Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother-less Day

This is the third celebration of Motherless Day for me (don't tell Hallmark, or they'll be creating a new line of cards ...).

And I think of some of my friends who have lost their mothers in the last few years; of some whose mothers left them a number of years ago; and of some who are losing their mothers bit by bit, breath by breath, in the cruellest goodbye of all:

Bronwyn, Allan, Cathryn, BethAnne, Deborah.

Jane, my sweet Jane, who led the way for all of us.


Jackie, Diana, Ron and Rick.





Naomi, Edwin, Lydia, Rachel, Johannan, Sarah, Hepzibah, Salome, Solomon.



Connie and Kathy.


Dorothy's four children, still just babies really.



Margi, Jenny, Ryan, Lindsay.


And Alyusha, dear Alyusha, whose loss is so new that she has to remind herself to breathe, so raw that every inhalation feels like knives vivisecting her, so sudden that she still has to ask herself if it really happened.

Just this Wednesday past I was privileged to attend the funeral of Mavis Hoel, mother of three. Dad was part of the service. Her children, each of them, rose up and called her blessed. They said that the greatest thing about her was that she just "was".

She "taught [them] how to be," as Elliot said about his own dear grandmother, my mother, on the day of her funeral.

How can one person leave as great an impact in her absence as in her presence? It doesn't seem to matter if your mother and you were extremely close or if it was difficult for the two of you to be in the same room for too great a length of time; if you thought she was the last word on anything you needed to know or if you sometimes wondered when she would get a clue; if you agreed on almost everything or if you argued about many little things: when she is no longer there you feel like a traveller without a compass (okay, okay, a GPS!).

You feel like an amputee: the part of you that gave you life has been amputated.

I have never forgotten the terrible morning my Mum's mother died. I was living in Mobile and Mum and Dad called me up in the small hours to tell me. In between tears, Mum said softly, almost a whisper, almost an afterthought, "I'm an orphan."

That is what I remember from the conversation. I prayed I would never have to know what she meant.

I now know what she meant.

You don't know where you belong. You don't know how you are going to carry on when the co-author of the beginning of your life from the second of your conception is no longer keeping track of the history and the progress of your life. You wonder if anyone will ever know you like she knew you.

You suspect not.

And yet, on this Motherless Day morning my own Bronwyn - herself a mother of two boys - rose up and delivered the message; I was not able to be there, but my family told me the text was taken from Isaiah chapter 49:

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands
Your walls are ever before me ...

Not just our name is engraved, but our very self is engraved. We are always with God.

God knows us.

God, a father to the fatherless.

God, a mother to the motherless.

God. Knows. Us.

And so this evening, on our busiest Mother's Day ever at the TH, when several people thanked me for mothering them when they came to visit, I whispered a word of thanks to God my Mother for mothering through me.

And I asked Her to give my mother, Patricia Christeen O'Halloran Ironside, an especially good visit with her mother, Marjorie Grace Brown O'Halloran.

Happy Mother's Day.

1 comment:

  1. I love you, Karyn Christeen, named for your mother. Her gifts of strength, courage, devotion, sacrifice and loyalty mixed with a good helping of canny wit and humour, finished with intricate feminine delight all live on and are reflected in you. Her children rise up, starting with the first, and not only call her blessed but also bless her in the land that is fairer than day. I love Mum too ... and her beloved husband, our Dad - today united in parenthood as though time stood still. Love you xxx


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