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Amongst other things, this is a love story.... the theme changes occasionally... this year it is fitness and learning to love yourself.

25 April 2015

Undertakers. #atozchallenge Care for the carers

Two days after her 73rd birthday my Mum took her final breath. She had Alzheimers and Motor neurone disease. For her final 3 months I was her main carer. A privilege I am grateful for and will cherish forever. This years #atozchallenge theme will focus on being a carer / care-giver.

Remember to care for the carers.  


I remember asking her Doctor. "What should I do when she dies?"

He said, 'Take your time. She won't need an ambulance. Just ring the undertakers...there will be no need to rush."

She died the death of a saint, they said. She got up to pray, then died in her sleep.

I don't remember who called the funeral home.

It was before 6am when I phoned the Great Mama of our neighbourhood. 96 years old, I met her at the top of the street. She prayed. I told her what to expect, she settled my nerves. Great Mama has 4 sons of her own. My Mum was her pseudo little girl. 

The circle of 11 women had commenced. Chief, elders, the next generation and a child. Twelve altogether if you count Mum, laid to rest in her bed.

We sat in silence, prepared ourselves and prayed. I sprayed her perfume in the room, on her, on the next generation, also the child. The Elders and Chief supplied a scent of their own. 

Words of encouragement as I removed her jewellery. We started to chat and follow each other's lead. Ancient rituals in a land where she is to be the first ancestor.

The undertakers showed up at 9.30am. I didn't listen to people who said it was time for her to go. At 11, I delayed them again. 

She created her own family in the Lucky Country, there were no relatives. When asked if we were waiting for more family members -  I told them the ones that lived far away were yet to arrive.

An unrehearsed ceremony. We reminisced, cemented a history and finished packing her things. 

By 1pm her finest memories were here to stay. It was time to take her body away. 

A blessed procession, from the house to the street. Once again she was leading the way. 


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  1. This is beautiful Ida thank you for sharing it with us. What a blessed death, and also to be surrounded by those who were in the ancient rituals of ancestors -

  2. I worked part time in a funeral home for a while. They had a special room set aside for Jewish funerals where we usually had one or more guardians sitting with the deceased all night.

    1. How interesting Jo - I love learning about different customs. We visited Mum's body often in the days before her funeral. In New Zealand it is normal to keep the body at the house rather than a funeral home. It sounds positively gruesome if you're not used to it, but I can see the beauty in it too...

  3. Very different customs from what I'm used to.

    1. It was new to me to William... none of it was planned.

  4. Hi Ida - certainly different to what I experienced .. what a fascinating read ... and I'm so pleased she went with her ancestors ..

    Cheers Hilary

  5. What a lovely way for your mum to begin her new journey, Ida. Unplanned, new to you and your mum -- sounds like she will embark on a voyage of adventure. Blessed, indeed. I think she's leading the way for you.

    Samantha Mozart