Sunday, May 13, 2012

Playing with Mum

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


Baydog said...

Beautiful. And priceless photo. And if she ever did drop you from that position it would explain a lot of things. Happy Mothers' Day to all the Mums!

Tillerman said...

I think my Mum probably started a long family tradition of holding male offspring upside down and dropping them on their heads. It could explain a lot of things indeed.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mums too, especially the ones that my Mum left behind, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, two granddaughters and two granddaughters-in-law. (We are a very symmetrical family!)

R W Rawles said...

Tears & smiles, Tillerman....

Tillerman said...

And the good thing is that later this summer all of the American half of Mum's family will be spending a week together at a beach house. Although Cape Cod will probably be a bit warmer than Ingoldmells!

I may have to hang some grandchildren upside down to keep the tradition going.

bonnie said...

Early capsize training?

Great photo & a beautiful Mother's Day post. Thanks.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Bonnie. When Mum first went into the nursing home 3 years ago, my wife and I spent a few days clearing out her old house in England. I think we must have obtained this photo then along with some others of my early childhood. Perhaps I'll post some of them here in the next few weeks. I don't have all the sailing nostalgia photos that Baydog does but they should be good for a laugh.

bonnie said...

I was just looking at Baydog's new header photo today & thinking once again what fantastic childhood memories.

Not that Hawaii was a bad place to be a kid or anything. Maybe next time I go down to visit my folks I'll have to see if they've got anything in the albums I could scan to share.

Abhijeet said...

Very expressive poem. I lost my father 2 years ago, and I know that you're never old enough to bear it.

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