Monday, 21 September 2009

Old Friends

Last night my mum rang and I could tell from her voice that it was bad news. It was. My oldest friend – who has lived in Australia for the last 30 years – has just lost her mother. She went into hospital for a routine assessment and then Lin's Dad got a call to say she'd died.

This has upset me more than I could have believed. I hadn't seen Lin's Mum for about 15 years, and Lin and I don't keep in regular contact (her working hours preclude writing letters or emails) and the time difference – essentially when we're up they're in bed – make phone calls difficult. But her family and mine became intertwined from when we were both 4. As we're now both 51, that's quite a long time.

My mum and hers met at the school gates when Mum was shoving a weeping me into the playground, feeling like a monster. Lin's Mum came up to her and said, “This is my third child and I still feel terrible. Shall we go and have a cup of tea?” And from then on we were all good mates.

So I can only imagine how poor Lin is feeling right now. To lose your mum is bad enough. When you're the other side of the world it's so much worse. Trying to organise her several jobs, looking after all the animals while she's gone – whether to bring her son with her – all these things to take into account – as well as trying to get a flight. And the fact that here - “home” - isn't, of course, and hasn't been for so long.

From my point of view, this is also a sharp and painful nudge as to how I will feel when my own dear Mum goes, and none of us like to be reminded of that sort of thing.

I waited till I thought Lin would be back from work to ring her. For some reason I was extremely nervous – wanting to say the right thing. I dialled, fingers shaking, and listened while the phone rang and rang on the opposite side of the world. I could imagine her coming in, running to grab it – but the answerphone clicked in and that oh so familiar voice apologised for being out and told me to leave a message.

I got as far as, “I've just heard about your mum and I'm so so sorry,” and that was it. Tears welled up and clogged my throat so I could hardly speak. I left a strangled message, put down the phone and wept for her, for her poor dad, for the rest of the family – and for my inability to say the right thing.

But at least she knows that I'm here and that I'll be at the funeral – and that I really do care.

20 comments:

Elaine said...

Sometimes there are no words, FP, and as you struggled with them last night, I am struggling now.

I'm so sorry for your friend and her family...and for you too. x

Flowerpot said...

Thanks Laney - that really helps!

JJ Beattie said...

FP, you're right (about the comment over at mine). Isn't it odd how often we do this?

I'm so sorry to hear your news. It must have been such a shock. Big hugs to you. xx

Flowerpot said...

JJ - yet another case of serendipity! Thanks - it is a huge shock but must be so much worse for her.

MarmiteToasty said...

(((Flowerpot)))) so sorry at your loss :(

I lost my dad and then my mum all within 10 weeks of each other... and even though the last few years were very strained indeed... it hurt me more then I would ever express to anyone... and I didnt even get to say goodbye at either funeral... had to do that on me own to somewhere else....

Your friend WILL know how much you care and grieve for her mum...

life aye.... its what we sign up for....

((flowerpot))) thinking of dear you..

x

Flowerpot said...

Marmie - that sounds utterly terrible. You poor thing. Big hugs to you too and hope you begin to feel better soon. You really are one brave woman.

Philipa said...

I'm so sorry to hear the bad news, my heart goes out to you all. I'm dreading mine going. They are 78 and 81 and I still can't imagine it. I don't think we are ever 'prepared'.

Akelamalu said...

There's no right or wrong thing to say in these situations, it will help your friend just knowing you care. x

Flowerpot said...

Phil - it's so difficult isnt it? My dad died 25 years ago but mum's still very much around and I can't get my head around her not being here - I dont want to either!

Flowerpot said...

Ak - thanks, that makes me feel better.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'm sure your message will have touched her heart. A very sad occasion, I'm sorry to hear. I don't think any of us have the right words to say but friendship will always mean so much. Take care.

CJ xx

Flowerpot said...

CJ - thank you for that! It all helps...

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

The answer phone message will have touched her greatly. Time means nothing in a good friendship - you pick up from where you left off. Better a sad weepy msg than none at all. You appreciate every single condolence when a person dies, no matter how unrehearsed it it and for all it's honesty by being just so.

Flowerpot said...

Thanks MOB - that makes me feel a lot better! In fact I've heard from her sister and she'll be back on Wed morning.

Debs said...

So sorry to hear your sad news.

Thinking of you and your friends.x

Flowerpot said...

Debs - aw - thanks so much!

ChrisH said...

Ah, gosh FP, I don't know what to say; firstly I'm so sorry about Lin's loss that has become your loss too. That sense of wondering how long the Aged Ps have got was what prompted me to give FTT to Ma to read (!). Secondly whatever you didn't manage to say to Lin at least you phoned and said something - most people are too afraid of causing hurt to get that far. Well done.

Flowerpot said...

Chris - I think Laney's right. There arent many words. I'm glad you gave FTT to your ma to read though!

pinkfairygran said...

One of the lovely things about old friends and friendships which go way back, is that when you get older, you have so many shared memories of each other's families. I lost my darling mum when I was 24 and she had just had her 50th birthday. That was over thirty years ago, and I miss her still, think of her most days, talk to her too, and whilst I have lovely new friends - new in that they have been made in the last twenty years or so - they never knew mum, and so can't share memories of her with me, making the two old friends from way back in my teens, even more special. And because of this shared memoryship, I know your friend will know you are grieving too, there will be no need for words, but hugs? Definitely. I send one.. I know how hard this is.

Flowerpot said...

PFG - how lovely to meet you adn what a heart felt comment - thank you so much.