannot think of a better example of love than my mother. Five children (today aged 61, 60, 59, 57, 56) and none of us ever had an argument with her. She would admonish us in her soft and loving manner and we would hug her and put our heads on her shoulder and feel warm and secure in her love for us. She made us breakfast in bed when we were still in school. Each child had his/her own bedroom and this one had cereal, that one had toast and coffee, the other one had oatmeal… many is the time that we heard a crashing noise from one of the bedrooms when a sleepy child accidentally knocked over the breakfast and she never shouted or got angry.
She loved her grandchildren and they loved their Ouma. Even when the Parkinsons Disease she suffered from (she was between stage 2 and 3) hampered her movements, she took her medication and with that initial surge of energy she’d run races with the kids (not too fast) on the beach where they lived, laughing all the time. I can see her still with her sandals in her hand and the big smile on her face.
Christmas was always special at my parents. My mother made hampers for each of her children filled with her baked rusks, jars of preserves, freshly baked bread (my sister and I both take after her when it comes to this). We all went to church on Christmas morning and then the daughters and daughters-in-law helped to cook the special meal. Laughter, love, beautiful music in the background. Memories of joy.
I miss her every day. I have pictures on the walls and she smiles at me as I walk through my house. Her love lives on in my heart.
I can only hope that I inspire such love and joy in my own children so that one day they can look back and say “Mother is another word for love”. Even though we’ve had our moments. Even though I know I cannot even come close to being the role model my mother was to me. Even though we’re so far apart at the moment. I live for their visits. I am thankful for technology and Facebook and Whatsapp’s free calls. It is part of my means of communication and for sharing my activities with my girls, letting them know that distance only matters to the mind, not the heart. Letting them know I am proud to be their mother and how much I love being their mother.