“I heard your voice in the wind today
and I turned to see your face;
The warmth of the wind caressed me
as I stood silently in place.
I felt your touch in the sun today
as its warmth filled the sky;
I closed my eyes for your embrace
and my spirit soared high.
I saw your eyes in the window pane
as I watched the falling rain;
It seemed as each raindrop fell
it quietly said your name.
I held you close in my heart today
it made me feel complete;
You may have died…but you are not gone
you will always be a part of me.
As long as the sun shines…
the wind blows…
the rain falls…
You will live on inside of me forever
for that is all my heart knows.”
– Tim Edds
It would have been my Mum’s 72nd birthday last Sunday. We went away for Euan’s 8th birthday so didn’t get to see my Dad. This time last year, as we marked the first birthday without her it was so important to be together. That’s not to say just a year on it’s less important just that the celebration of one of her beloved grandchildren, on the rare occasion of his birthday falling on the weekend, took priority. Mum would have wanted it that way. We invited Dad to come away with us but he already had a date with Elkie Brooks at Cheltenham Town Hall!
I love that photo of Mum with Dad, taken on Mum’s 60th birthday in 2008. Just 5 years later, a few days before Euan’s 1st birthday, Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in August 2018 aged 70. I looked through so many photos of Mum for this post but was at a loss to know how to sum up the person she was to me in a handful of snaps (I guess you can piece together some of that from previous remembering Mum posts). There was the Mum of my childhood, the Mum of adulthood and the Mum that became sick and died.
Cancer treatment is brutal and ravages the body it is trying to save. Mum lost her hair and started wearing a stylish short cut wig. People told her how well she looked. She felt mostly ok for the first few years and maintained a tight lipped privacy about what she was enduring. Few people knew she was living with cancer. Even for those of us that did you could easily wonder if it was all a dream or if it had gone away because she refused to let it have a negative impact on those around her. Treatment cycle after treatment cycle takes it’s toll though. Mum aged rapidly in the last year as the cancer cells spread around her body outrunning her liver.
I love this photo too. Mum’s 70th birthday in January 2018, our last celebration with her (although we didn’t know that at the time). Mum had said she didn’t want any fuss for her 70th but over Christmas she had a change of heart. She’d asked me what we were doing for Euan’s birthday so she could decide which day to have her party. I smiled as she said ”You didn’t know I was having a party? I’m sure I told you!”. After Mum died Dad and I wondered if she’d secretly wanted to gather her family together one last time because she wasn’t sure she’d be well enough to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in the Autumn. As it was the day before Mum and Dad would have celebrated 50 years of marriage we were all together again; at her funeral.
This is my favourite photo of Mum with my little family. A photo in which I’m daughter, wife and mother. It was taken in a pub car park on my 42nd birthday. Do you know what I love most about it? The story of love and connection it tells as we stood waiting for a stranger to work out how to use my camera. The placing of hands that say ”I love you”, ”you’re great”, ”I’m so happy to be here with you”. Have you ever noticed that in pictures? The small details it’s so easy to miss if you’re only looking at faces. I see it a lot in our family photos, the tilt of a head, the holding of hands. I see it in all the photos of Mum and Dad together, always an arm draped around shoulders or the gentle touch of linked arms. It reminds me of a verse we included on the front of our order of service on our wedding day:
”These hands – the hands that care, the hands that mold:
the hands that touch the lips, the lips that speak the words,
the words that tell us we are whole”
– Douglas Coupland, Life after God