The Strength Of A Widow

Daddy passed away exactly eight days ago today and in that short time, the transformation of my mother has been nothing short of amazing. I have always admired her strength and courage, first as her daughter and later as woman and friend. She has never been one to back down from a challenge, no matter what life dished out. My grandfather’s words have echoed in her mind throughout her life, and she passed those words on to me: if you are going to come home crying, you better make sure it was because you have a good fight behind you. In other words, don’t walk away without a fight.

She struggled through the 18 months of daddy’s illness, watching her husband disintegrate little by little, and holding his hand through it all. She did not wince when she had to initiate the post-mortem care for him. Nor did she hesitate to kiss the forehead of his cold, lifeless body mere minutes before cremation. Mommy has allowed herself a few tears, but she has had time to grieve over the past year. Now she is ready to fight back and face widowhood with strength and courage despite her own battle with memory loss.

Mommy is moving house in two days. There is no beating around the bush with this woman, and here I mistakenly thought she would drag her feet about disposing and moving. On the contrary, I am the one struggling to keep up with my 82-year old wonder woman! Her failing memory has its advantages and disadvantages. She forgets days and has no notion of dates anymore, but the sense of today and tomorrow is still there, which means she needs to know immediately whether she is moving today or tomorrow, and if not, why not!

My super senior is excited about having her own new apartment, with everything cosily set up around her, and this enthusiasm is contagious. She wants to travel, eat out, and enjoy life. It wasn’t too long ago when she told us not to cancel flights and change travel plans because of Daddy’s eminent death. “Let’s lead normal lives, take care of the living” she said when I was ready to throw everything up in the air. I may be turning 50 next year but I still have much to learn about courage from my mother. I am the better organiser between the two of us, but she is the stronger woman. Granted, we are both stubborn, fiercely independent, and want things done immediately in our own way, but she has the uncanny ability to bounce back with the most stunning resilience, never wallowing in self-pity or resentment.

While I grumbled yesterday as I sorted out papers and threw out piles of outdated and inconsequential notes, she calmly looked over and said, “don’t get mad, let’s just have a barbecue and use all that paper to light a fire, although there is so much of it we might burn the meat!” Then she said we should go on a holiday after all this is done, but I said first it was my turn to do the rounds with the doctor, to which she retorted “well don’t go in  your present mood otherwise he will confine you immediately!”  She has got to be one of the cutest 82-year olds to grace this earth.

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