Sadly my mother passed away yesterday afternoon after failing to recover fully from a bout of pneumonia. It was also just a mere three months after my father's death in October last year. But at least she wasn't in pain and it was relatively quick.
The quality of her life had deteriorated considerably over the last couple of years anyway, largely as a result of losing her short term memory. In fact, she never really took it in that my father had died and she still often thought he was still around. Unfortunately, I was unable to be by her side at her actual passing away, but I did manage to visit her at Christmas, just over a month before. I will always cherish my last conversations with her, mostly about the past, as her long term memory was still good.
I think her main quality was the completely unconditional love she had for her children. In fact, in almost every way, she was the perfect mother, always willing to sacrifice her own happiness for the benefit of us, always putting us first. She was always there in times of need. And even to her dying day, she still cared and worried about us. Her compassion also extended to needy people and animals as well. She literally wouldn't kill a fly, but would brush it out of the window, such was her love for all living things. She was a true humanist in every sense of the word and showed us an example of humanity at its best.
Coupled to this was her incredible modesty. She was always self-effacing and never pretended to be anything, despite actually being overflowing with good qualities. She was always apologising for being a nuisance even in the most mundane of situations. It was a pity that was surrounded by dominating characters and that my father and her own mother (my grandmother) didn't encourage or support her more, so that she might have developed the kind of self confidence and strength she deserved to have.
But being of the war-time generation she had that typically strong sense of commitment to duty and unswerving loyalty to family. No matter how difficult their relationship became she always stood by my father, such that they were married for over 60 years, and she also tended to her own
mother in her old age with unstinting devotion.
So to sum up, she excelled in every role in life, as a daughter, a wife and a mother. And if there is a heaven, I'm sure that's where she is now, for surely there has rarely existed someone more deserving than her. Her reward will truly be in heaven.
The top picture was taken in Dorking in 2006, while the bottom one was taken just last Christmas in 2011