Relationships between mothers and their children seem to change as the young become adults. If the early life of the child is one of some happiness and love then I’d like to think it would get better. When it’s one of pain and abuse in its worst form then life can only get more complicated, a genuine love hate relationship that shatters ones soul. After my father died mother moved to the Gold Coast and lived alone in a tiny flat. She seemed happy with her life but couldn’t stop interfering in mine, an abyss formed in our relationship that lasted for four years. At 5am on a Monday morning I woke to get ready for work, then fell asleep and found myself standing by her bed. She writhed in agony, mouth wide open in the throes of what I found out later to be her first heart attack of the day.
I woke up feeling unwell and a little disturbed. The rest of the day I suffered chest pains and a splitting headache and on returning home went straight to bed and slept. My youngest brother rang at 7pm and told me she was in hospital having suffered a heart attack, the second one outside the chemist shop in Tweed Heads. I drove straight down with my wife and two other passengers, the eerie forms of my dead grandmother and uncle sitting quietly in the back seat. When we arrived at the hospital I went straight to her room in ICU. Standing at the door the room changed from a dark place filled with machines and mother on the bed, to a bright white room with her lying dead in a shroud. The poem says it all.
A Mother’s End.
It came, we hadn’t spoken for so long.
Was the shared pain so great?
I felt yours in the morning when I flew to your side,
Did you see me?
The hospital room, quiet, clinical,
machines keeping you here.
Your shroud covered body
took its place.
I knew the end was here.
Your face a marble effigy, lines gone.
I took your hand, we whispered ‘Sorry,’
I saw beaches drenched in moonlight
and you, walking alone.
You left us a little piece at a time,
visiting the other side.
Holding your hand I saw them waiting.
Your spirit rose in a ball of light,
a swirl of colours that stopped in mid air.
Were you waiting for me to follow?
I had no tears left,
I’d already grieved.
I think you loved me once,
that was long ago,
Was I your comfort?
You were a casualty of the war of life.
Were your wounds greater than mine?
Why didn’t you shelter me from
the shrapnel of your failure?
Laurie Smith copyright 2013
This photo was taken on the ship coming to Australia in 1960.
It’s the only picture of her where I think she was truly happy.