To my Mum on Mother’s Day

It always amuses me when people are asked for their ultimate dinner party guests and inevitably reel off a list of celebrity names in response. Celebrities? At my house for dinner? Pah. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than stressing as to whether my glassware was spot-free enough to impress some minor royals while crossing fingers that the prosciutto-wrapped chicken isn’t too calorie-laden for weight-conscious Hollywood A-listers. And what on earth would we talk about? Oxygen facials?

No, if I was having the ultimate dinner party, it would be filled with my real-life heroes, not people I watch from afar on a screen or sporting field. People like my sister, my best friends and my parents. People like my Mum.

Toddler kisses.

Toddler kisses.

If you were to ask my Mum to describe herself, she would use an array of non-specific words. Words like ‘ordinary’ and ‘normal’. They’re not the words I would use, however.

My Mum, Cath, has lived an extraordinary life. She was the second eldest in a family of five children and the only girl. She’s the first to admit that her earliest years were not easy with 4 ratbag brothers and no one to play dolls with, so much so that when she fell pregnant with my sister she wished fervently for a girl, purely so that I would have a sister to grow up with.

Waving Dad off to work, 80s style.

Waving Dad off to work, 80s style.

When Mum was 14, she came down with a virus she just couldn’t shake. She had regular fevers, blood noses and weight loss. Doctors were baffled; it wasn’t until my grandfather insisted on a blood test that a diagnosis was made. Mum had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, or ALL.

In the early 1970s, this diagnosis was effectively a death sentence. My grandparents were told that while treatment would occur, their beloved only daughter had, at best, six months to live and they should treat her well for what remained of her life.  They were also advised not to tell Mum of her diagnosis, believing it to be too much for a teenager to cope with.

But you see, no one had told Mum that she was supposed to die.

So she didn’t.

Pink was big with Mum, my Nan and I.

Pink was big with Mum, my Nan and I.

Aided by a team of young, well-connected doctors, Mum fought on. She left school at the end of Year 10, as was custom then (and the logic was, if you’re going to die, why do you need a High School Certificate?) and began working in a bank, where she met my Dad. Six years after her diagnosis, ALL in remission, she married him. Her doctor, as proud as could be, was in attendance and would later be one of the first visitors to the hospital when both my sister and I were born.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know what cancer or leukaemia was, but Mum has never let it define her. Most of her friends would be surprised to read this and learn of the monumental battle she fought and won at a time when very few, if anyone else, did.

Hanging out at Katoomba, 1985.

Hanging out at Katoomba, 1985.

But that’s just my Mum and her attitude to life. She is fiercely competitive and loves a good challenge. Heck, this is a woman who took up marathon running at 48 because she was bored, despite never having run before in her life. She’s now run marathons throughout the world.

So today, on Mother’s Day, I want my Mum to know that she is top of the list when it comes to my ultimate dinner party guests.

Don't judge. It was the 80s.

Don’t judge. It was the 80s.

Mum, I want you to know:

I am so grateful for the examples you have provided to me of how to be a woman in a strong and loving relationship – whether that’s as a wife, as a mother or as a friend.

I am so grateful for the way you have proven to me, time and time again, that anything is possible if you want it enough.

I am so grateful for the sacrifices, choices and commitments you have made and continue to make for us.

I am so grateful for the courage, confidence and support you have given me throughout my life.

I am so grateful for your unconditional love and warm, open arms.

I am so proud to be your daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mum.

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Comments

  1. Wow Koren, what an ode to you mother. She must have done a fantastic job, given how you turned out. You are a fabulous daughter. Cheers to both of you 🙂

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