Category Archives: giving

The Day After Mother’s Day

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”  ~Washington Irving,  American author, essayist, biographer and historian  1783– 1859

Mother and me 1995

With Mother shortly before she died

I have read lots of lovely tributes to mothers from other bloggers.  And they were certainly worth reading.

Unfortunately, my Mother and I didn’t have the greatest relationship once I grew up.  I guess because I was the middle daughter and my elder sister was sick (first polio and then rheumatic fever) and my younger sister was ‘the baby’ I quickly grew to rely on myself.  Not that my Mother wasn’t a loving and caring person, we just never developed the close relationship that each of my sisters had with her and from reading yesterday’s posts, many of you obviously have or had with your mother.

Because of my independence I didn’t involve her in my life as much as she would have liked.  I was the first to marry and move away from home.  Having said that,  as my husband was away quite a lot at the time, I stayed with my parents in the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birth and Mother was there for me.

And even though I moved away from London, she was there when I had a couple of miscarriages, coming up to Scotland to look after me and her granddaughter.  She also came to stay when I had my son.  This was her way of showing how much she loved me.

We kept in touch over the years of my travels around the world, by letter and the occasional (very expensive) telephone call.  Wednesday was my day for writing letters home – both to my parents and my husband’s father.  I have carbon copies (are you old enough to remember carbon paper) of many of those letters.

Thank you

And once I thought it was time to say thank you to both of my parents for the love and support they had given me.  So I wrote them a letter telling them how much their love meant to me, and hoping that my children would be able to say how great their childhood had been because of their parents.  Mother never commented on the letter but after she died Father told me how pleased she had been to receive it.

And as I have grown older and look back on my life, I know there are ways in which I could have shown her how much I loved her.  But I didn’t and while she looks happy to be with me in the photo she was suffering Alzheimer’s and didn’t know who I was.

So to all you people out there who still have your Mothers and Fathers, take the time to tell them how much they mean to you.  It’s too late when you are attending their funeral – Let them know when they are alive that you appreciate all the care and love they bestowed upon you.

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead my midnight.  Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster.  Your life will never be the same again.”  Og Mandino, American Author, 1923 – 1996


Photo - Ed Dear

Mother’s Day – what else?

Mothers' Day Poster

Mothers’ Day is not a big celebration here in New Zealand although all the shops have a great selection of Mothers’ Day cards.  The media play up the day but for many of us, it is just another Sunday.  But Mothering Sunday has been celebrated in England and the rest of the British Isles over many centuries.  For more information on this go to.

As a family, we have never made much of this day.  When I was growing up it was almost ignored.  Maybe because of its origins dating back to when it was considered important for churchgoers to visit their home or “mother” church once a year.  In a society where children often worked in other villages from a very young age, it quickly became a time for celebrations and family reunions.  This also became a day when children and other domestic servants were allowed a day off to visit their families.  Gifts obviously, were simple and today they run the gamut of flowers, candies, chocolates and other tokens of appreciation.  Often a Simnel cake would be made by young girls in service to take home to their mothers and this became synonymous with Easter and Mothering Sunday in the UK.  But I suggest/suspect it was a little more simple than this recipe from Waitrose in the UK. Where would simple servant girls get these ingredients?

But we had Simnel cake at Easter if not on Mothering Sunday.

ThanksHere in New Zealand I have had telephone calls from each of my children – thank you, Cate, and thank you, David.  And that is the sum total of how we celebrate Mothers Day in our family.

So Happy Mothers Day to all my friends out there in the blogosphere.  May your day be blessed with visits, calls and gifts from your children, or if this is not the way you celebrate this day as a family, may your day be blessed with calls and thoughts from and about your children.

I found this when looking around the internet.  I think it is quite lovely even if we remove the capital G and replace it with a lower case one:

A baby asked God, “They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?”  “Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”

The child further inquired, “But tell me, here in heaven I don’t have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.”  God said, “Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel’s love and be very happy.”

Again the child asked, “And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don’t know the language?”  God said, “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”

“And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?”  God said, “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.”

“Who will protect me?”  God said, “Your angel will defend you even if it means risking it’s life.”

“But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.”

God said, “Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you.”

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, “God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name.”

“You will simply call her, ‘Mom.'”  Anon

Red Roses

Roses for all you mothers

And one of my favorite quotes from Alice (because I do live on the other side of the world)

“What if I should fall right through the center of the earth… oh, and come out the other side, where people walk upside down.”

Thursday Afternoon Blues

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1926 – 2004, Swiss-born psychiatrist and author.

MPH LogoThursday afternoon always finds me in an introspective mood.  Because this is the day that I serve lunches at our local hospice.  Sometimes Thursday lunch is a joyful experience as I mentioned in past blogs; sometimes it is sad and sometimes, like today there is a general air of disquiet, unease about the place.

There was no particular reason for this.  But smiles met with pained expressions from those going through painful experiences both physical and mental.  Even those patients whom I had interacted with before seemed particularly withdrawn.

