A Sense of Spirit · blessings · dad · daughter · memories · Mum · spirituality

The Final Hour

My father had this photo of my mother, at age twenty-one, enlarged and framed after mum was gone.
My father had this photo of my mother, taken when she was twenty-one years old, enlarged and framed after mum was gone.

It was on this day, a Monday morning twenty-three years ago, that I said goodbye to my mother. I could have said she died, or that she went to heaven, but I don’t feel comfortable with either of those terms, as she is still with me today.

After so many years, some of the details have escaped my mind – was she in hospital at the end for one week, or was it two? How many days did my eldest sister and father sit at her bedside, from morning until night, awaiting the inevitable, wanting to be with her when she took her last breath? Why did the two of them ask me to try not to cry in front of her, as I watched her slip away?

So many years have passed and a million new memories have been made, yet I remember the significant details of this particular morning, twenty-three years ago, as if it happened only yesterday.

My youngest child was nine months old. At 9:00am, I dropped my two older children off at school and pre-school. I left home that morning planning to head home immediately, do a few chores and visit mum in the afternoon. But The Universe (or whatever the force was) had other plans for me. I found myself turning off the main road and heading to the hospital to see mum first.

Why did I make that choice? To this day I still have no idea. But as it turned out, that impulsive decision would lead to one of the most significant and memorable times in my lifetime.

My baby and I entered an empty room, all but for my mother laying silently in the single, metal hospital bed. Mum liked a soft mattress and I often lamented the board-like shelves they liked to call ‘beds’ in this place and wished my mother could beat this demon that kept her imprisoned in the stark cell. I wanted to see her return home to her pretty purple and gold bedroom, the one she had taken such care to decorate. But that wasn’t to be.

I felt so at ease sitting beside mum’s bed. She had become comatose sometime during the weekend yet I felt sure she knew I was there. She could hear me, I knew it, so I spoke to her. I told her that my baby and I were visiting her, that my father and sister hadn’t arrived yet, that we were alone. I looked at her hands, the right hand holding the left, and took a mental photograph of her hands, to hold within my heart forever. I never, ever wanted to forget my mother’s healing hands, her creative hands, the hands given to her to carry out deeds of kindness during her time on this earth.

I touched mum’s snowy white hair. It felt so soft, even during her time of illness. It was so fine, so beautiful…I told mum that I wanted to remember every detail of how she looked, so that when she had gone, I could see her any time I wanted to in my mind’s eye.

About half an hour had passed, yet my father and sister still hadn’t arrived at the hospital. I expected them to bustle in at any moment, interrupting my visit with mum. They arrived early every day. Something held them up that day and I was glad for the time I could spend alone with mum.

After a while, it occurred to me that mum may have slipped away. Her chest wasn’t moving, but when I touched her face I felt the warmth of the skin on her delicate, fair face, and I admired the beautiful English complexion that I had inherited from her. And when I looked closely, I saw a pulse beating in her neck. She was still alive.

During my childhood, my mother had visited various sooth-sayers. She needed to know what the future held and constantly sought guidance. Mum’s mother had died when mum was only ten and mum told me that she always felt the spirit of her mother beside her, guiding her, protecting her. As her daughter, I had no doubt whatsoever that my mother was the wisest person in the world. She knew the answers to every question imaginable and if she lacked the definitive answer, she had an opinion. Mum’s wisdom, to me, expanded the bounds of earthly comprehension, yet she doubted her abilities. To reassure both myself and my mother during that last visit, I told her she could continue to contact me, that if she ever wanted to speak to me all she need do was send me a sign, I would be waiting and know it was her, and I would visit someone clairvoyant so she could pass messages onto me.

I looked around the private hospital room at the white walls, trying to see what it was that my mother had seen before slipping into a coma. During previous visits, as I sat beside her watching her sleep, her eyes would suddenly spring wide open, yet she didn’t seem to see me there. She would look around the room at something only she could see. One day I asked her what she saw when she looked around the room and she told me they were closing the door soon. I looked at the bulky, grey sliding door and asked her why they would bother closing it and she shook her head no, repeating, they are closing the door soon.

The resident psychologist had visited my mother’s room a few times while I was at the hospital and after mum speaking so adamantly about the door closing, I found the psychologist and asked her if she could decipher the meaning of what mum said. I told her I didn’t think mum meant the physical door of the room. The psychologist told me she had heard the same thing said many times before by patients who only had a few days left to live. She assured me that there was more going on around us than we could see and that the years in her profession had provided more questions than answers. I asked her if she thought that mum’s ‘door’ was the door to heaven. She didn’t know that it was the door to heaven as such, but strongly believed it to be a door to another place, a place that we couldn’t go to.

Being around my mother during the last weeks of her time on earth, watching her changing actions and hearing her cryptic words taught me lessons she didn’t realise she was giving me. I had always suspected there was more happening around us than what we could see with our eyes, but twenty-three years ago I was still sceptical. Now, thanks to the lessons that my mother still gives me, I feel another dimension of life surrounding me. I know there is more to this world, more to human beings, than the physical aspect.

