I walked under the old elm trees. It was a cold winter’s day and the air was sharp. There was no one to break the stillness. I was conscious only of the dank smell of wet leaves underfoot and the sheep and cattle grazing peacefully in the paddock across the creek.
At last it was possible to be myself, away from people. My thoughts were in emotional turmoil. Watching death creep insidiously through my mother’s body as cancer claimed her was hard to bear. I tried to grasp the inevitability of losing her. She was noble in her dying, never complained. “Andy’s randy today,” was all she would say when beset with pain.
Relations were staying from interstate to be with her. I was tense with lack of sleep and they seemed an encroachment on my last days with my mother. My thoughts were too profound to cope with the everyday chores of nursing, feeding and entertaining visitors.
I had placed all the photographs of every one dear to my mother on the antique chest facing her bed. Her father who had died when she was twelve, her mother and sisters, children and grandchildren, all representing the value of her living.
My mother was leaving me. The thought left me cold with anguish. The helpless finality overcame me. I watched the cows grazing, oblivious to my sadness, the water gently flowing over the stones on the creek bed and the graceful Willows strengthening my being with their life and beauty. I escaped into the solace which nature bestowed upon me.
The profundity of T.S. Eliot’s words came into my mind: “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past.” It was as though I had never understood the meaning of Eliot’s words before.
After an hour in the tranquillity of my surrounds, I headed back to my mother’s bedside now able to give her the benefit of my renewed strength found in nature. No longer did the visitors seem like intruders, my mind had come to terms with their heartfelt intentions.
My mother went on with her dying.
Now, life is not the same without her. I miss the wisdom she imparted, the unconditional love she bestowed upon me and her strength of character which in adversity always carried her through. I was truly blessed to have known her love. On Mother’s Day I dedicate to her a perfect rose.