Saying Goodbye

Sunrise through the roses

Sunrise through the roses

Writing for me is therapy.

And this is about my journey with Mrs. Mac:

For the last four years, my day to day life has been shaped around a strong and determined woman.

My mother-in-law has been sick for some time, but it was only during these four years, that she has needed me to be on call.

Mum always told me, being a carer, or someone that another person relied on, was a privileged position to be in. She’s right. It can also be heart breaking, difficult and confronting.

Without the support of my husband, who spent numerous weeks looking after, not only the farm, but the kids, by himself, I couldn’t have been privy to the fight of this amazing woman. Without the support of my Sister-in-law, who was always on the end of the phone and also spent many weeks down here swapping roles with me, the difficulties times wouldn’t have been as easy to get through. Without my friend, Carolyn and Aunty Jean, I may have torn my hair out on certain days and without the wonderful friends both here in Esperance and who I have met over the internet, my support circle would have been a lot smaller. This is a gift you don’t always realise you have until in time of hardship.

This story isn’t about me. I haven’t done anything that no other family member wouldn’t. This is about what I have learned.

Number One: The small things matter.

Mrs Mac loved shopping and occasionally we were able to cross the road from the City Stay apartments, to Harbour Town and check out the specials. It was important for her to something she loved, even if it meant the hours outing would leave her sleeping for the rest of the day.

Some days I would go into her house in Esperance and find she’d been out digging in the garden – there was no way, she should have been doing that, with the treatment she was having! But she loved it and she had to make exceptions at times, because the outcome was still going to be the same, whether she wrapped herself in cotton wool or continued to do the things she could manage.

Number Two: People need their independence. I was guilty of trying to do too much for her at times. It took a bit of gentle prodding from our wonderful Doctor, Nurse Keryl and Aunty Jean for me to back off. Mrs Mac needed to do everything for herself until she honestly couldn’t. Then I learned, she would ask for help.

Number Three: History matters. Stories which aren’t told, get taken to the grave. Most nights (when she wasn’t in hospital) we shared a glass of wine together. I got hear stories of my husband’s childhood, I never would have. (I also now have some serious dirt on him!) I listened as she told me about hers.

We had many laughs and sometimes a few tears.

On the 28th of August, Mrs Mac’s battle came to an end.

Nothing prepared me for how empty and numb I feel.

Nothing prepared me for the realisation that you can’t take anything with you to the grave. This is Number Four. Of course I already knew this, but as I packed up her hospital room and put her watch in her hand bag – two items she would have never left home without – I finally understood.

What Mrs. Mac’s fight and life has taught me, is that nothing really matters other than your relationship with others. This is Number Five and the MOST important. You can spend all your time accumulating things, but in the end, they really don’t matter. Yes, you may leave a wonderful material legacy behind for your family, but wouldn’t you prefer to leave wonderful memories? Stories that can be recounted each Christmas or family get-togethers? Thoughts that make your loved ones smile when they hear a song, smell a scent, see something that reminds them of you?

I know I would.

Comments 19

  1. Fleur if we all treated each other with tender loving care, imagine where we would be! I love what you did for your mother in law, I only hope when the time comes I get the opportunity to share the stories with my own mother in law and father in law. Lessons learnt are lessons to keep for all of time.

  2. Having nursed and lost my Dad in early August I really need to say thank you so much for sharing this. Have been struggling with my feelings but thank you for putting some of them into words for me xoxoxo

  3. Thank you for your story. You were so lucky to have the support that enabled you to do what you did. Too many carers have no-one.

  4. No wonder you are such a wonderful writer, the way you have just shared your thoughts about caring for your mother-in-law, yes you are so right it is a privilge to care for someone, I have helped carer for both my parents, my mother-in-law and a very dear friends husband and often feel that the time I spent withthem in their final weeks, days, hours were very special, I will always tresure that time, there were times of saddest and times of laughter and always times of love never to be forgotten.

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  5. You have a wonderful way with words Fleur. An awful but awesome experience which often simply can’t be avoided. I’ll bet that your mother-in-law loved the time you spent with her just as much as you did. Precious memories. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. Such an honest share Fleur. As odd as it sounds I would not have missed the last few weeks with my Mum for anything. It was a special time when we both knew the end was near and shared stories between Mother and Daughter as well as between friends.

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  7. You are such a beautiful person Fleur, and I am sure your mother in law is very grateful for all you did for her! And as you said, our relationship with others is the most important thing- that is definitely true. Thinking of you and all your family during this time! x

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  8. We lost my husbands mother on the 29th August Fleur and your words are so applicable. She was a wonderful friend to myself and all her inlaws. Our sympathy is with you all. oxxxxo

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  9. Pingback: My new life | Fleur McDonald

  10. I enjoy reading your blogs since finding you through Outback Paparazzi. I’ve been down this track with my MIL who passsed 4 years ago and I still miss her. I now have the challenge of my Mum who is showing the signs of dementia; the person she is becoming is not my Mum but I know it’s not her but the disease that is being so hurtful to me. Reading what others do to help is so helpful to me . I haven’t read your books as yet but I think I need to soon. It may help me through all of this. I was born and raised a country girl so I know I’ll make it after reading your blog today about a new life. I’ll get started now; yes the weight loss & getting fitter. Happy year to us all.

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