The smell of coffee draws on many memories for me; lazy Sunday’s with my hubby sipping on homemade lattes; of a busy cafe when I’m catching up with girlfriends I haven’t seen in weeks; of my Pop waiting patiently at the kitchen table for his mug of black loveliness; but more often than not its a memory of my Mum.
I can still see her sitting relaxed at the table in the caravan, or out on the front porch sitting in a chair when we moved into our house, menthol ciggie perched between her long nailed fingers, head in a book, she loved to read, puffing away like Thomas and gulping her white-with-one-saccharine-tablet as she flips a page. Fuck I miss her.
It’s the small things I miss; ‘kneading the dough’ which was squishing Mums bum cheeks while chanting “knead the dough, knead the dough” she hated that her bum was old and squishy, lol; brushing her salt and pepper coloured hair for her and putting it into piggy tails; plucking her near non-existent eyebrows and even putting on her socks for her, hitching them up to her knees. Yeah, I did that. How could you say no to Faye? She would glance over at me through her long fringe, brown eyes staring straight at me from behind her glasses, blinking her eye lids while conning me with a “Carn’ Nom, make me a cuppa will ya? You know you’re the best at making them!” Her cheesy smile always won me over. She generally got what she wanted. And, there’s no doubt she ran my sisters the exact same line!
A roast lamb was one of Mums best dishes. I vividly remember her marching back to her new local butcher one afternoon, carrying a half-cooked roast lamb in a baking dish of melted lard, stomping across the caravan park, into the butcher’s shop and slamming the dish on the counter. You didn’t fuck mum over, she paid for lamb, not mutton. She could smell the difference being as she was raised in the bush and slaughtering your own meat was common practise. She knew the difference and he learned his lesson, never giving her mutton again… ever. Her spag bog would take all day to cook and gosh it was worth waiting for. A huge boiler full to the top of the rich tomato blend. We would guts ourselves stupid on it, winding the spaghetti onto a spoon with our forks. That was living.
Mum had a naughty streak in her. Dirty jokes were her favourite. She always had one for the little old local men that came into her work at the Grocery Store, and then she had another share of filthy jokes for the old ladies that were with them! People just loved mum. She made you smile, even when she was taking the micky out of you. That was her knack. Making people laugh. Scaring the fucking shit out of little kids was another, like the time she told a six-year-old girl that she had trapped the Easter Bunny in a rabbit trap last night and he wasn’t coming this year… Yup, that one ended in tears and a fractured soul! She made up for it though I’m sure, by sneaking a lolly pop or chocolate into the little girls hand to fix the damage and then told her that Santa was next on her list.
Community was important to her. She knew everyone and every one knew her. She loved footy, and the Blues. Following Dad playing footy made it easy for mum to be involved. Sitting as the club secretary for a number of years, she managed the canteen and planned social functions. It was I would say some of the happiest years of her life. She watched future son in-laws play too, but sadly never got to see her grandsons on the ground. She’d be proud, like I am.
She had her funny little ways. Mum loved to douse herself in talcum powder after a shower, she may as well have rolled in it, a thick layer of white Cashmere Bouquet from her neck to her toes, but oh, she smelled lovely! You would often catch her gnawing on a frozen and stiff Birds Eye fish finger and she loved Butter Menthols, eating them like normal lollies. She was superstitious and believed the old Abbott family stories of people dying following a family picture. It took her decades to actually allow us to be in a complete family photo and I’ll be damned if that didn’t come true! We had our first family pic taken the Christmas before she died. I burned it.
Today is ten years.
I can still hear her voice. I can still see her face. If I try hard enough, I hear her laugh, and I kid you not, I smell her perfume often. Tabu. The heavy scent wafts through my lounge or kitchen, sometimes in the car. You won’t find a bottle of it in my home though. It’s comforting, but it hurts. That smell gets into my bones and rips at my heart. Perhaps I imagine it, maybe I don’t?
I have grown, a lot, and I’m a woman my Mum would be proud of. I still grieve for her, I have every right to and I believe that’s okay. I’m scared that moving on without remembering or honouring her will let me forget her, and who she was. She deserves to be remembered. I cry at the craziest of times, driving along the freeway or pushing a shopping trolley through the supermarket. It overwhelms me still that I will never see her again. Never hear her again. Or feel her hugs. Worst still is that my boys will never know her, my nieces and nephews will never know her, they’ll never remember the unconditional love she had for them. It takes my breath away when I think about it, like a kick in the chest. She made up for all her old misgivings with our kids, all the mistakes she made with us as children she made up for in those short few years she was a Granny.
She was taken way too soon. Fifty two years young and everything to live for. I’m sure if you asked her she would admit that she died the way she wanted to, in her sleep. A heart attack that she never felt, no pain, no warning. It’s sort of comforting, almost. That day I took a phone call that you never want to get. I inhaled and dropped to my knees as my sister told me she was gone. If I’m honest it took me six years to exhale, to let go and accept it. A breath out that I needed. That’s when I took my life by the balls, and started living again. Learning to breathe without her was hard, it’s still hard, but you just learn to endure it.
I wont live in the shadow of my mother’s death. Nor will I ever hide the hurt and pain that thinking about her can bring. My pain is often masked by a smile, laughs that hide my grief and when sharing memories I’m reminded that there will be no more made with her in it.
But, on the other side of my missing her is my thankfulness and my happiness of those memories of her I do have, the memories of her with our babies and knowing that some of her is in me, and in my sisters, always. I won’t forget her. Ever.
I had this blog all ready for today, not knowing that the cloud that today always has over it would be lifted just before dawn. I’ve been awake for 33 hours now. I’m completely spent, over tired and now, extremely emotional. At 3.41am, a few hours before the sun rose my beautiful, youngest sister Lana, birthed her sixth baby into the world. A big, healthy, nine pound nine ounce boy, with a crop of black hair, and dark eyes open, watching us all. He’s been here before, I have no doubt.
On all days to be born he chose today. I am so grateful. Truly I am, because now the tables have evened, a heart for a heart. This small bundle of perfect brightens a day that I mourn. Watching my sister progress through all the motions throughout yesterday I believed bubby would arrive before midnight, the rollercoaster just kept going. One of her longest births, he was waiting.
As I held him this morning, watching his scrunched face change and relax, and feeling his soft downy skin under my finger tips, and his tight grip around my finger, I thanked the stars above. He is perfect. How these tiny little people are grown inside of us is a pure miracle. It never ceases to amaze me. The circle of life, they take away, they give back. We have been waiting for you Akir! Thank you little man, you are very, VERY loved, like all of your cousins.
And, thank you to my sister, for allowing me to be a part of this huge privilege, again, for the third time. All three of us sisters together like we usually are on this day, but for a very different reason on this tenth year, awaiting the arrival of Mum’s tenth grandchild. I’m so proud of you and I love you both to the moon and back. Humble!
Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!