I wonder what I did to my Mum to provoke her to hang me upside down over the veranda railing? She looks like she's having fun, so it couldn't have been anything terribly bad.
The picture was taken at the bungalow that we used to rent for a week every summer. It was in the Lincolnshire village of Ingoldmells on the North Sea coast of England. We went to the beach every day, played on the sand and in the chilly sea, ate lots of fish and chips, and generally had fun together as a family. That picture of me playing around with my Mum must have been taken some time in the mid 1950s.
Today is Mother's Day in the USA. But I didn't send flowers and a card to my Mum this year. She died on New Year's Day, only a few weeks before what would have been her 90th birthday. Today is my first Mother's Day without a mother.
Mum spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home in England. It was a good nursing home as nursing homes go, but it was sad to see Mum's slow mental and physical decline. Dementia is an ugly word for an ugly condition. Nothing about watching what happened to my mother motivated me to change that subtitle on my blog.
Cheat the nursing home - die on your LASER. Indeed.
My sister chose this poem to be read at Mum's funeral. It sums up precisely what I wanted to say too about her life and death.
You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love that you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she is gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins, © 1981