Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Found These Too

From my great-grandfather, George. I love George, although we never met. He would have loved me too, I know. The story goes that, when my Mum was a baby, he would come to visit and accidently drop his boots outside her door and accidently wake her up. He was a tailor and had three shops in Melbourne. King's Tailors or something. Here he is again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hello Again

I've been going through my Mum's sewing room and finding things. Dad wants everything else to stay for a while... clothes etc, but the sewing room's to be turned into a computer room and we're all bandying together to force him onto the internet, where many of his mates will send dumb jokes and he can join forums about fire stuff... engines, fighting... history.
I've found my Grandmother's photo's though. This is Grandma (Phyllis) when she was about 20-ish... 1920's anyway. I've had a couple of other photo's taken on this day for years. It's amazing, to flesh the day out like that, so long ago. There is definitely something of me there.
I'm staggering between disbelief and stunned recognition of Mum's death. It's awful. Such a bright person. You'll have to bear with me I'm afraid, or just look at the pictures.
x But thanks for the love people, seriously. You've been so lovely. Sniff.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mum's Photo Show

Had the funeral today... Gruelling. Lovely. Hard. Nice. Awful. Terribly real and sublimely unreal. I said my thing and my brother wrote a poem, which was funny (of course, if you knew my brother). He's in the picture wearing a purple sleeved t-shirt. That's me there, with my son in front (wearing a dapper hat) and my nearest and most dearest to my left, next to me or behind me. I made the jacket yesterday and I'll take a pic. It turned out ok, thank goodness because there was no back-up.

Here's mine for what it's worth... it's long but... Oh... I uploaded the slideshow...