My mother seemed so alone and vulnerable, lying in that dreadful hospital bed and I knew that mum hated being alone. While I enjoyed (and still do, to this day) time spent alone with my own thoughts, mum was the opposite. She needed to be surrounded by people, otherwise she felt neglected and alone.

Before I left the hospital room on that final day, I said goodbye to my mother. Every time I left her prior to that day, I would tell her when I would return, saying to her ‘see you later’. I couldn’t let her go. This day, I knew I had to.

After buckling my baby girl back into her car seat that morning, after leaving my mother for what would be the last time, I switched on the car motor and the radio came on – playing ‘Mum’s Song’ – Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’…

I’d only been home long enough to tidy up the breakfast dishes when my husband arrived home. He just looked at me, saying nothing. I asked him if she was gone, yet it was more of a statement than a question.

Minutes later, dad phoned me. He and my sister had arrived at the hospital just after I left, only to be met by a nurse…

He told me the nurse had seen me leave the room. Moments before leaving, I had seen the pulse beating in my mother’s neck. When the nurse walked in, just after I said goodbye to my mum, she was gone.

For twenty-three years I have waited to write mum’s story in its entirety, yet couldn’t. It’s difficult to write through tears and my heart couldn’t cope with the sadness. This year, I can write from the place of a beautiful memory. There are no tears, although if I heard Eric Carmen’s song at this very moment, I’m sure the tears would begin…

It’s not easy saying goodbye to your life-line. That’s how I felt on that Monday morning, twenty-three years ago today. I didn’t realise it then, but losing the physical presence of my mother was a gift…

For the next five years, up until dad decided to join mum on another August day, my father became a real person to me. Without my dominant, chatty mother around, we became close and I learned how much alike we were. He, like me, enjoyed his alone time, yet there were times when dad and I would sit and talk for hours. During a five-year period in time, I got to know my father. He told me his stories, from his point of view. Dad supported me, yet allowed me to fall. Mum had always been afraid to see me get hurt, protecting me to the nth degree. Through her love for her child, she unknowingly impeded my growth. Dad gave me my wings and set me free.

My mother has never left me. There is a golden thread that joins our souls, a thread which can never be broken for eternity. Mum knows now that she must allow me to grow. She gives me the freedom to handle things my way, whilst standing beside me every step of the way. She doesn’t need to have all of the answers for me any more – I can find my own truths, yet she often sends me messages. I never visited a clairvoyant, I don’t need to; I feel mum’s guidance when I need her.

I love my mother to the depths of the deepest ocean and to the heights and width of The Universe. I know she arranged the time I had alone with her that last morning, with the help of those in the room who I couldn’t see. When I said the word goodbye to her and after she knew I had left the room, they helped her to close the door behind me.


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

Pennies From Heaven


“I found a penny today
Just laying on the ground.
But it’s not just a penny,
this little coin I’ve found.
Found pennies come from heaven,
that’s what my Grandpa told me,
He said angels toss them down
Oh, how I love that story!”

~ Author Unknown.

The # 1 hit song in February 1964 in both Australia and the USA was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles, and in the UK, “Needles and Pins” by The Searchers. And just by coincidence, the 10th of February, 1964, was also a Monday.

“Monday’s child is fair of face”, or so the old rhyme goes, and to me, the baby in the photo above, taken in 1964, and born on this day 50 years ago, has always been fair of face. And he holds a very special place in my heart.

I don’t remember the day he was born, I was too young, and try as I have over the years, all I can remember about this time in my life was my mother telling me that we “have to save our pennies for the new baby”, so I did. And one day when I was shopping in Penrith with my mum, as she stood at the counter in the delicatessen placing her order, I spotted a big jar of pennies, high above me on the counter. “So this is where we buy the baby when we’ve saved enough pennies!” my young mind thought.

I last spoke to him at Christmas time when he phoned. “It’s your cousin Jeff!” he told me…..”No, It’s my nephew Jeff!” I corrected him. “Oh whatever, I’m pi**ed!” he told me. A bit too much “Christmas” perhaps, and knowing my nephew, no doubt he will enjoy a bit too much “birthday” today as well, being the fun-loving man he is.

Today he turns 50. Today it is 50 years ago that I became an auntie for the first time. Today, he is on a cruise somewhere around the Pacific Islands with his wife, celebrating.

Holding her young baby boy in the photo is my eldest sister, Annette. She’s been gone now for six years and Jeff’s grandma for 20 years, but they both loved him dearly. Maybe today, they will send him some “pennies from heaven”, as their way of letting him know they are thinking of him, as I know they will be.

Happy 50th Birthday to my dear nephew Jeffrey, the cheeky baby boy that my mum called “A Little Buggeroo!”, the young man who became one of my sister’s closest friends and the son she always knew she could rely on.

