Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Death In The Family

On the 17th April at 2.20 in the morning my mum died. She woke up and told her nurse that she was not feeling well and asked for a glass of water. She went and sat in her chair and a moment later passed away. For us her family she had, in a sense, died about five years before. So badly had her mind disintegrated that she did not even know her own name or even who we her children were. It is only when someone you know has dementia that you realize how much of a person their mind is.  Their body tells you this is them but much of what they do and say is of a stranger. 
Brought up in the Depression mum learned very early to be self-reliant. Her education at Emily McPherson College stood her in good stead throughout  all  but her last  few years. She was a skilled and creative dressmaker, cook, cake decorator and transformer of old junk into much sort-after objects. She could eye a patch of ground or an off-cut of fabric and in no time and with seeming  ease turn it  into a lovely garden corner or an attractive blouse. In her last years just for the heck of it she  would go to flea markets and buy unpromising pieces of furniture at knockdown prices, repair,  paint or varnish  them, upholster  them and sell  them for very substantial prices. She was good with things.      
People were another matter. Mum was quick to take offence and just as quick to cause it, she was petulant, demanding and incapable of admitting she was wrong. At times she could be breathtakingly selfish. Her relationship with her parents and siblings was always stormy as it was with her husband and children. During her last 20 years she was happier than she had ever been, living alone, pottering around in the garden, reading and visiting the places she had always wanted to go. For us her children our regular phone calls and occasional visits were a nice way to keep in touch without having to    spend too time with her.
Mum’s passing evokes mixed emotions. I’m relieved that her physical self finally caught up with her mental self. I feel a touch guilty that I was never able to love her as much as an offspring should be able to. I am sad that her life did not see more peace, satisfaction and fulfilment. And I have a strange awareness  that  something of what I am has ceased to be.            


brahmavihara said...

Dear Bhante, my heart felt condolences for the passing of your Mother. Although I was only slightly aquainted with your Mum I was glad to have known her and from what you have said it seems that her passing was peaceful after her long struggle with dementia.

Ananda See施性国 said...

My condolence, Bhante.

Phyo Pyae Sone said...

I am so saddened by your news,Bhante.
My sincere sympathies and condolences for your loss.
Good to know that her final moment was peaceful.

Linda said...

Dear Bhante, also saddened by your news. My mother was very difficult and probably mentally ill all her life. Very independent and a huge bully, when she needed help she could not trust those around her and she didn't convey that she needed help. In fact she continued to reject it. So she ended her life. This left on the rest of us an additional burden above and beyond the ones we already had. Healing has been a long process. She died in 2009. It's important to acknowledge the feelings that you do have. Hopefully your family is not into judgement and does not assault members whose feelings are different from what some would like. One teacher I had said your mother is your mother because she gave you life. That is what you should thank her for. If she was able to love you, care for you, etc., that was a bonus. Too often we have a huge fantasy of what our mother should have been or be. Apparently it's another one of those things we need to acknowledge and let go of.

Blogger said...

Dear Venerable,

My heartfelt condolence to you.

Warm Regards

Sam Vega said...

Please accept my condolences at this difficult time. Losing your mum is always hard.

Cittalaya said...

My condolence, Bhante

reasonable said...


Hotel La Canela said...

My condolences. You can prepare yourself for years for the death of loved ones, but it still hits you hard when it does occur. And thanks for a great blog, which I read with a lot of interest as part of my journey.

What I like and what I dislike said...

My condolence, Bhante. As the other people here say, one is never prepared although one always know that live will find an end some day. My thoughts are with you and your family.
With Metta ...

David ( said...

My condolences.
Anicca vata sankhara
Uppada vaya dhammino
Uuppajjitva nirujjhanti
Tesam vupasamo sukho

Alessandro S. said...

My sincere condolences, Bhante.
I am myself getting ready for my mother's time to come, as she's in her eleventh year with Alzheimer.

Kwek said...

Palms clasped. Bhante, may your mother be well and happy.

Rashmi said...


Anicca vata sankhara
Uppada vaya dhammino
Uuppajjitva nirujjhanti
Tesam vupasamo sukho.

Happy to read that she did not suffer and had a comfortable last moment.

I understand Dementia as my mother too is suffering from that.

Rashmilal Ariyasinghe.

tere said...

I chanced upon your blog from Gachi Muchi and it struck a chord. Birth is but the beginning of death. I took care of my mom who had alzheimers for 3 years before she suddenly passed on. I watched her suffer as I myself suffered. When she died all my memories of her from the time I remembered the comfort of her lap by the beach, yes, I remembered that time even before I was one, till my adulthood, flashed before my eyes.
My condolences.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and comments, and to those who have rung and emailed. Much appreciated.