Today would have been my Mum’s birthday

She was born on the 9th of June 1913 and died 4th of September 1995, so I had a mother until I was forty.

She was forty two when I was born and became a widow at forty four. I was two and my brother was twelve. That was tough — emotionally and also financially, but I never really understood how tough until I was much older.

Worked hard all her life … started to work in the mental hospital in 1933 and kept on working until she retired. The last working years, she worked night … that brought in more money as my father didn’t have any insurance when he died and it was hard to make ends meet, but we never lacked anything. My brother had to get home early in the evenings to ‘baby-sit’ me when she went to work.

The age difference of forty two years between she and myself, of course made for quite a few … ‘differences’ — especially in my teenage years. Like many other parents, she kept bringing up what it was like when she was young, but in our case, that was like a different world to me … like she came from a different planet! We were also very different personalities, so to speak. There are times when I feel that I never really knew her and she didn’t know me either, but she was always there. It was a feeling of security.

She never re-married … she never even dated anyone after my father’s death. I don’t think she had time. Working nights, full time at the hospital, raising me and my brother on her own … I think she had her hands pretty much full. Cleanliness was a bit of an obsession so our home was always squeaky clean … clinically clean! I had a tremendous amount of respect for her and that’s perhaps the reason I still fold my towels and sheets the same way she taught me.

I’m thankful to say that in the very last months of her life we got better contact than we’d ever had. I don’t know how it happened … but it did, and we were able to talk about things we’d never talked about and get a lot of things straightened out. It saved me from a lot of grief, guilt and perhaps anxiety after she’d died. She wasn’t sick or anything during these months … it just happened.

When she died from a heart attack, it took about five hours from when the ambulance came until the end. This might sound strange, but I was thankful that she went that way. She was a woman of great will-power and fortunate enough to live on her own, taking care of her own businesses … never having to rely on anybody else or forced to move into an old folks home.

In spite of what I said about we really not knowing each other, we had a very close contact. I spoke with her on the phone every day, no matter where I lived. After she died, it took many weeks before I ceased to reach for the phone to make the daily phone call.

Imagine if she would magically come back for a brief moment, and I’d tell her I was writing a blog about her! 🙂  The Internet had not even come into my life in 1995 so the word ‘blog’ wouldn’t have meant anything to her.


11 thoughts on “Today would have been my Mum’s birthday”

  1. Hello Rebekah: What a lovely blog about your Mother….you are a remarkable woman….I think you carry alot of your Mother in you!! My Mother & I were estranged right from the start; I only spent 6 years living with her & it didn’t go well….I was already bonded to my Father & my Nanna. We didn’t speak for 11 years leading up to her death….it was a tragic waste of a relationship….i could relate to the picking up the phone tho’. I was like that with my Nanna…even when I moved back here I would pick up the phone & dail her number which was out of service….I still go to call my Father….they might be gone but thesy are never forgotten….may GOD rest their souls….I miss all my family Mother included….<3

    1. Sherriellen, Thank you for taking time out and commenting … Even though I was two when I lost my Dad, and hence never knew him, I always missed him and felt related to him. I miss them both…

  2. Mom was 27 yrs. older than me but our lives were so totally different. She grew up very poor. I grew comfortable. not rich but just ok.

    Mom and I talked at least once, sometimes twice, on the phone daily. While we had our differences, I sure depended on her. After my daughter walked away from her child and then from all of us, I would have died without Mom.

    Mom was in a home for 3 years. After a year or so, she could no longer call me. I got out of the habit of our daily calls. No one would help her call me and I hated to call her as they phone was rarely near her.

    Mom had not been ill when she died. She was gone in 20 min. No time to prepare at all. I still struggle with it.

    Good you have good memories and found ways to be close with your mother. Important.

  3. What a lovely tribute to your Mom. I think your Mom would have chosen to go in 20 minutes…she had probably long since prepared for her death…I think children, no matter how old they are, are never really prepared to lose their parents. Perhaps it is then that we realize that we are next, hopefully, to die before our children.

    She would be really proud of you and all that you have accomplished…your joy with Gerry, your blogging…especially your photographs. She would be proud that you are not having to work as hard as she did. We want our children to have a better life from what we had.

    Having a degree in psychology, I would have loved to hear her stories about the mental hospital back then. It was really bad when I first entered the field in the mid 1970s and the professors told us the stories of the early days. She would be amazed at how far we have come in the interval.

    Cherish the good times!

    1. Linda, Yeah, I sure got a good life … late, but still. And I do appreciate what I have … a lot!

      She talked a lot about what that was like back in 1933. No pharmaceutical stuff existed. Only straight-jackets, hot and cold baths, lobotomy… I even remember the name of the first drug that came out — Hibernal. I don’t know if it had the same name in English. Often the names are slightly different spelling or so. They didn’t know much about it, so they crushed it to mix it in some food or whatever, and in the process of crushing them, they all got terrible like eczema… Many of the patients wouldn’t have been locked up today..

  4. What a lovely story about your mum. My mom also died in 1995 (she was 65) when I was 40 years old. We had our ups and downs and I was clearly not ready or prepared for her to leave us. I’d like to go back to that place and time and do things differently. I appreciate you sharing your memories of her in this blog.

  5. Rebekah, thank you for sharing your personal thoughts about your Mum. She would be proud of the woman you have become and the life that you have – and of course, very proud of the talented photographer that you are!
    It must have been very hard for her raising you and your brother on her own back then, and her heart would be happy to see that you have a happy marriage and how contented you are with your life.
    A wonderful tribute to your mum.
    I’m fortunate to still have my mother (she is 91), although I don’t see her often as she lives in the UK and I’m in Australia. She has been in a home since she had a bad stroke 7 years ago (last time I saw her), so I’m really looking forward to seeing her this September on our UK visit.

    1. Barb, Yes … she probably would 🙂 I’m so looking forward to hearing about your trip in September … what it feels like, getting back after all these years.

  6. such a strong bond between mother and daughter. So happy for you that you were blessed with greater togetherness in her last years. When my mother died, I had not seen or spoken to her in twenty years. It’s one of the regrets of my life because I think, if I had reached out, we could have become somewhat friends.
    walk in beauty.

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