From a son to a mother
On his mother’s death, this adult son looks back on what she means to him and his family.
I feel short of words when I begin to try and fully describe my Mum. I suppose it’s that feeling of loss flooded with memories of so many happy and sad times, old and new, but great all the same.

One thing I do know, Mum would not want us to be sad for her passing, although it is impossible to let her pass without many tears, so many have fallen. As she was leaving Cape Town after having been told her chemotherapy wasn’t working and with the risk of her flying home, I thought I would never see her again, I leant down to kiss her goodbye. She touched my face and looked into my eyes and said, 'smile boy – you are not allowed to be upset, you will make me upset.' Just smile.

Please pledge with me today, because I know she would want it this way - remember her only in joy and happiness. That is one of the gifts she leaves for all of us. Cancer defeated her body but it did not defeat her soul. The human spirit is much more powerful than any biological disease. And this is so true with my Mum. I saw this in such clarity in her final days.

A strong, warm and welcoming heart with a fighting spirit. Jen holds a place in all our hearts that no one could ever fill. They say memories are golden and it is so true but memories can’t replace you Mum. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died.

My Mum was nothing short of an inspiration to me. Simon and I have so many lucky stars to thank that the hands of fate placed us in the unconditional loving care of two incredible parents who I can genuinely say I am so proud to have had in raising me.  I cannot think of Mum without thinking of Dad. He was so much a part of who she was, just as we are.

I arrived in my mother’s arms exactly 25 years to the day she was told she had pancreatic cancer.

Her love, care, commitment and devotion to us boys made her the mother and wife she was. Her love was never selfish and extended to all who were privileged to know her. Her interest in people, families and life were the core of the home she built for us.

One particular holiday while driving around England and after going around a roundabout umpteen times, Dad said, "Jen, stop pointing out castles and hand the bloody map book to Dan in the back." Mum was no good at directions but she sure knew what she wanted out of life.

Death is the great clarifier; it shows us what is important but Jen knew long before her time, the simple pleasures were enough. The real things; relationships with family and friends, shared laughter and life.

No matter where I was in the world, I always knew I was close to my Mum, because there was always an email in my inbox. Two lines about her day were enough and I always had comfort in hearing her voice filled with love, advice and encouragement. She even managed to learn to text to be able to be in contact with us. It’s what made her so happy.

Mum, I will miss the long walks we all took together as a family in Nyanga and around the gardens in the evenings – looking at the progress of every tree you had planted and where next to put more.

I will miss falling asleep on the carpet as you sat reading your book by the fire. I will miss sitting on the verandah having tea with you. I will miss shouting through the house, ‘Mum I can’t find it’ and always knowing that your voice will come from upstairs in my moments of frustration. I am not very good at finding misplaced things.

I will miss sharing stories of my adventures and showing you my photographs. You were always so proud of the both of us and our achievements.

I will miss coming home to you. I will miss sitting with you, talking to you, holding your hand. I will miss saying good night to you and your big hug.

Although nothing seems the same, Mum I carry your heart with me; I carry it in my heart. I will never be without it, anywhere I go, you go.

In life we loved you dearly. In death we love you still.

I am because you were.

We are because you were.

Thank you.

I love you.

This is an extract from Dan’s eulogy to his mother on her death last year. Read the full text and the emails he sent to family and friends on this blog.

What would you say to your mother or father who has passed away? Comment below, or mail us on
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