As you will have noticed, I haven’t been writing much lately. The reason for that is that I spent time with my mom, who passed away on New Year’s eve. I was fortunate enough to spend quality time with her while she was in the hospital, to say my goodbyes, and to hold her hand as she passed. For those who know me, you know that she played an important role in my life. For those of you who met her, I am sure you will agree that we lost a remarkable person.
The memorial service is in a few hours, and here is what I plan on saying (translated from French):
Mamantje, that is how I called my mom, we will miss you. On the one hand we cannot complain. Just as I was telling my son, who loved his grandmother, we get sad when people leave us too early, or when they suffer too much. Neither one of those was true for my mother. She had a beautiful life, she did not suffer, and she was able to say her goodbyes to (almost) everyone – she was able to leave us without having any unfinished conversations.
Of course, it is also hard to say goodbye to someone you love so much, especially someone with whom your relationship was built on unconditional love, like mine was with mom.
You will remember my mom for various reasons – but also for common reasons, like her sense of justice, her sense of humor or her strong will to live life fully. We were able to witness examples of all those characteristics throughout her final hours. Like when she got feisty with a nurse who was treating her unjustly, or when she told us not to worry about the back of her head when we washed her hair one last time – explaining that you face God in front and that he could care less about the back of your head. Or when she found the strength to communicate with us all the way to the end, long after the doctors had told us that she had moved on to a different world.
Me, I will remember my mom for three reasons, reasons that have guided my life:
- Her insatiable hunger for knowledge – she could not get enough, she was a permanent student of everything that went on around her, and also of the history that preceded those events. I remember buying her books that gave her headaches and that forced her to buy special dictionaries to understand them – she just loved it. She also loved travelling; especially making what she called cultural trips, for the same reason.
- Her determination and her strength of character to achieve her goals. She was very little when she lost her mom, and very young when she decided that she would become “Somebody (une Madame)” with a nice family and children. She lived her life without ever deviating from that course – and she approached everything she did with the same determination.
- Her love: for her, it was just as Jacques Brel used to say. In her world, love reigned and she was the queen (and sometimes also the benevolent dictator). She understood, long before Paul Coelho said it recently, that when love rules, power disappears, but when power rules, love disappears.
Mamantje, we will miss you…tremendously. And like Francis Cabrel said so nicely in songs that you used to love when I played them for you since I was 18-20 years old, for me you have always been a Star in your own right. I hope that you will now take your place among them in the skies.