Forrest Gump loved his mama. He tells us many things about her, most famously; “My mama always used to say that life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.” Bastard box of chocolates. Two days after my last blog I got me one of those that cracks your back teeth and rips your fillings out. Ripped my heart out more accurately. Saturday 26 November was a beautiful scorcher of a day, but it was also the last day my mother would ever see. While I was having chocolate for breakfast she sent me a photo of herself at a market in Simons Town. She was happy at the start of a new business and it showed. At 16h00, nearing the end of a speech she was giving at an old age home where she did charity work, she collapsed with a brain aneurysm. She never regained consciousness. On Christmas Day, after twenty-nine long days and nights, and at the age of what had been an active sixty-two years and two months, she died peacefully.
Since 26 November I’ve tried to write a few times. I even got so far as to write a blog at fourteen days after her aneurysm. I wrote it full of hope and optimism, wanting to believe the positive possibilities the doctors were painting at that stage. But I couldn’t post it, I deleted it in the end because in my heart I didn’t believe it. It sounds otherworldly to say it but I sat at her bed that night of the 26th November and I knew she was gone. I hoped desperately to be wrong but that night I felt the absence of her as surely as her hand didn’t feel mine. That feeling of her absence never left me. Over the weeks my brother prayed at her bedside. My sister spoke words of love, gave her facials and massages. I’m grateful to them as I wasn’t as good as either of them. I tried to talk to her. But there were days I could only cry.
I’m no Forrest Gump but there are many things I could tell you about my mother. How full of life and energy she was. How she loved beautiful days. How she had a million friends. How strong and determined she was. How strongly she loved. How deeply she held her faith. How she had a bright pink wig for Zumba classes. How we agreed on some things and disagreed on many others. How we could drive each other mad. How she had a difficult 2016. But there’s too much to tell, I would put even Forrest to shame. I can tell you it’s been a long hard road since that last blog. And of course, I know that Christmas Day wasn’t the end, it’s just the start of a different hard road. But as I start out on that road and wish you and me a truly Happy New Year, I remember the last time I saw her and the last conversation I had with her. She was facing many uncertainties but she was ready. “Whatever happens in the new year, I’ve just made up my mind that it is going to be a learning experience. I’m going to embrace whatever it brings”, she told me as she fixed her lipstick before she left for the next thing on her schedule. Her WhatsApp status still reads “Life is fabulous and embracing new opportunities.”
So, that’s the thing I most want to remember and tell you about my mother. She always used to say that Life is Fabulous, that it is to be embraced, whatever it may bring. I think I’m going to go with that rather than the chocolates if you don’t mind.
And with that my friends in the computer, I wish you and me a Fabulous New Year full of life and energy, friendship, family and love. Embrace it, whatever it may bring.