A couple of weeks ago, my mum sent me a whole bag of her jewellery. It was stuff I’d coveted since I was in nappies – gorgeous old brooches that belonged to her mum, necklaces and earrings. Many of the earrings were ones I’d given her myself, so, you know, impeccably tasteful stuff.
I called her the following day (she lives in QLD) and asked if everything was OK. I joked that it felt like the final acts of a woman who was about to shuffle off this mortal coil (our conversations are peppered with Shakespeare references). She assured me that, no, everything was fine but that I’d probably appreciate the bling more than her.
I hung up the phone feeling incredibly sad. She’s just turned 77, is still sharp as a blade, but it hit me that she’s 77. She probably doesn’t have all that much time left. She’s beaten breast cancer in the past couple of years and I suspect her body just feels. tired. We are close, but haven’t lived in the same town since 1989, so I don’t see her all that often.
My mum is not a particularly demonstrative person, it’s not her thing. Some people call her standoffish, aloof, but she’s not really. She’s introspective and kind and strong and sometimes I don’t understand her motivations, but she’s always there if I need to talk about anything. When I was in my mid 20s, I felt like she couldn’t be bothered with me – she became very close to my brother when I was overseas and gave him a lot of intense support during that time. It pissed me off and I mentioned it to her (I may have had a couple of whiskeys by this stage), and she turned to me and said, “Kimberley, I’ve never had to worry about you. You were always the strong one, the independent one. Your brother needs me more right now” (aka: get over yourself and go climb K2 or something.)
She’s right, of course, I’m a bit of a life warrior and I’ll wear the hell out of her marvellous bling as that is why she sent it to me, but I can’t help feeling that she’s starting to tie up all her loose ends. When she goes, the world will lose a wonderful, vital, exceptional woman who never made me and my brother feel anything but loved even though her “I love yous” are few and far between.
Our relationship isn’t perfect, but then nothing ever is.