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Mama Mia

Bev Murrill, Contributing Writer

lost my mum last year. When I write that line, it seems funny in a macabre sort of way. I want to follow it by writing ďhow careless of you; can you remember where you left her?Ē

Actually, I did leave her. I left her in Australia when I moved to the UK with my two youngest children, leaving my older son and daughter behind, along with my dear mum and a host of friends. It wasnít easy to leave them, but we understood that we were coming into a new season and leaving the people and land we loved was part of the deal.

She came often to visit; in the end, it was most years. It seemed like she would walk in from Heathrow and plug in the iron, doing battle with the mountains of clothes that seemed to pile up in the washing baskets awaiting her return. When she left again, almost the last thing she did was turn the iron off before she said her goodbyes and got into the car for the return trip. During the months that she stayed with us each year, the house rang to her tuneful whistle (an artform I never have managed to master), and her servant heart found plenty to occupy her as she worked tirelessly behind the scenes facilitating the work that I do.

My mum was a delight; everyoneís friend, she had the happy knack of making every person feel comfortable and important. Her friendships were many and varied and her exploits were the stuff of legends, especially among her peers. What other 70-year-old lady goes white water rafting down the same stretch of river that killed other pleasure seekers not long before. Mum would do anything she put her mind to; her intrepid adventuring delighted and horrified her many admirers and she was never, never bored or boring.

She died in the way she lived, without putting any pressure on anyone. One day she rang to say she was not well and was going for a check up and a few days later she had died peacefully, singing herself into that long sleep from which she will not awaken in this life.

It was all over so quickly; too quickly for me to get out there to say goodbye. By this time all my children were living in England, and they and their spouses gathered in my home on the day she died and cried and talked and laughed and prayed through the day, comforting ourselves with the memories of a woman who was unique among grandmothers.

My mum wasnít perfect, and like the rest of us, she had made mistakes as a parent and grandparent, but the thing that made her unique was her great gift of the ability to give unconditional love to the people she cared for. Every one of my children has story after story of the way she showed them how special they were. (Itís a challenge isnít it!)

With my motherís passing, the last of our parents are gone. Rick and I are now the most senior members of our growing family. Thereís something funny that happens to a person when their last parent dies; itís as though you suddenly become the older generation. However you saw yourself before, now you know more keenly that life is short and time is precious.

Losing my mum has done some specific things in me. It has made me want to be someone that my children, children in law, and grandchildren can relate with and to. I want to be sure they know that whatever they do in their lives, I will be there for them without judging or criticising, but accepting, loving and encouraging them. I donít want them to dread my visits because all I see is what they havenít done or how they ought to be. I donít want them to have to live in defence mode when Iím around. I want them to enjoy me and I want them to know that I enjoy who they are also. They are all so different from me and from each other, but each carries something within them that is so strong and lovely that I canít help but be carried away with love and admiration for each of them, and this includes the ones who have married into our family, who fit our family like a hand in a glove.

The other thing that has been reinforced in me is that I want my life to count. I donít want to spend my life in regret that I didnít do what I could have done or grieving over things I canít change. Life is for living and living is more fun when God is involved.

Regardless of how long a person lives, the years available to each of us are finite; itís vital that we make the choice to spend them wisely. The days, months and years of our lives are like money and we can only spend them once. Once the day is gone, it is gone forever. Spend it carefully, whatever you do.


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