My plan for the anniversary of mum’s death has been thrown into chaos. It turns out that Ross has a workshop on that day that his company has already paid for and he can’t get out of it. I retreat into my shell, feeling hopeless and desperate. We fight about it. Eventually we decide to ask his parents to come down to look after August for me. Ross tries to console me and says he has gotten the next day off work instead, and he will do all that he can for me then. He calls his parents and they agree to help – they will babysit their grandson so I can have some time to grieve. I feel relieved. But I still feel so alone.
The anniversary of my mother’s death is on Wednesday. I suffer all week in the horrid anticipation of it. I am flooded with memories that rip through my soul.
My cousin Lara comes down to stay with me on Monday. We talk, and laugh, and drink. I am comforted by her delightful presence, as always.
I have sent out letters out to all mum’s family and friends. They are enclosed in pink envelopes, labelled, ‘Open on the 1/09/10’. They all contain the same thing. There is a letter from me, asking them to think of a memory they shared with my mother, and to write it down and send it to me. I want to make a book of memories to give to my children when they are older. I have included a memory of my own to share. Along with the letter I enclosed a CD of songs that remind me of her. They are all songs to inspire those she loved, some upbeat energetic joyful ones, and some sad, grieving ones. Hopefully they will give them some kind of comfort on the day.
Lara has brought her letter and CD with her.
Lara decides the stay on Tuesday night so she can be with me in the morning. Ross’ parents are coming down late morning so she will probably go back then. Bless my little Lara – she is like a sister to me. We grew up together, and we shared so many memories with my mum, her Aunty Ellie …
The Esperance Poo Snake
Ellie suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. This was the result of an unfortunate fall that she had upon a plastic dolls foot when she was a child – a most unpleasant incident. It left Ellie with limited control of her bowels. Somehow she did manage to acquire excellent sphincter control over time with practice. However, sometimes this failed her. There are many amusing poo stories that have emerged over the years because of this impairment. But perhaps my favourite is the tale of the Esperance poo snake …
Ellie had organised an extensive road camping trip with me, her sister-in-law Anne, and my cousin Lara. I was ten at the time, Lara eight. At this time Lara was fondly referred to as Pie due to a jumpsuit she had as a baby. The suit was lemon yellow and because she was such a fat baby she looked like a deliciously plump lemon meringue pie. The name stuck. On this trip we were also accompanied by my Lakeland Terrier, Lacey Rose (procured and named by Ellie).
On this particular sunny day we stopped at the beach in Esperance for a swim. The water was crystal clear and magnificently inviting. There was no-one else swimming in the secluded spot that we sourced at the bottom of a rocky cliff. Pie and I ran down and dived in, immediately initiating our regular mischievous games. Anne and Ellie soon followed and took a relaxing dip in the cool waters.
We were happily enjoying the refreshing exercise when Ellie began to experience some discomfort in her bowel region. Quite used to this situation, and confident in her ability to control the situation, she decided to keep swimming and to go to the toilet later, refusing to let her bowels come between her and a luxuriating dip. She did, however, feel that a well-timed fart was needed to keep things at bay. This was not in the least unusual. Each of the other members of the party were quite used to being subject to Ellie’s vivacious wind-giving episodes. In fact, they sourced much amusement from the sounds that Ellie’s arse was capable of. Sure of an excellent audience Ellie announced proudly that she would be forced to let a fart out. Anne responded by gently paddling out of the near vicinity, completely non-phased, whilst Pie and I continued splashing nearby, unperturbed. Ellie assumed the wind position, leaning forward slightly, and contorting her face as she squeezed for that welcome relief.
But what happened next was quite unexpected to her. Ellie exerted herself a little too much and unbeknownst to everyone else, allowed a long, tidy, yellow poo snake to inch its way into her bathers, as the momentous bubbles of the wind it brought with it rumbled to the surface of the water with hearty, meaty urgency. Before Ellie could take appropriate action, the entity slid up her bathers and popped freely into the water. She, realising what had happened, hoped that it would be dense enough to sink. It did not. The rest of us heard the rumbles and saw the tidal wave of bubbles and giggled amongst ourselves in mock disgust.
Ellie turned to Anne and said, quite matter-of-factly, ‘Thank god I’m only with you Anne. That one got the better of me’.
Anne was slightly perplexed by this statement until she saw a long yellow snake innocently pop its head up near Ellie. Ellie looked thoroughly relieved, but she was a bit abashed by having followed through, and slightly alarmed by the fact that she could hear voices coming down the beach toward them. As Anne was making a speedy getaway toward the safety of the hygienic sand, Ellie began the process of attempting to get her embarrassing snake to break up and sink. She did this by diving down to the bottom of the ocean, retrieving a handful of sand, coming up and dumping it upon the drifting monstrosity. But she was having exceeding difficulty in getting the damn thing to break up. It arrogantly remained perfectly whole and meandered on, gently bobbing toward Pie and me.
Ellie, becoming more frantic, as she had convinced herself that the tourists were coming down for a swim and would catch her with the evidence of her own shameful poo snake in tow, enlisted the help of me and Pie. As she threw more sand on the wretched thing, she half-screamed half-laughed, ‘Girls, help me, for god’s sake!’ Pie turned around just in time to see the product, still fully intact, bobbing ominously closer. I also spotted the thing just in time. Realising what exactly it was we too turned to flee to the safety of the beach, leaving Ellie desperately trying to hide the evidence of her filthy crime.
After engaging in this endeavour, very unsuccessfully as the poo refused to sink and continued on its merry journey through the ocean, Ellie began to get her nervous hysteria and nearly drowned herself in fits of laughter as she staggered to the shore. By the time she emerged the entire party was hysterical, and would remain so for many hours to come. We did, however, decide that it was best to move on to another spot without too much delay.
I wake up on the 1st of September and feel instantly hideous. It has been a year since my mother died … But then I look at my son and I smile. I go through my normal daily routine with him – change him, feed him, cuddle him, play with him. Then I put him in his bouncer and take him out onto the front veranda with me as I have my morning coffee.
Lara drags herself out shortly after. Bless her being an early riser. She has bought her pink envelope out with her. She opens her letter and I put the CD on. We listen to it in silence as she reads what I have written. We both remember. Both our minds are a discordant array of both beautiful and horrific memories. As we are listening I silently go and get a bottle of Astiricadonna Ruby. I pour us two large glasses.
We sit on the front veranda, listening to the CD, and drinking champers, at eight o’clock in the morning. We drink the whole bottle and begin to openly reminisce about her. We laugh together. We laugh at August, who is happily chatting away to his moose in his bouncer. We let the moments of sadness rise up between us in the fresh morning air, and we respect them. Lara is a beautiful presence on this most hideous of days.
Marie and Geoff – my in-laws – arrive soon after. I will leave August with them and take some time for myself. Lara makes her pensive journey home as I leave my home to honour my mother …