This week last year I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing an old lady’s house, when I heard that my mother had had a stroke. It was very stormy and I couldn’t travel for a day, and then, because I knew it was serious, I tidied up my affairs before taking the long journey to South Africa.
Looking back, I see that my mother consciously and actively decided to go on a journey, to die. She tidied her house and gave away her belongings, and she withdrew from people. She didn’t stop talking or become silent, but her conversation was more and more about the past, and she became an observer of the present, rather than a participant. She remembered her life, the happiness, not the sadness. I once heard her say that the most joyous day of her life was her wedding day – how I envied her – and she often spoke of my father. She spoke of her parents too, and a childhood that must have been carefree.
I miss her, but I remember her courage in taking that last journey, and I know I must find the strength to live through the next two weeks, as I remember.
The Daily Post Challenge is what to do with a gift of $5,000,000 which has to be given away. Well, that is easy!
I would set up a charity to which I would give the money. The money would be invested and would go on supporting the aims of the charity in perpetuity.
The charity would be educational. It would support very talented young musicians, and it would educate school children, young adults, and the general public in the delights of music. It would also support very talented young writers and poets.
I would also leave all my own possessions to the charity on my death, and I would, during my life, encourage like-minded people to join me in creating a sizable educational foundation which supports music and writing.
I am nervous about facing the next weeks. I returned to South Africa on 29 April last year, and my mother died on 5 May, at 3.45pm. I have flashbacks when I remember that last week in vivid detail – I don’t think one ever achieves ‘closure’, whatever that may mean. I think I am managing but then I see a photograph, or something from her home, and I remember. Death is so silent.