It’s a little more than 24 hours since I last wrote. It’s a beautiful sunny morning. I’m sitting in mum’s garden,which is really a small paved space surrounded by native plants and lush greenery. It is both pleasant and genteel. Sitting here I can hear the kids play in the kinder over the back fence. I can imagine spending many a happy day sitting here listening to those happy sounds.
It’s been a big 24 hours. This time yesterday I felt almost becalmed. In a few hours my mum’s funeral was set to begin, but there I was, alone, my preparations done, waiting. I realised that the toughest part in doing all this alone was not the sheer scale of stuff needing to be done, but the solitary nature of it. I needed no help with anything, but it would have been nice to have someone to rub up against in those hours.
I say that knowing that an essential aspect of my nature is independence. And though it was a big job I think I wanted to do as much as I could by myself. Part of that is the control freak in me – I’d rather do something right myself than trust to someone else. The bigger part of it though is that I wanted to shoulder this myself as a modest tribute to mum. It was always so important to her that we do things right. I wanted to make sure of that for her.
Soon enough it livened up. I ironed my shirt and was pulling on my trousers when Kylie and family arrived. Soon after came others. Though by now I was busy I had to join someone to pick up the booze for the reception, which is when the first mini-disaster occurred. Stepping up into the SUV I suddenly felt my trousers tear. “Fuck,” I thought, and said aloud. And this my good Versace suit!
While the booze was being loaded I ran up and down the street looking for a patch to tide me over. No luck. Back at the house one of the girls put a few makeshift stitches in my pants. Then I headed off to the church.
There were people everywhere. It was still half an hour to the service but many had come early. I did my thing, conferring with funeral directors and ministers and meeting people and receiving their condolences. Up to then I had been so focused and controlled: now I felt that control slide.
As I expected I had many people come to me with tears in their eyes, kind words in their mouth. As they cried I felt the tears come. I said what I could, agreeing what a marvellous person my mother had been, thanking them for all their support, and for their presence. I managed, but felt the words catch in me again and again. I wondered how I would be standing up to deliver my eulogy.
The church filled, the service began. In no time I was called to the pulpit. I felt in a focused daze, if that is not contradictory. I stood and looked about me at the crowd there watching me, and I began to speak.
Earlier in the day I had told myself to look upon this as a challenge to overcome. Often that works with me because it goes directly to my pride, even my competitive spirit. Win this moment, be strong.
As it happens it worked. It was not easy – at times the words felt very raw – but I didn’t falter, and what I said felt true and right. I was doing this for mum.
I remained standing while Blaine made a speech too about his Nonny, and sat when the the other speakers took their turn. They were all very good.
The service was just about right except for one thing. Mum had entrusted the officiating to her next door neighbour, a retired clergyman. He’s a lovely guy if a bit aof a duffer, and tends to waffle. Unfortunately he waffled at length yesterday, and, sad to say, waffled on about arcane religious trivia rather than the subject of the service. Very little of any real meaning was said about her, and this despite the great lengths mum had gone to to make sure that she had every relevant detail. I was as pissed off as I could be in the circumstances, and felt like giving him the wind-up.
Afterwards we returned here. I don’t know how many came back – perhaps 80? Besides family and friends and mum’s Probus friends I was lucky to have my dad fly down from Sydney for the day, and have friends of mine come to support me. You’re so busy, and I guess a tad stressed with everything happening, and so it’s hard to properly catch up with them. It means a lot. I guess that’s what I meant earlier – nice to know that there is someone in my corner.
Anyway, I’m a bit woolly now because I did my best to unwind. I did my social duties for a while mingling and so on. Then I just chilled as the crowd thinned to the hard-core support group, including Cheeseboy, who was great – he’s such a sensitive guy, and a great supporter. And of course Donna, who has been wonderful throughout looking after me. When I sent out the news Saturday that mum had passed I got a text message from her an hour or so later telling that she was “on the doorstep waiting to give you a hug.” She’s been great.
Overall the day was good, or as good as it could be. This morning I got slowly out of bed, then began the job of cleaning. I’ve put things away, thrown the empties in the bin, washed plates and glasses. I have a cleaner here right now doing the rest.
That’s it. It’s done. After all that normal life is somewhere near. Of course it’s a different normal life from before – a life without mum. Today is the first of many without her. I’m fine, better than I thought I would be, but perhaps a bit numbed. There will be moments I’m sure, but I know the only way is up.