When Mum was in hospital a month ago, I thought I should write something for her to tell her how much I thought of her and admired her and always had. I started with how nice it was that she’d always been so happy-go-lucky and easy-going… how she took people as they were without holding their differences against them and that she was so pretty. I started to write about how non-judgemental she was with Glenn’s and my many phases and friends and didn’t get bogged down with dumb stuff like us singing Mu Nu Mu Nu from Yackandandah to Alexander or being generally kid like and noisy. She embraced all of my friends, all of my kids friends, and the neighbours and their kids were free to wander through (as we were with them) and we always had a plethera of Fire Brigade blokes at the table. If someone wandered in and put the kettle on it was a sign that they felt at home, and that was a good thing.
One time when I was about 5 or 6, the folks were going somewhere and Mum had her hair piled up in a magnificent Bee-Hive and had on a long, Chinese shift in lilac satin-brocade, with slits up the side and I just stood there looking at her, thinking how Beautiful she was. So pretty.
Tenacity is another trait I admired in my mother. Once a plan took hold she took it to its extreme. ‘Interests’ weren’t passive little passtimes but rampant passions.
She and Grandma and I used to know every fabric shop within a 50 mile radius of Melbourne. We were always on the phone to each other asking if the other had this or that or how to do something or sharing plans. I’d get impatient with Mum because she could do most of the stuff, but she just didn’t have the confidence in her own ability and I’d try to tell her it was easy and why. In my twenties, she was the only person I was comfortable snapping at. Now I’m happy to snap at anyone. But I’d say, Mum, it’s the same as doing this or that… something she’d do eveyday… and she’d say ‘Can’t you just do the collar’ or whatever and I’d roll my eyes and say No! and show her instead… and she’d say ‘oh, that was easy’ and I’d roll my eyes again.
But then around 1990 we did a Teddy Bear class one day and that was it for her. A mighty new craze took hold. We had another excuse to buy dozens of patterns. She quickly became a fantastic dollmaker and all of the skills and experience and sense of style she had fell into place. She went completely nuts as you all know and really excelled in her field.
My Mum was fun. When Glenn and I were little, I remember all of the kids in the street piling into the car with Aunty Shirley or whoever and heading down to the Seville Pool. The Mum’s’d glam it up, lying about on their blankets smoking ciggarette’s and sunbaking all day while we swam and fooled about and went up to buy 10c worth of chips. She was always telling us not to get her hair wet and would swim breast stroke with her head carefully dry which looked really funny, so we’d all bomb her and accidently splash her until she was drenched.
Mum’d give Glenn and I money for a roll of Cherry Paper as we called Butcher’s paper around here, and she’d be on the floor with us drawing. That was what she was like. She had tons of Dash and was fun and approachable and social.
She could never hold a tune so Glenn and I would set the tape recorder up and secretly tape her demolishing The Beatles or whatever. If you were naughty she’d chase you with the nasty end of the feather-duster but if you got away you got away.
And always with a cigarette on the edge of the ashtray.
Mum started doing markets just before my kids were born and I worked for her on and off over the years with kids holed up in the back of the shop or at school. She adored her children and grandchildren. Christmas for Glenn and I was an extravaganza, but when the first few grandkiddies came along there was health, energy and a disposable income available and they were all completely spoiled and indulged. I’d try to get her to tone it down so as not to ruin them utterly but neither the kids nor Mum or Dad thought that was any fun at all. Once, when Rob was almost two, we had Chrissy at Mum and Dad’s and then went to my ex In Laws and they gave him 4-5 presents, which was quite a bit really, and he opened them and then asked where the rest were. Twas ever thus.
Mum bought a swimming pool at one stage and I never saw my children again. They’d be nagging me saying ‘Can we go to Gramps and Mormor’s?’ Or Mum or Dad would be on the phone saying ‘Can the kids come down for afternoon tea?’ and I’d say, half-laughing, half-serious ‘No, they’re my kids’ but off they’d go .
Nothing was or is too much trouble for either of my parents. Ever. For family and friends.
When I was a teenager, my friends Jennie and then Marion were always there too. Marion and I used to try and convert Mum to every new philosophy and she’d go along with it all, happy to be part of the adventure.
She was a real bright spark. Always.
She was so fussy about clothes. She set mine out until I was 14, until I put my little foot down. She always needed a new cardigan. The kids and I would laugh at her and say ‘You’ve got hundreds’ and she’d say she just needed a nice black one to go with some new pants she’d made. Completely serious. And Dad would grumble and give her some money and drive her to Box Hill and then they’d visit the great-grandchildren and have coffee.
I can’t remember her ever being down, except as the illness incapacitated her. Then she’d get so over it all sometimes. Like when she got shingles, as if dodgy lungs and broken bones weren’t enough. She’d get angry and depressed. But it wasn’t her natural state. Her natural state was to be a good egg. A real brick.
It’s inadequate to say ‘She had a good life’ because she wanted more. She wanted us. She wanted to see the little one’s grow up. She wanted forever, not this short little life. Her sewing room has a million projects still to do and little notes everywhere pinned onto the appropriate fabric. In hospital a couple of weeks ago they’d given her some drug that made her hallucinate and she was seeing helicopters crashing and police raids and at the same time was planning to make some pot-holders, which is one of my recent things. She made me bring in some felt and thread. ‘Just two to start with’ she said. Tripping off her face and desperatley ill and planning just two pot holders.
I never finished that letter because it was better to tell her while I could and we all did just that. We all, including many of you, had a sad and beautifully tender final week. She died surrounded by love, filled with the love her family and life-long friends gave her abundantly and that she felt also. She was still a bright personality and was laughing at herself right to the very end. In the middle of the night one night, she said "I’m SO happy’ and when I got up to see if she was ok said ‘It’s ok, go back to sleep’ in a sweet voice. She knew how loved she was by all of you and appreciated every little skerrick of it. Mum held court there in her purple chair in her purple lounge-room and I’d say we’re all still doing as we’re told here with our purple ties and socks and shoe-laces, running all over the place to accommodate her… still!
She lives on in us in so many ways, my kids all have a shoe obsession and I have enough fabric to last even my grand-daughters lifetime. Her lovliness is evident in her children.

