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.
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.
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”.
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…. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…..
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
8 thoughts on “My Sister’s Garden”
Ain’t love grand ?
Can’t get over your “wet winter’s day” photo. Here in Nova Scotia, there would be nary a leaf in sight and most likely all would be covered in snow …
What a lovely garden, and lovely memories to go with it. I loved the musical “Cats” – I went to see it several times back in the day – and know that song very well. It is quite poignant.
On 30th August 1993, 20 years ago as well -whilst you were with your dear Mother Joanne – I was standing with my dear big Brother – aged 55 – he was dying of cancer and finally succumbed on the morning of 1st September 1993..he never wished for a funeral of sorts, and died in the hospice at Redcliffe Q’ld. The chaplain at the time was a catholic priest and he came in to see us at that time, my Mother, my Sister, John and my Brother’s Wife, that’s all..and even though he/we weren’t catholic – he said a prayer at the end of his bed and the sign of the Cross, and left, we thought that was so nice, as my brother was agnostic but at that time – it seemed very fitting..and was so appreciated…My Brother wished for his ashes to be put into the sea at Moreton Bay by his best mate, who lived on Bribie Island, where my Mum lived..and so – he took them out in his boat and gave them to the sea which my Brother loved at all times..
Yes, we both shared a sadness at almost the same time, my Brother who wanted no fuss at all – the Man of the Sea.. Yes, we all have our vivid memories and we shan’t forget those loved ones who are no longer with us, and we can still talk to them too, – if we wish to do so, why not? I often ask my late Mum where something is – and it’s not long after and I find it, strange, isn’t it – you can do the same too..a typical example – I noticed that I’d lost a diamond out of one of my rings, one of Mum’s rings – when I was washing my hands in the bathroom – oh no, I thought where is it, it’s down the drain it couldn’t be..I felt devastated – and not long after I thought – go to the laundry trough, but why? – and there on the bottom of the s/steel trough – was a little stone – I picked it up and sure enough – it was the missing diamond – I remembered then, that I’d done some hand-washing in the morning – and so – yes, we can talk to our loved ones, and maybe, just maybe we’ll get an answer..this happens to me so often – John is amazed..I guess I should be too, but I just want to let you know Joanne that you are never alone – wherever you are – whatever you do, and try to be happy now because of that.. Estelle..
This is a beautiful tribute to both your mom and your sis, Joanne. You are a fortunate woman, indeed, to have been surrounded by them your entire life. I live far from my sisters and my mom, and I wish I could spend birthdays with them – maybe one day. ❤
Can’t imagine what it will be like to say “Goodbye” to my mom some day. So very sad. This, however, is really beautiful in so many ways.
Gardens seem to be the sanctuaries of so many memories. Whenever I see a peony I think of my great-grandmother. She died before I was born, but my grandfather told me how much his mother prized the red peonies in her garden! It’s been 22 years since my mother died and I miss her, too. Sisters are very special people – all the things we’ve had to face together, all the tough decisions, it would have been unbearable without her. It was touching to read your tribute to your mother, Joanne. And your sister’s garden is magical…
Beautiful, touching post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I can understand how you feel about your dear mother and sister. I went through the same moments, saying “au-revoir” to my mother although she never left my heart. I feel so happy when people say I look so much like her. My sister is so precious too, just three years younger, quite different from me, we complete and understand each other so well. I love her deeply. Your post made me realize how important some people are in our life and how often we should say so to them. Gorgeous pictures of your sister’s garden.
Beautiful post, Joanne, honoring your sister and your mum. Vivi’s garden looks like a place where magic happens. 🙂