Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Memories

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In May of 2012, after years of knowing there was something seriously wrong and getting worse, my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. And so began the long goodbye.

My mum, Patricia Hein in her Blue Lake Ladies Pipe Band uniform and bagpipesShe’d been saying farewell, in her own way, for a while by then. I think she knew there was a problem with her memory a long time before. Mum had taken to scrapbooking with zeal. No photo was safe, no font or cut-out spared. Every occasion was glued and arranged into a series of thick, heavy folders. They’d arrive in the post, unbidden: a scrapbook of my debut, a wonderful tradition that is still a source of fun in many country towns, complete with pressed flower arrangement; a book of my university days, of my 21st birthday party, my years at pony club. We all had books made for us. Great folders of preserved memory.

Not all of them were correct. Names were mixed up, places not quite right. At the time I never thought much of it. They were simple errors. Looking back, perhaps those errors were an early sign. Certainly I think Mum’s need to revisit and spend so much time with old photographs and the ephemera she’d held on to were her way of chasing moments she felt were becoming elusive. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe scrapbooking was simply a creative outlet. But in her subconscious…

It’s been vexing and hurtful to watch her decline. There have been times when I’ve been furious with Mum, believing her behaviour was deliberate instead of a symptom of disease. Since I left for university at 18, any return visit home was always accompanied with flutter and excitement. Then one trip, after 1400 kilometres on the road, Jim and I rocked home only to find the house locked and empty. Mum had forgotten we were coming and disappeared down the street.

My mum, Patricia Hein in her wedding dress, 1960.She began to miss birthdays, even though they were written in her diary. She became increasingly difficult to talk to on the phone. The same questions would be asked over and over. She’d forget what I did as a job, where I was living. Jim became “husband” then was wiped out all together. She’d lie. A lot and about anything in an attempt to cover up gaps that once were barely noticeable cracks but had widened into chasms. Oh, and she was angry. So very, very angry. We failed to tell her things. We didn’t call. We moved items, deliberately hid things from her. Everything that went wrong was us, not her. God, some of those moments hurt and I only had it when I phoned or visited. Poor Dad faced the brunt daily. The happy, bright woman we knew had been stolen from us. We buried our unspoken fear that she wasn’t coming back.

In January 2012 Jim and I moved to Melbourne, only a 5 hour drive from Mount Gambier. Not long after, Dad brought Mum over to visit. I thought we’d take her shopping – an activity she adored and could do for hours – but the DFO centre at South Wharf left her bewildered and, it seemed, a little bit frightened. The trip was a disaster. She barely moved from Dad’s side. Not a single shop interested her. The world was whirling too fast, everything was too strange. She may as well have been in Russia.

My mum, Patricia Hein at Carcassonne, France in 2004Until that year, getting Mum to talk to her doctor about her condition had been an exercise in frustration. We hinted, but never anything more. How do you tell someone a fear like that? We wanted protect her from pain but the truth was we also wanted to shield ourselves. So we tiptoed around the subject. No one wanted to think about a diagnosis. No one wanted to hear the word Alzheimer’s. Without it, we still had hope. Once it became real there would be none. No cure. Only a worsening. Only more theft by a thing without conscience.

By Easter something had to be done. Dad took her to a new doctor, who administered a simple dementia test. Mum failed. Majorly. And so the diagnosis chain began and with it went our hope. The unspoken fear had become real.

Three years later, Mum’s moments of lucid memory are rare. I used to be able to garner a flicker of recognition by saying ‘Mum’ as often as I could. Now there’s nothing. I don’t know who she thinks this mum person I keep referring to is but it’s not her.

Mum in the car on the way to her new home.On Friday, we entered another phase in Mum’s decline. She was placed into full time care. This is where she’ll spend Mother’s Day. In a new home, surrounded by new people and carers, and there’s much sadness attached to that. But we have to remember that almost everyone and everything is new to Mum. This is a woman who can’t recall how to make a cup of tea, only that she would like one. A woman who doesn’t know her husband of almost fifty-five years, to whom her children are strangers. A woman who knows she’s a daughter but not a mother.

To Mum Mother’s Day might not hold meaning but it does to me. I might be erased from her memory but she’s vivid in mine. She’s still alive and she’s still my mum. The years we had together existed and we’ll have more moments yet. Those moments will probably last a heartbeat for her, but they’ll be embedded with me.

There’s a saying or a quote that goes something like this: someone doesn’t die until the last person who remembers them is gone. I reckon Mum has a fair while to go yet.

THIS WRITING LIFE: Bloggy Goodness

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With the release of Rocking Horse Hill I’ve been cantering around the blogosphere, waving my Come Read Me! banner and generally having a rompy old time of it.

Take a look at where I’ve appeared this week:

ROCKING ALONG

On wonderful multi award-winning Australian romantic suspense author Helene Young’s blog, where I show off how life really is in my office

Check this one out. It’s a hoot!

GETTING ANIMAL

With rural romance author Alissa Callen where I take a look at anthropomorphism. Something I practice a lot!

MOTHER’S DAY PRESENT DILEMMAS

Come have yours solved on Margareta Osborn’s blog. Not only are there some perfect-for-mum book suggestions, but revealing insights into what fellow rural romance authors Margareta Osborn, Fiona Palmer, Rachael Johns, Alissa Callen and I plan for this Sunday.

WRITERS ON READING

My answers to Pamela Cook’s wonderful series on books authors read and love. Discover my favourite literary villain, what book has made me laugh out loud, which has made me cry, and more!