And to me, he’s the baby boy who cost us lots and lots of pennies, but was worth every one of them; my childhood playmate; the young teenager who followed me around and tried to “copy” the clothes I wore (luckily, as a teenager I wore jeans and t-shirts a lot, he would have looked hilarious in a dress!); the serious young man on his wedding day; the cousin who my children remember as the “fun” cousin when they were growing up; the son who misses his mum every day; the grown man who still loves his family; the nephew who gives the best bear-hugs.

Jeffrey ~ A Blessing. x

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.


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.

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

A Sense of Spirit · blessings · daughter · gratitude · Mum · son

Mother’s Day 2013.

Happy Mother's Day to my friends.
Happy Mother’s Day to my friends.

“The most precious jewels you will ever have around your neck
are the arms of your children.” ~ Unknown.

I write this the morning after Mother’s Day, on a cold and misty Monday morning here in Australia. There was no time for sitting at my desk yesterday, I was far too busy enjoying my four children, who all spent most of the day with me for Mother’s Day.

We enjoyed lunch together, ate way too much food, followed by cakes and coffee. My mother-in-law was here as well and the four of us girls chatted away together at the dinner table long after the meal had ended, while the boys watched football matches on the television.

What more could a mother ask?

If really pushed, I could answer that question in an instant ~ if I could have seen my own mother at the table with us, chatting with us as she so loved to do, oh, how wonderful that would have been.

I know she was here, I just couldn’t see her. She visits me often, I know, and I do talk to her, I just don’t hear her replies.

That’s the way it is though, with mother’s and their children, the bond lasts forever, nothing can ever part them, and we rejoice in the new generations whilst holding the past generations still very close to our hearts.

With the time differences throughout the world it may still be Mother’s Day in your part of the world as you read this now, and if so, I wish you the happiest of days filled with the love of your children in your heart. And even if, like me, you are too busy with your babies and are reading my wishes after the actual day, the wishes still remain. Don’t you think that every day is a very special day in the world, when we are the mother of someone?

I know I do.

So, from my heart to yours, I wish you the happiest days forever and always, days filled with the love of with being a mum. xxxxxx

My mum and me. This tiny doll stands at only three inches tall and was saved by my mum for many years after I had finished playing with it.
My mum and me. This tiny doll stands at only three inches tall and was saved by my mum for many years after I had finished playing with it.
Australia · autumn · dad · Mum · photography · Tweed Valley

Towns of the Tweed ~ Hastings Point

Hastings Point Headland

Hastings Point is a sleepy little village situated on the Tweed Coast Road, just south of Tweed Heads. I first visited Hastings Point as a small child, back in the days when mum, dad and I would leave our home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, for our annual camping trip, and head north.

The waves roared and crashed against the rocks.

Those were the days when I would listen to my parents as they talked about the day they dreamed of, when they could move north, to enjoy the warmer climate and a more relaxed lifestyle. They did eventually pack up our lives in the Blue Mountains in 1971, selling everything, to live the rest of their days in their dream world. (I have written the story of our move north, and if you are interested in knowing how the Sea Change came about, it can be read here.)

A few of the locals.

Isn’t it funny how you see things through two different sets of eyes, one when you are a child, another when you become an adult? The Hastings Point I see today is a far cry from the caravan park I recall from my childhood days!

Hastings Point has the most beautiful, breathtaking, rocky headland. To reach the rocks you must climb down from the grassy area above, but my photos begin as we were sitting on the grass, eating fish and chips for lunch, and sharing our food with the ever-so-hungry seagulls!

Looking for an easy lunch offering.

There were other people there that day, eating lunch on the grassy hill overlooking the ocean, but before long nearly every seagull had invited themselves to dine with us!

A seagull giving his interpretation of a hovercraft!

Not only did they walk up and stand right beside where we were sitting, some tame little guys decided that if they put on a show and performed like a little hovercraft in front of us, perhaps they stood a better chance of scoring some chips! And it worked… 🙂

The waves below crashed against the millions of rocks, sending sheets of white spray high into the air. The power of the ocean in itself can take my breath away!

Where are the people?

I spotted a small boat out to sea, which looked rather…well…empty! I zoomed in on it with my camera, and sure enough, there wasn’t a single soul on board. Perhaps the tiny boat was anchored, whilst the occupants headed overboard for a spot of scuba diving.

As the tide was quite high, the natural rock pools were filled with water and we could see the sun gleaming on the shallow water captured within the rocky surrounds.

Shallow water captured in the rock pools.

After lunch (ours, and the seagulls!) we decided to climb down the rocky embankment. There was so much more to see, and with the hill not being too high, it would be an easy decline down the hill. Beside which, I was wearing sensible shoes!

To the south of the point, Byron Bay, the most easterly point of Australia is visible.

The rocks at close range were amazing! The shells, the creatures, the colours, the salty air, the waves, the roaring sounds of the ocean…it was all so magical!

The next day we would go back, to explore the rocky areas below.

But…low tide would be early the next morning, and besides which, my camera battery had gone flat!

Low growing, flowering plants, thriving in the sandy ground.

The next day, we returned….more photos tomorrow. 🙂

I was surprised to discover such pretty plants growing at the beach.