Mother’s Day – Minus Mum

Mother’s Day – Minus Mum
I had my mum for 23 Mother’s Days. The last one was the day I lost her. Yes, my mum passed on Mother’s Day, 1983, while I was visiting her in hospital, right in front of me. She started talking to her (long ago passed) father over my shoulder, and told me her dad had come to get her, and then she just…..died.
There is no getting around Mother’s Day. Every year, its looming arrival causes an emotional explosion. I adored her, and even though it has been 34 years, I literally think about her every day. Mother’s Day is a reminder of my terrible loss, so unfair not to have had her there beside me through life’s main events. Or to just call up to chat, to get advice, to tell her something exciting.
We all take our loved ones’ place in our lives for granted. Not being able to talk to your mum is very hard.
It has been my children’s loss not to have known her. She was my hero. She saved me. She is the best person I have ever known.
I lost my dad a year after she he died of a broken heart. This is true. He just dropped dead. He suffered greatly after her passing and his final words to her, just after she had passed, were “good bye my darling but not for long.” He kept his word to her.
Sometimes I can barely wait to go to Heaven to be with them. The three of us together again.
In the meantime, let me tell you a few things about her that I remember.
She had a British Accent and when she talked she sounded exactly like the Queen of England. And her presence had a royal-ness to it, my mum could take over a room, just with her dignity, kindness, humour, and aura.
She loved Lily of the Valley perfume, wearing odd hats (well, to me the then teenager they seemed odd) she often hummed “Onward Christian Soldiers” and she liked gin and tonic.
She had a mad crush on James Garner (Rockford Files), Raymond Burr (Ironside) and Robert Goulet. Sometimes I think she just mentioned this to get even with my dad who crushed on Sofia Loren BIG time.
My dad’s last girlfriend before he got together with my mum was named Muriel. So we had a cat named “Muriel”, and when that cat died we got another cat,,,and named her Muriel. Mum said it would remind dad to appreciate that he had her now. Muriel was sent to the litter box!
Mum had really lovely, long, soft hands which I loved in the evening when I would drape myself over her knee as a little kid and she would rub my back. Dad sometimes tried to do this for me but Mum did it perfectly. She had the touch.
She had beautiful, flawless skin. She wore velvet gloves to bed every night filled with vaseline as this was her home remedy to maintain lovely hands
She had a dry sense of humour and was ahead of her time in her opinions about things. She befriended a mixed race couple who had moved onto our street in the mid 60’s when they were being shunned by everyone else. She thought it was best, she advised me, to live together before getting married and having a career and being able to support yourself was the most important thing…to never rely on a man.
When I had said one time I wanted to be nurse she told me NO…you will be a doctor.
She embraced mental health days – one outstanding memory I have is the day I was feeling kind of fed up with life (oh yes, the life of a grade fiver is SO stressful !!) and although I hadn’t said anything when I was getting dressed for school, her intuition told her I needed a break, so she LET me skip school and took me shopping for the day, to Woodward’s and Eaton’s and The Army and Navy, …and to Woolworth’s lunch counter! My mum was so cool.
When a kid was bullying me in middle school (Leanne Wells, you know who you are!!!) , and really bullying me, with physical contact, my mum told me the next time she took a swing at me to fall down “unconscious” and wait for someone to call the principal and likely she would steer clear of me from then on. I actually did it, “coming to” when the principal got out the smelling salts (Oscar worthy performance) she was suspended, and never came near me again. My mum was brilliant.
Instead of bedtime stories, my mum would sit on my bed and tell me stories about the family, the history, the people, the gossip (apparently my Uncle Hartley had a secret family on the side). She told me about the years she was in a private boarding school in Belgium and how the English girls hated the French girls vice versa, she got into a rolling-on-the-ground fist fight with a french girl who had told my mum that the Prince of Wales wore a corset!! My mum was a monarchist!!
While at the school, the nuns had their own quarters, similar to a large dorm room, and would keep chamber pots under each of their beds (to urinate in at night). Mum proudly told me of the time she organized a group of thugs to slip bicarbonate of soda (like alka seltzer) into the chamber pots…hence, a fizzy experience  overflowing in the middle of the night. She framed the French girls!!
She also told me about the day she was called into the Sister’s office and told she had to go home to Wales as her mother had died. My mum was 13 at the time. They said she had passed away from a ruptured appendix. My mum never went back to school in Belgium and stayed home with her dad, who she adored. Her favourite song was “Oh My Papa – to me you were so wonderful” by Eddie Fisher and she would sing it often.
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
No one could be, so gentle and so lovable
Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.
Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
And with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter
When her health started to fail (dementia) I had just joined the RCMP and was explaining to her what I did…she told to make sure I kept the (police) car doors locked at night and not to let anyone strange into my car.
When “streaking” became a “thing” (it was a fad in the early 70’s and called an “epidemic” by the media in 1973), I brought a magazine home that was all about this phenomenon ….complete with photos. This was totally my humour!! Not so much my mum and dad’s HOWEVER my mum sure took a long time “going over” the magazine despite her protestations, and seemed to have a fixation with the parachutist featured…in all his glory.
My mum was funny, devoted, honest, brave, generous, an advocate, and wise.
My Mother’s Day gift to her is honouring her life, loving her beyond the border between earth and heaven, and being the difference she made in my world.
Mum, I always feel you are nearby, and when I talk to you, you hear me. I just miss you so much. I wish we had taken more photos together and that you had not cut yourself out of the ones you were in!!
Today I will honour my very dear mum, continue to demonstrate my deep love and gratitude for this selfless and courageous woman who remains my greatest hero.
Erith Maisie (Nicholls) Thomson

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