A birth and death in a family days apart is a roller coaster of emotions that is hard to imagine. Just after the birth of our beautiful new grand daughter, I received the news that Mum had a couple of days left. Family gathered to absorb the news and make her final days easy for her.
However she had plans. She started a little roller coaster of her own with calling to her bedside her nearest and dearest, young and old. She told us all how special each one of us were and she told us in a truly joyful way that she was excited, she was ready, she would be joining Dad & other members of her family. Her body was tired and this was her next journey. She will be dancing in the streets.
She told us where the instructions were for her funeral plans, right down to what songs she wanted and where the boxes of chocolates were that had been bought ready for Christmas, listing who should be given them, from the lawn mowing lady to the staff on ward who had helped her in the days previous. She even told us she had some dollars in her handbag to help pay for the parking, then she lapsed into unconsciousness.
We sat by her bedside, different ones coming and going, playing her favourite music, telling stories, laughing and consoling each other as reality loomed. Tears flowed. We knew this was real. She would be leaving us soon.
We became aware that her breathing was becoming shallower and then lengthening and we told her we loved her once more and that she could slip away when she was ready, because we were ready. We held her hands as she took her last few quiet and gentle breathes.
It was a beautiful way to farewell someone who has been a rock to so many. Her funeral was exactly as she had asked. A simple custom wood casket that children, grandchildren and great grandchildren decorated. Handpicked flowers bunched and laid on top, almost all from her own garden. Her grandchildren singing one of her favourite Van Morrison numbers, ‘Bright side of the road’. The casket taken to the church and the cemetery in Johny’s station wagon, polished to a glossy red and after being lowered into the grave with Dad, her family taking turns shoveling the soil in on her. We weren’t going to leave that job for a bunch of strangers…and then sandwiches and savories like she has plated for many joyful and sad occasions in the past herself. She never needed fancy in life and she didn’t want it now.
The flower pictured is from a cutting I bought back from Marlborough Sounds. I handed Mum a dried up looking stick and asked her if she could grow it for me. She nurtured it for months and gave it back to me a few weeks ago. The morning after her passing I noticed it in full flower, in all its pink glory… Thanks Mum, Its beautiful!