This is Joan
She was a lefty
She was an incredible teacher
She liked to abbreviate, almost to the point of being compltly illgbl
She sang the lullaby “oranges and lemons” to my sister and I when we were going to sleep
She loved going out with friends for dinner, especially when she could use an entertainment card to receive 25% off
If it was a crime novel, she read it.
If it was a British show (about anything), she watched it
She cut out articles on travel, investing, and recipes out of newspapers and magazines
She loved her friends. and her family.
It is very difficult at times to understand that this person is gone. The person who was sick and bedridden? I can get that she’s gone. But it’s much harder to believe that the woman who made chocolate slab cakes and worked so hard for her family is gone.
The reality, however, is that they’re the same person.
The same person who struggled with cancer, who faced the sudden death of her husband, was the same woman who was gracious and generous with everyone who visited her in hospital, even when she was exhausted.
The same woman who loved going out to enjoy food was the same woman who, last year, closed her eyes whenever she tasted food or had coffee (or the occasional glass of wine) because it was one of the last things she could still enjoy during that time.
The truth is, I miss all of her. And it really sucks that she’s not here, that dad’s not here either, and as my sister and I approach years of (hopefully) families and kids, the thing that really hurts the most is that those kids won’t know who their grandparents were.
But there’s also a but.
This is not the massive-encompassing “BUT” that claims that everything is amazing and fantastic and grief- free. It’s a small one.
My sister, gorgeous photographer that she is, started taking photos to document times that we as a family spent together during those last months. That’s weird, right? Why document mum in that state? Without hair, with swollen face and limbs, in all that pain? Why force yourself to remember her like that?
Why? It was still mum.
Her eyes were the same. Her smile was the same. Her loving us the best way she knew how was the same. Despite the fear that she had of what was happening to her, despite her often denial of the reality we were all being faced with, it was still her.
When I look at those photos now, I am reminded of her pain, absolutely, but also of the power of grace during those times. I’m reminded of this bible verse that says
“God uses the foolish things in this world to shame the wise”.
The foolish thing is to think that mum was powerful during that time. She wasn’t in a lot of ways. In most ways, actually. She couldn’t walk, sit up, feed herself, or even hold a book to read it.
She spent time talking to her friends
She gave her time to a researcher who came to interview her, because she knew how much I appreciated when people gave me their time in my studies.
She gave a young nurse who was getting married some platters she didn’t need
She paid for a friend to have their house cleaned before they went overseas, just so she could spend some quality time with her own husband and daughter
She took the trip to meadows in an uncomfortable taxi so she could see her sister get married
Her sisters and sons in law learned much about her teaching life, and the incredible influence she was to many people at her school
Even in that state of ‘weakness’, she was powerful.
Even in that state of ‘foolishness’, god’s glory was powerful and prominent. And present.
And something I can’t ignore. That’s what I’m thankful for. And there’s the but in the day(s) where I mostly want to be sad.
Missing & loving you Mumsie, today and everyday. Hope you’re enjoying that plane ride….
“Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life…”