Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Love Now

The flood of emotion hit me suddenly and unexpectedly.

I was driving to an afternoon meeting, the heater blasting my feet with hot air and Chris Tomlin's song Love, from his CD, Hello Love , blasting my ears with hot music. The moment triggered a strong memory of Mum's presence in the car seat beside me when she was last in Canada in 2003.

I was on my way "somewhere," and she was with me; utterly content. My CD player in that moment was blasting out a new rocky arrangement of Amazing Grace and I was enjoying the music; and having Mum by my side.

Mum's 32 years of transatlantic visits came to an end with a stroke in 2003, days after returning to England from Canada, but I have so many memories to treasure. They are concentrated essence of pure joy.

The anticipation of each visit was part of the joy as the countdown began about six weeks before her planned arrival. By the time I went to the airport, I would barely be able to contain my excitement. I would imagine that dearly loved soul being deposited somewhere in the vastness of Lester B. Pearson airport. Somehow that thought; that she was somewhere in there, so close, but as yet undiscovered, was all part of the delicious suspense.

Watching the arrivals gate for her familiar small figure, being wheeled out in a wheelchair on her last couple of trips; well, I would be at bursting point by then.

We had some funny airport moments. I waited for a great length of time outside the Ladies Room for her once, and when she finally emerged I said, "Mum, you were gone a long time."

She confided that the plane journey had given her a large amount of flatulence, which she was loathe to release until someone flushed in the adjoining cubicle, to camoflauge the sound effects. We roared with laughter at the fact that she had patiently waited for the others to flush and not thought of doing so herself.

But the last laugh was on me, for when we emerged from the elevator in the parking garage, I had forgotten where I had left the car, so rather than have Mum follow me all over the garage looking, I promised to return when I found it. I did return triumphantly, telling Mum, "I found it, it's just a few rows over."
Mum asked in dismay, "But darling, why didn't you bring it with you?" At which we both dissolved into laughter.

Instead of wanting an early night the first night, after such a long journey and with the time difference being five hours, she would astound me every time with her ability to stay up with me until I went to bed, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge tiredness. She was determined to enjoy every minute possible and not waste one of them sleeping if she could help it.

Our happiness was found in just being together. I am a restless soul, on the move a lot of the time and she was content to just be with me whether that was: shopping, worship practice, writers group, a prayer meeting or church. Like other visiting friends, she often spent time in my kitchen with me peeling and chopping quantities of apples or onions and laughter sprinkles every memory of those times, for we found something to snort with giggles at in almost everything we did.

Since the stroke, and now 82 years old, the journey would be too exhausting and she rarely even leaves her tiny flat, quite content in her much smaller world. But she is lovingly cared for by my brother Rob and a fleet of Helping Hands ladies, and I still have her; I can still go and be with her.

I wish I did as good a job of "just being" with her as she did of just being with me.

My Auntie Mies gave me a Poesie Album in the summer of 1962. This small book, bound in silver gray, with a sticker on the front of a white vase, embossed with gold and overflowing with pink roses, captured the summer that I turned 12.

It is an autograph book, in which aunts, uncles and other relatives, as well as friends, wrote little poems, some of them original. Little decorative stickers were added to the pages, and I also cut out photographs of the person if I had one, and glued it on their page.

There are poems in Dutch, German and English and one of them by Friedrich Wilhelm Kaulisch, part of which was copied out by my German aunt, Tante Hannelore, says:

Wenn Du noch eine Mutter hast,
so danke Gott und sei zufrieden.
Nicht allen auf dem Erdenrund
ist dieses hohe Glück beschieden.

I speak little German, but I believe that in essence it means that if you still have a mother, then thank God and treasure her.

How often we don't treasure the moments we have sufficiently. Sadly it is often when we lose something or someone that we realize what we had.

Do all the loving you can, to all the people you can, today.

8 comments:

Heather said...