So I asked myself, why would this be.  It was like a miasma had descended on the place.  In my reading and learning I know that thoughts can affect not only people but also places.  I clearly remember the feeling that was left in the church when there had been a funeral immediately before I ran a wedding rehearsal.  The grief, anguish and tears felt and shed at the funeral were palpable.  Yes, some of the other people who worked at the church were skeptical when I said this.  But I do believe it is so.

I began to think of myself in this situation.  Coming to the end of my time here on earth.  How would I react?  How would I cope with this smiling person who asks me “How are you today?”  This of course, is the way in which we normally greet somebody.  But this is a far from normal situation.  The person to whom I am speaking is nearing the end of their journey in this life and they obviously are not great.  So I have to rethink my greeting.  If anybody can help me with this I should be most grateful.

I then got to thinking about how I could make my transition from life to death easier for my children.  When my husband died 13 years ago it was very sudden and we really had no idea what he would have wanted, apart from knowing that we had both discussed cremation.  My children took over the planning for the funeral without any real idea of what their Father would have wanted.

Some weeks later, when the dust and the fog in my brain had cleared somewhat, I found a page on which he had written the kind of funeral and the hymns he would like.  Well, it was too late.  The funeral had been held.

So I have put together a file for my children so there will be no question of what I want.

  • I want to be cremated and my ashes placed with Robert’s
  • I want the funeral to be in a church not an undertaker’s parlor
  • I don’t want lots of eulogies – I would rather people said nice things about and to me when I am alive
  • I don’t want lots of flowers and prefer the money to be donated to Mary Potter Hospice
  • I want my son and daughter and my grandsons to be pallbearers
  • I want my friend and organist at Old St Pauls to play a hymn – Jerusalem
  • I want there to be singing as well as the hymn.  I recently attended a ‘joyous’ funeral.  And this is what I want.  For many years my mantra has been “I hope you dance and I particularly want my favorite version  played – “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack.

Oh and I really like this poem and would ask my daughter, she of the fantastic voice, who read “Stop all the clocks” by W H Auden at her father’s funeral, to read this:

She is Gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins, English author, poet and artist.  1958 – .

I am sorry to be so serious today, but I truly believe that we should all make provisions for our passing out of this life into the next (if that’s what you believe).  In any event, we are going to pass out of this life at some stage.  My children took over all the funeral arrangements after their Father died.  I would like to think by this forward planning on my part, the chore will be easier for them the second time.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. “ 1817 – 1862, American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister,  historian and philosopher.

Paying it forward – A Cascade of Cooperation

“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed.  A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”~
Amelia Earhart 1897 – 1937, American aviation pioneer and author.

Many of you may have seen the movie ‘Pay It Forward’ based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  Some like me, will have read the book.

This is a moving story about Trevor McKinney a 12-year-old boy in a small town.  His teacher gives the class a challenge and a chance to earn extra credit.  They have to come up with a plan to change the world for the better.  And they must put the plan into action.

Trevor does a favor for three people and when they ask how they can pay him back he tells them that instead of paying him back they should pay it forward.  They need to choose three people for whom they can do a favor and then tell those people to pay it forward.  I have seen it described as a human chain letter.

One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone does something for even one other person then the cycle begins and like a pebble in a pond, will grow exponentially.  Hopefully in this way we can become better people with the world a better place in which to live.

In a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote:

“I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you  meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.”

But one person can make a difference and the ripple effect can go on and on.  Look at this video to see how one man’s action started a chain reaction that changed the lives of seven other people.

I was reminded of this yesterday.  I had parked in town and thought I should be longer than I actually was.  When I returned to my car there was still 45 minutes unused on the ticket.  I offered it to the person waiting to take my park.  This woman was amazed that I would do this.  I suggested that in future if she found herself in the same situation she give the unused portion of parking to another person.  Hopefully she will do so.  Imagine the ripples of something this small.

Then think of other things to do.  I am a very active senior and so I can get about and do things for myself.  But others are not so lucky.

  • Can I take them to the store or go to the store for them?
  • Can I pick up somebody from my street who is walking to the store?
  • Can I pay for the coffee of another person in the store?
  • Can I put some change in a parking meter (we still have them in some streets in our city) when I see that the meter is expired?
  • Can I drive somebody to a doctor’s appointment – or a dentist or whatever?

The list is endless.  And none of these things cost a lot of money.

And what about volunteering?  Every charitable organization needs volunteers.  How can you help?  Can you give time to serve meals; read stories; help people in the final stages of their life write their stories?  There are plenty of things we can each do to make this a better time and place.

And if in helping somebody, that deed is recognized and passed on, we have made a start in the right direction.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.  ~Author Unknown

And another quote from my favorite author Lewis Carroll but this time from ‘Through the Looking Glass”

“Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

And here is a gift for all of you who will pay it forward today:

Bouquet of roses