OLDER BLOGS

Some blogs I’ve appeared on in previous weeks…

The Australian Romance Readers Association: Rocking Horse Hill Release Day. With a giveaway just for members too. Closes May 13th

My blog: 10 Secret Things About Rocking Horse Hill. All is revealed!

A Q&A with best-selling rural romance author Fiona Palmer. Quirky!

Write What You Know: a writing article on Write Note Reviews. One for authors.

A Q&A on book review site Book’d Out. Come see my sticky note obsession!

Aussie Author Round-Up on Book Muster Down Under. Discover my writing motto.

Friday Feast with Cathryn Hein ie me! Home-made Hot-Crossed Buns.

Friday Feast with Cathryn Hein (Again!). Sweet seduction with a dead easy chocolate pudding.

What Every Author Needs on Rachael Johns’s blog. Friends, that’s what!

Have fun. I did!

FRIDAY FEAST with me…again!

Greetings, Feasters, from (sort of) sunny South Australia. I’ve been on a library tour all week around the south east of the state, chatting about Heart of the Valley and my journey to publication, plus whatever else I go off on a tangent about. And it’s been huge fun! Delightful crowds who ask lots of questions, and the hospitality of the library staff has been wonderful. There are links on my Facebook page to photos if you want to take a look, and a radio interview I did which was rather fun.

Heart of the Valley has been earning some amazing reviews, which is really heart-warming. How about this one from Shelleyrae at Book’d Out.

Heart of the Valley is a novel about letting go and moving forward that mixes tender romance with heartfelt drama. I finished Heart of the Valley with a contented sigh for a story well told and a longing for a horse of my own. Cathryn Hein has joined my ever growing list of must read Australian women writers.

And this from 1 girl… 2 many books!

Heart Of The Valley is an excellent addition to the ever-growing rural lit genre – it showcases a beautiful area, contains wonderful, well thought out characters that I really, really enjoyed and I felt the story was rounded and well paced.

And the Facebook comments keep coming too. So on the off chance you haven’t seen Heart’s cover or read the blurb, and to keep the Friday Feast posts consistent and me from getting twitchy about them not matching, here it is again!

 

HEART OF THE VALLEY

 

Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled ­ some might even say stubborn ­ and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ ­ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself ­ a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?

A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.

 

Right, enough promo, it’s FOOD TIME!

I had planned to write another Heart of the Valley themed post, maybe sharing another Nancy Burrows-style, hearty country recipe, but then I realised that Sunday was Mother’s Day. Given Jim and I move around quite a bit, and sometimes reside long distances from our families, we don’t get to see our mums as often as we’d like and it’s rare for us to spend Mother’s Day with them. Things are easier for me now we’re in Melbourne because that makes Mount Gambier only a 4 ½ (give or take a bit) hour drive away, but it’s still not pop-around-the-corner easy.

So this will be the first Mother’s Day I’ve been able to spend with Mum for donkey’s. To celebrate, we’re planning a nice family brunch on Sunday morning at Mum and Dad’s. There’ll be fresh eggs from my brother’s chooks, maybe a bit of bacon or some chipolatas if I can track some tasty ones down, fruit, cereal, toast and whatever else we can think of. Simple, but good. Anyway, like most celebrations the food won’t really matter. It’s the company that counts.

If I was home, though, and had all my cooking toys at hand, I’d probably try something a bit fancier. In fact, I’d probably make it a Mother’s Day lunch instead of a brunch because then I’d have an excuse to crack a bottle of fizz. Always feels a bit naughty to drink fizz in the mornings, even for a champagne breakfast on Melbourne Cup day, but lunch is another matter. There’s something deliciously indulgent about it, and let’s face it, Mother’s Day is all about indulging Mum.

But if you’re considering lunch for your mum and have a bit of time to prepare, here’s a recipe that might appeal. Serve with a nice green salad, and a glass of crisp white wine, rosé or even fizz, throw in good company, and you have yourself the makings of a perfect afternoon.

 

LEEK, FETTA AND TOMATO TART

 

Serves 4

Pastry

This will make much more than you need, but it’s very hard to measure half an egg. Refrigerate or freeze the rest for another time.

225g (1 ½ cups) plain flour

90g butter, chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon cold water (you may need more)

Place flour and butter in a food processor and whizz until crumbly (or use the tips of your fingers to rub butter into flour). Add egg and water and pulse until a ball forms. You may need to add extra water. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. When smooth, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C

Take a 35cm by 13cm loose bottomed tart tin and line it with pastry. Rolling out the pastry can be extremely painful so just use your fingers to press balls into the tin until a nice shell forms. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 leek, halved, washed and white part very thinly sliced

200g pancetta or good smoky bacon, cut into small fine batons

1 clove garlic, crushed

A few good handfuls of baby spinach

100g fetta, crumbled

6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 eggs

180ml cream

3 or so tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add leek, garlic and pancetta and cook over medium heat until the leek is nice and soft and starting to caramelise a little. Add spinach and wilt.

Spread leek mixture over the cooked pastry case. Top with fetta.

Whisk eggs with Parmesan cheese and then stir in cream until well-combined. Pour over leek mixture. Dot surface with halved cherry tomatoes.

Bake 30 minutes or until set. Serve warm.

 

I’d love to hear what would make a perfect Mother’s Day for you, or even how you plan to celebrate with your mum. Maybe you get to flop around in your PJs all day with people waiting on you hand and foot. Perhaps you’ll be picnicking or adventuring or doing something completely indulgent. Maybe Sunday will find you whipping up your favourite recipe for your mum. I bet there are some wonderful ideas out there we could all gain inspiration from.