There are no Facebook friends I know of who celebrate their birthday today. Instead, I want to dedicate today’s song to my Facebook friend, Philip Ellis, of Leeds, in memory of the sad passing of his dear mother, 78-year-old Irene Ellis yesterday in her Nursing Home. While the past year has been difficult for the entire country with the spread and the effects of the Pandemic Virus Covid 19, for some, it has been the worst of all years.
To have one’s aging parents separated by illness in the autumn of their lives is bad enough for any child to experience, whatever their age or circumstances, but to have them endure a final illness, alone and away from their own home, and to be unable to have their family members visit them once over a full year, is a tragedy beyond all reasonable measure. Then, to experience (as Philip did), seeing his father admitted to a nursing home followed by his physically and mentally decline over an extended period without any family visits being allowed in the meantime, is simply unthinkable. Then, to have one’s father die without the loving touch of a family member at his bedside being facilitated in his last moments on earth is the most unforgivable act that any government of the day purporting to be humane could ever agree to sanction en-masse. To have all the above take place in a country that has always prided itself on supporting the civil rights of its citizens is as bad as it gets; or was, until some heartless civil servant/government minister/prime minister decided that a maximum of six mourners, masked and socially-spaced could attend a funeral service, providing they did not physically comfort each other with a cuddle, and they did not attend the graveside burial afterward!
Before the loss of his dear father, Philip’s mother was also taken into a Nursing Home with the onset of Dementia. Again, due to Pandemic lockdown and other restrictions prevailing in all the hospitals and nursing homes in the country, no visits were allowed by family members to see her in her residence. It is hard to imagine being struck by lightning once, but to be emotionally blasted by two lightning bolts in the same year borders on incredulity, especially when one receives the news of one's mother’s death after the event, and not being there in her final moments.
We feel deeply for you, Philip, and for your family, along with all other bereaved people over the past year who have been forbidden by the government of the day to engage in the humane actions of a lifetime such as seeing, touching, cuddling, and holding hands. I write my comments today as a man who lost his mother and father many years ago now. I know, as does anyone who has lost a loving parent, especially a mother, about the wounded heart that never heals and the hole of grief that can never be filled. God bless you, Philip Ellis, and everyone who has experienced a similar loss.
There is no love as powerful as a mother’s love in our life; it is distinguished by devotion and it leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply by another who is now gone, is to lose a large part of our protective coating that she placed around us in her womb and which she kept around us the rest of our life, shielding us from hurt and harm for as long as she lived. Even the falls she allowed us to experience in our worldly exploration as a young child, when we grazed our leg badly and started to cry, even then, it was our mother’s magic touch that provided balm to wounded pride and skin. Her hands that had hardened and callused over the years as she undertook her family chores softened in their touch of mine. When she held my little hand, as we walked behind the pram of my younger sibling, mum would impart a sensation that was infused with the velvet touch of a special hold.
She was there for us before we were aware of what she looked like. She was there for us whenever we wanted her, and even on those occasions when we were embarrassed and just wanted to be alone and wallow in our own pity. She was there to watch us achieve and to cheer us on, and though we often thought there was nothing to cheer about in our overall performance, she found it and wrapped it in celebratory memory to recall in later years. She was my mum and she was always there, but alas no more.
I love you Mum, more than I could ever say. Always my mother, forever my friend, you were the first woman I ever loved and would be my last. There were times in my life when my mind might be on another person, some pressing activity or other things, but such single thought I was to learn is a luxury not granted to mothers. When you are a mother, however, pressurised your life might be, however many unfinished tasks that remain incomplete, there is no such experience as ‘taking time out’, as I would often do in pursuit of this pleasure or that. No! When you are a mother, you are never alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice; once for herself and once for her child, and though her offspring may grow into one of the world’s greatest mathematicians, it is their welfare that will always count more than hers. Giving birth is seen by any mother as being a labour of love, not the reluctant and expected duty of a loving wife. Having children is never a chore; it just puts the whole world into perspective as everything else just disappears.
Whoever said ‘that though your father is the head of the house, your mother is its heart, and it is she who is the maker of the home’’ was so right. It is a mother’s love that unites and binds her family; it is she who is the sustaining force. When compared to everything else we will ever experience in our life, our greatest dependency and most constant reward will be our mother’s love. Our youth will surely fade just as day turns to night, and our body beautiful, shall in time, fall foul of advancing age, corpulent lifestyle, and sustained neglect. Even our stomach will be transformed from rippled muscle to fatty flab, and quietly surrender to the absence of exercise, the change from nutritious diet to fast food, and the passage of time. And yet, throughout these spent years of our adult life, while all else around us invariably changes, it is as though we magically expect our mother to be the same as she has always been to remain the one constant In a world of growing uncertainty. It is as though we consider our mum to live outside the gravitational pull of the poles; somebody who will forever be immune to the laws of physics and nature. It is as though we still perceive our mother to possess those magical properties in her body that enable her to have remained untouched and unchanged since our days of infancy.
It Is therefore the greatest of all shocks when we learn of mum’s illness, and as the seriousness of her medical condition comes home to us, it is the uncomfortable presence of this new thought that finally stops us from being a child for the first time in our life. We are obliged to accept that mum possesses no more magic balm to rub away her own hurt, She has used every bit of it up over the years tending selflessly to the needs of her children and the endless affairs of her family.
Now that you are gone, Mum, I know that your influence over my life will never desert me. Though it is true that no child ever really knows if they were planned or came into this world as ‘a happy accident’ of parental love, what I do know is this. I know that I always loved you and you loved me. Whether my birth was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, I know that once I came into your world, your life was never the same. I know that just as you leave me now, neither will mine.
I love you, Mum. I always will. You are ‘The Pal of My Cradle Days’.
Love and peace to all dearly departed mums.