Is there a mistake you’ve made that turned out to be a blessing—or otherwise changed your life for the better? Tell us about it. Ben Huberman
Today, I feel a bit self indulgent, when such horrendous things are happening in the Middle East. Forgetting about the troubles in the world for the moment, I’d like to share with you a couple of my many mistakes.
I had been sitting by my Mother’s hospital bed, not knowing how long she had, for the three weeks before she died. Looking on the bright side, she had a single room and the sun shone through the window. As she’d been an army nurse during the WW2 she had a gold card, which meant she had the best of medical services.
This period gave us time to talk, though there were so many things I didn’t say, which I wished I had, afterwards. My Mother, Brenda, didn’t lose her sense of humour. She raised her eye- brows as an obese person passed the door in a hospital gown showing a bare back view as they passed. She had a good report with her doctor, as he wrote me a heart felt letter after she died.
My eldest brother came to share her last hours, whilst Brenda was unconscious, preparing for her departure. My Mother died after we left the hospital. We returned at 2am to a body, no longer my Mother. It is something that has been written about, but until you experience this, it is not something one can prepare oneself for.
Numbness enveloped me. Brenda had been my best friend. We spoke constantly on the telephone between our visits to one another. Now there was a gaping hole. Fortunately for me, I’d married Christopher the year before, so I was not alone, though he was working in Victoria at the time.
Clive and I made the necessary arrangements with the undertaker. Being numb, I allowed them to take over and arrange the flowers etc. The death notice was quickly put together, forgetting the right etiquette: our diseased Father, spouses and children forgotten. We just put my Mother’s five children’s names in reverse order. This was probably trying to keep things simple, forgetting others’ feelings.
The funeral turned out to be a huge affair. Coming from a large family, plus my Mother having worked on many committees, been a people person and befriending many, her influence was widely felt in the town. The Presbyterian Church was over flowing. When I saw the coffin I cringed. The flowers on the coffin were salmon pink gladioli with some other flowers. Gladioli were the one flower my Mother hated. She’d been forced to carry them at her own wedding and she complained how heavy and stiff they were.
Brenda had done the flowers at the church for years and did flowers for others’ funerals/ weddings, and here I was having neglected to arrange them for her funeral. I felt ashamed of myself.
Christopher and I returned to Victoria the next day only to be rung the following day to hear that his Father had died. We returned to Devonport to arrange for Eric’s funeral. This time I was able to do the flowers myself, cutting them from my Mother’s garden. Arranging a wreath for his coffin was done with much love. If only I’d been thinking straight and been able to do this for my Mother. It felt so therapeutic arranging those flowers and they did look beautiful.