A Sense of Spirit · birthdays · gardening · Mum · sisters

My Sister’s Garden

A Rose for Mum.
Flowers for Mum.

On the morning of Monday, the 30th of August, 1993, I dropped my son off at school, saw my daughter into her pre school-class and with my nine month old baby I visited my mother for the last time. Mum had lapsed into a coma on the Saturday afternoon so we knew the end was near. Up to that particular morning, before leaving my mother’s bedside I could only say to her “see you later”. The thought of never seeing her again terrified me. On this day, twenty years ago today, before leaving her room I noticed a pulse beating in her neck, she was still alive. Then I said the words I had feared ~ “Goodbye Mum”, yet the words came easily; it was time for me to let her go. Later I was told that a nurse saw me leave the room. She went in to check on my mum ~ she had gone.

Today, as I think of my mother, the angel and guide of my life for the past twenty years, I would love to take you all for a walk with me around the beautiful garden of another very important woman in my life, one who also lost a part of her own soul twenty years ago today, my sister, Vivien.

Azaleas
Azaleas

“Daylight
See the dew on the sunflower
And a rose that is fading
Roses whither away
Like the sunflower
I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day . . . ” ~ Memory from the Musical “Cats”, one of Mum’s favourite songs.

Cows across the road from Vivi's home. Such a beautiful view from her front door.
Cows across the road from Vivi’s home, grazing by the river. Such a beautiful view from her front door.

Having three sisters, all of whom were substantially older than me, may have robbed me of the fun times as a child of having sister’s for playmates, but the blessing it gave me was the joy of having three extra “mothers”.

Take a seat....
Take a seat….

Vivi is my closest sister in age, she is twelve years older than me, and it was Vivi who mothered me the most throughout the years when I was growing up. We even went through a stage when she spent a considerable amount of time yelling at me, as I rebelled against her when I was a teenager! Now that’s real love…. 🙂

....we can read a story together.
….we can read a story together.

My own children adore their auntie. My youngest son Adam said to me recently “there’s nothing to not like about Auntie Vivi”, and I totally agree with him, she’s just wonderful.

A very pretty bird, one which I don't see at my place.
A very pretty bird, one which I don’t see at my place.

If my sister lived closer I would definitely see her more often. Vivi lives six hours drive south of me, so when Adam and I took our trip down south in late June I planned it so that we would be at Vivi’s place to help her celebrate her birthday this year.

This is a bird that stays put in Vivi's garden.
This is a bird that stays put in Vivi’s garden.

One of Vivi’s sons, his wife and two children came around for dinner. Vivi had asked for take-away Chinese food, which she doesn’t have very often, for her birthday meal so she wouldn’t have to cook on her birthday, so that’s what we had.

Keeping an eye on the time.
Keeping an eye on the time.

Vivi is a fantastic cook and can throw together a delicious meal in no time at all! As a child I loved sleep-overs at Vivi’s home as her meals were yummy, her beds were always soft and comfy and we did fun things together, like cooking and going shopping.

The Zen Garden.
The Zen Garden.

During another visit to my sister’s home just over two years ago, her grandson told me about all the fun things he and his grandma do together when he visits her. It was like deja vu for me to hear him speak. “I used to do those things with your grandma when I was a little girl too!” I told him. I’m not sure that he could quite grasp the concept of the age difference between me and Vivi though, and why I was a child when she was an adult!

Every garden needs at least one bird bath.
Every garden needs at least one bird bath.

The day I took these photos it was raining although the dampness did not put a dampener on the calm atmosphere in the garden, if anything the duller natural light and the raindrops created an even more ambient atmosphere. I can imagine how beautiful it must be on a sunny day. These photos were taken on a wet, midwinter’s day.

Vivi isn't a huge cat lover, so instead of Puss in Boots" she has "Frogs in Boots".
Vivi isn’t a huge cat lover, so instead of “Puss in Boots” she has “Frogs in Boots”.

I am definitely pleased with the photos I took that day and I just love the whimsical ornaments Vivi has in her garden. Vivi and her husband have lived in this home for around nineteen years now, the same length of time I have lived in my home, but I remember her previous home in the Blue Mountains which had a full-sized wishing well in the front garden. It was magical.

No chance of this slow moving guy getting too far away!
No chance of this slow moving guy getting too far away!

Our mum loved her garden and preferred large, brightly coloured flowers to the dainty, paler variety. Anything unusual caught her eye and she was very fond of cactus plants and succulents. One of her favourite plants was her Zygocactus and I was thrilled to see Vivi had one in a hanging basket in her garden. They are not a particular favourite of mine, although I think I should get one. They bring back wonderful memories of the excitement my mum showed when her Zygocactus flowered.

One of Mum's favourite plants, Zygocactus.
One of Mum’s favourite plants, Zygocactus. And the bird in the small cage is an ornament!

Vivi loves frogs! She has quite a few in her home and around her garden, ornaments that is. I made her a cross stitch of three frogs in lily pads a few years ago. It took me ages to finish but it was well worth the effort as it looked fantastic when finished and framed.

Frog art in Vivi's garden.
Frog art in Vivi’s garden.

Before the night of Vivi’s birthday was over, Vivi’s grand-daughter asked if we would like a photo taken together. Jess is a lovely girl, and at age nineteen she speaks with Vivi as if she were her friend and not her grandmother. Vivi’s eldest son and family couldn’t make it for her birthday, he has three children, two sons and a gorgeous little daughter. I hope someday I have the same close bond with my grandchildren.

Me and my big sister Vivi.
Me and my big sister Vivi.

Mum wasn’t overly fussed on the colour pink, she preferred yellow, but I’m still going to show you Vivi’s pretty pink Azaleas, and I will leave you with another verse of “Memories” from Cats, a song that my mum loved. I know she remembers, I know she loves us, I feel her with us; it seems like only yesterday I heard her laughter, felt her hands, combed her hair. How can it possibly be twenty years…..

Raindrops on the pink Azaleas.
Raindrops on the pink Azaleas.

“Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again…..”

I love you for Eternity Mum. xxxxxx