My mum died twenty five years ago, though sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. But, despite the passage of time, I still feel the loss. The pain may not be as sharp, as deep, or as overwhelming as it once was, but it’s still there, not far below the surface. The loss endures.
My mum did not have an easy life. After she and my dad separated then divorced, she was a single parent bringing up two young boys. This was at a time when that status was far more unusual. It was hard, but she never complained. Instead, she went about her mission, which was to bring up her boys to the best of her ability. She sacrificed everything towards that end. Although I am biased, as far as I am concerned she did a great job.
When my brother Michael and I were on our feet financially, we tried to repay some of the debt. Mum wasn’t comfortable with taking from people, even from us, so we had to be forceful. That was a quirk of her character that both her sons have inherited, so we both understand what it must have been like for her. At least in those later times she enjoyed some happiness, with both her sons making their way in the world, and especially when her granddaughters appeared on the scene. How she loved the girls! And how they loved her.
Near the end, with mum’s body ravaged by the cancer that was to kill her – a cancer that her doctor misdiagnosed as nothing to worry about – she was confined to bed and a wheelchair. She was living in our house, with Susan doing her Florence Nightingale bit to her usual high standards, ensuring she had the best of care, and suffered as little as was possible. I remember the pharmacist being a big help, too.
Although mum was very weak, she had set her heart on being at her niece’s wedding. For several days before the wedding, it seemed as if she did not want to go to sleep, sensing that she might never wake up. She was hanging on, just.
She made it.
When we took her to the simchah, it was as if she had been plugged in to an energy pack. She was still stuck in the chair, but she smiled, and laughed, and surrounded by close family and friends, she joined in the celebrations, and had a thoroughly good time. We took her home, and she died the next night. She was 59.
Twenty-five years on, I still miss you mum. And I always will.