I’ll always, always miss my beautiful mother, I love you Mum.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two Great Photo's Of My Mum

She really was a beauty! I think I'll have a go at making a painting from one of these, probably the lower one.
I've spent the night trying to make a slide show... successfully according to my computer, but my lap-top doesn't recognise any type of CD I've burned. I'm hoping the church has its own computer... or we're stuffed!
Or, I am advised that I could save the whole lot to a BSB memory stick and into My Pictures and then play it via there. Problem is, I'm supposed to be at the venue to try it out at 9am and my BSB is at work and I can't even get a new one in time. 9am and all that. I believe I will figure it out.
Frustrating but!
It's hard work doing this. Sad. Today I'm finding it all too difficult to believe true. Even though I was there. She's still new in my day to day memory. Dad's a wreck.
Thanks for all the nicenesses too people, so vey moving to be surrounded by your love and kindness. xxx

Thursday, August 14, 2008

April 9th, 1935 - August 12, 2008

She actually did it. I can't believe it and I hate death like you wouldn't believe. Yes, yes, she was ill and now she's not... but she was alive and now she's not. She was so very ill and every little thing required more effort than she had, almost... every breath was a struggle and her back hurt constantly, terribly... but she laughed and made fun of herself, and she loved my children and had words of wisdom that we either laughed at affectionately or took on board and agreed with, and she adored her great-grand-children like they'd been made from the purest ingredients and could do no wrong (which is true).
Mum was planning pot-holders in the midst of her drug and pneumonia induced delirium... just one or two. I took her a bag of culled felt I had for the op-shop in a nice new purple pencil case with embroidery cottons and a bundle of pictures to inspire her. I gave her the crappy felt because she (1) wasn't bothered by polyester like I am and (2) I knew she wasn't going to do anything and there were some good Mum colours.
Dad took her home last Monday (just over a week ago) and it was to die. She'd been fighting for so long and was losing. I stayed. Last night was my first night at home with Ross. I slept on a mattress at the foot of her recliner (purple) and we stroked her face and held her hand and fed her baby food and then shaved ice until she wasn't able to do it anymore. We washed her and I used my ray-gun to ward off well-meaning friends who stayed and stayed and would have (well meaning-ly) robbed my father of his last chances to be with her and redeem anything that needed redeeming and to tell her he loved her. He politely kept up conversations with friends and I'd see him glancing over and so I'd ray-gun them into submission. Sometimes I had to turn it to the highest setting.
We've cried buckets but there are oceans. It's no comfort to me to say she had a good life, it wasn't long enough. I want her here. We were the sewers. We remembered the stuff. We rolled our eyes at Dad and stuck up for the need to buy the trim that you could only get an hour's drive away because it was the right colour.
She stipulated that everyone wears purple at the funeral and you'd have to know her to say typical! I never wear purple and I said to my brother that I've side-stepped Mum's demands all my life and I wasn't wearing purple to the funeral, which is a lie. I'm wearing her jewellery... and I'm just about to make a purplish skirt... and jacket if I can be bothered. I've been meaning to make it for a few years and it's only right. But it's aubergine so I'm winning a bit and so is she.
So beautiful, that girl. Pretty, blonde, with big blue eyes. I have her hands but I'm much taller and dark.
Even though I've had Nick Cave's 'Death Is Not The End' going through my head for days... I'm not so sure. It's fucking un-natural, that's all I can say.
I love you Mum. I'll miss you forever but every time I look at my daughters I can see your personality. Even my son has your obsession with shoes. We're all stubborn and happy-in-ourselves.
So sweet and a little bit naughty.

Monday, August 04, 2008

My Parents, April 9th, 1955

Also Mum's 21st birthday.

Thing is... Mum's so sick at the moment, I don't think she's gonna make it. I love her so much.