Thank you for your post Belinda...it gave me so many things to think about. I love airports and since I've moved to Australia they have taken on a new significance for me. I absolutely love watching a family meeting up after a time apart...excited children clutching balloons screaming "Welcome Grandma"...infants being passed tenderly over the barrier and the joy as a grandparent meets an already much loved grandchild for the first time...they are wonderful moments and I never fail to be moved by them. I've had several fraught journeys, flying either full of anxiety because one of my parents was ill or with a broken heart because I was flying to attend their funeral.
My own Mother passed away 6 months ago. She died while I was flying back from Oz. I knew before I left Scotland that she was very ill and that my leaving was likely the last time I would see her alive and that's how it was. She had a simple faith and a profound belief that she would be with her Lord...she looked forward to being reunited with my Father and with her Mother.
I was never good at 'just being' in her company...we had a sparky relationship that definitely had a few moments but I miss her more than I would ever have imagined.
I've been doing OK since she died...a new life in a new country is a sure fire way to concentrate your mind...but this morning I woke up feeling as if I had lead in my heart and actually felt so bad that I wasn't able to go to work. I wasn't too sure about what was wrong with me but I knew there was something.
And then I read your post...and I realise that I just miss her...pure and simple...and so now I have lots of tears which are mostly about sadness and some are about guilt and regret. But I also find in my heart just simple joy and gratitude at having had a good Mother and of being well loved by her...
Thank you
Heather

Belinda said...

Oh Heather...one of Mum's deepest sorrows was getting to an airport in Holland (from England where she now lives) where her own mum was ill and finding that she had died while she was on the journey. She was so depressed after that until she had a dream one night and her mother was smiling at her, telling her that she was ok. After that she felt so much better. My mum too, has a deep faith, but I think she felt so guilty, as if she failed her mum by not getting there in time. I think she also worried about whether or not she would see her mum again.
I'm so glad you had such a "sparkly" relationship with your own dear mum. It sounds as if she had such peace knowing that she had seen you and could just "fold up her tent" and go home. And I am sure that she is not far from you now because of Hebrews 12:1, which talks about a "cloud of witnesses."
Blessings and a great big hug.

Marilyn said...

THANKS so much for esteeming the ability to "just be" with someone!

I chuckled aloud at your mum's comment "Why didn't you bring it with you?"

Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I hope you enjoyed writing this post as much as I did reading it. It's lovely - full of 'snapshots'!

Belinda said...

Thank you Marilyn, your comments are so appreciated. I did enjoy pouring out my heart and it is such a blessing to know that it meant something to others too.

Susan said...

The translation:

I got a lot of this on my own from the deep recesses of memory, but the words I didn't know (mostly the big ones!) my multi-lingual Christy was able to fill in.

Wenn Du noch eine Mutter hast,
so danke Gott und sei zufrieden.
Nicht allen auf dem Erdenrund
ist dieses hohe Glück beschieden.

When you still a mother have
So thank God and be content
Not everyone in the world
With such great luck is bestowed.

I loved every word of this post.

I have read that the most significant event in a woman's life is the passing of her mother, so Heather, you are not alone. I cried every single day for a year when my mother went to be with the Lord, and even now, over twenty years later I still miss her in some ways. In other ways, I sense her watching over us still part of that great cloud of witnesses Belinda talks about.

Belinda, thank you for sharing Mum with us. What a treasure you two have in each other! And what treasure we have in the two of you!

jan said...

Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. I wasn't as close to my mother as I would've liked to have been. We just didn't "get" each other.
We have 2, almost 3 grown sons and I've often wondered, how on earth does one mother grown sons? I loved this post because it gave me something to aim toward. Maybe our sons would like me to "just be" with them. Maybe that's how you parent adult children?
I wish I could adopt your mum and learn from her!
Thank you again....

Belinda said...

Dear Jan,
You can share my mum. There is enough love in her to spread a long way. All of my friends loved her over here, and in England another of my friends and her husband regularly drive two and a half hours each way to visit her.

They have adopted her, as both of their parents died and they think of her as family.

I can't wait until heaven when I can take people by the hand and say, "Come and meet Mum."

Belinda said...

Dear Jan,
You can share my mum. There is enough love in her to spread a long way. All of my friends loved her over here, and in England another of my friends and her husband regularly drive two and a half hours each way to visit her.

They have adopted her, as both of their parents died and they think of her as family.

I can't wait until heaven when I can take people by the hand and say, "Come and meet Mum."