Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter without her. #atozchallenge Care for the Carers.

Two days after her 73rd birthday my Mum took her final breath. She had Alzheimers and Motor neurone disease. For her final 3 months I was her main carer. A privilege I am grateful for and will cherish forever. This years #atozchallenge theme will focus on being a carer / care-giver.

Remember to care for the carers.  


Easter without her.


November 1st is All Souls day. Last year I attended the international mass, held at the cemetery in a huge tent, with both my parents for the first and last time.  


That day I learned that Mum knew the words to the song 'Here I am Lord' by heart in English as well as Italian. Her soft soprano voice touched a chord in me.  

I didn't want either of my parents to see my tears so I turned my head towards the woman beside me as I fumbled through Mum's purse for a tissue. She starting chatting to me about the windy weather. Through silent tears I thanked her and reminded myself to carry a hanky from now on. 

A friend of Mum's was the organist at her local church and she volunteered to play at her funeral. The same church she was married in over 51 years ago. The organ player knew Mum well so I left the song choices up to her. She also offered to arrange two or three of the choir members to sing along with her. 

More than a dozen choir members showed up on the day. At least twice as many than are normally present for a regular Sunday mass. During the mass the priest said that he'd never seen or heard anything like it at a funeral before. My heart swelled. I smiled the entire day.

On our first Easter Sunday without Mum, the church was packed to the rafters. (Cliches are allowed when they're true - right? :)

The choir was larger than normal and during communion they sang 'Mum's song' in Italian, 'Sono qui signore,' just like they did at her funeral. 

I remembered, as soon as the organist played the first note, I forgot to pack one of Mum's hankies. I was wearing one of her scarves so I used that instead. She never did manage to mould me into a 'proper' lady. 

After the mass, Dad and I visited the cemetery and then spent the rest of the day celebrating Easter with two of Mum's God Daughters and their extended families.

The two separate families don't know each other, but each have huge holiday houses in the same seaside town. Lunch at the sister of one God Daughter, dinner with a sister of the other.

Our 3 families united across generations because of the love shared between our Mothers, through friendships forged and cemented over 50 years ago. 

On the long drive home Dad and I agreed our first Easter without Mum was a good one. For me, it was almost perfect. I know Mum would be glad she didn't have to climb all the stairs in those big houses.

I wondered if Dad, at almost 80, would even remember it the next day. I'm happy to keep reminding him for a long time.

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8 comments:

  1. My wife is a CNA and does private duty home health care. I meet all the clients she has been a care giver to over the years. Glad to see a post on this topic. The elderly are so precious and full of such knowledge and wisdom. Appreciate and love them while they are still with us.

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  2. Hi Ida - it's good to remember these times - they are sad, yet happy .. and your Dad will remember with your gentle telling. It does sound as though you had a lovely time with your cousins remember your mother and her life ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary, my God sisters are the closest things to cousins I had growing up, and they do feel like family.

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  3. I really couldn't have asked for a better day, Thanks Susan.

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  4. I'm glad you Easter went well. Are you saying your dad also has memory problems? Unusual for both partners to have it.

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  5. Im glad you have such great memories and friends/extended family. ..happy Easter .

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  6. First dates, holidays and such, seem to be the hardest- I've learned that as time as gone on.

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    1. I really don't want to believe that it gets harder, but a lot of people tell me this. I am just happy that our first was a good one... I'm comfortable with feeling sad when the emotion hits me, I've been wearing waterproof mascara for months now :)

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Feedback and your own stories are welcome.