Edna Ethel Fowler 1924-2010
Last Thursday evening my mother in law, Edna passed away passed away peacefully with her eldest son Roger by her side. Edna was an amazing, smart, funny & determined woman who had lived with MS (& was confined to a wheelchair) for more than half her life, until a number of strokes finally took their toll.
Edna's life is the stuff of novels & movies, although I am sure given the choice she would have happily avoided much of the drama. She was a child of the great depression, she served in the Army during WWII & lived outback of south west Queenland on sheep & cattle farm during years of drought. Later in life Edna single handedly raised her two sons on a shoestring budget while coping with her own health issues, those of her youngest son & dealing with the prejudices that came with with a disabled, single mother. Reading some of her letters I can tell that it broke her heart not to be able to provide better opportunities for her boys, but she certainly provided them with lots of love.
Edna could be frustratingly stubborn but I think a large part of her personality can be attributed to some of what she had to endure during her life, perhaps if she hadn't been so strong she wouldn't have turned out two lovely sons. Due to her failing health, she spent the last 7 years in a nursing home. Roger & I would often leave a visit with his mum laughing to ourselves about something that she had said or done, after living a very insular life for many years Edna's view of the world could be quite skewed. When she first moved into the nursing home she was in a shared room & one of the other residents was very vocal, shouting out day & night. Edna didn't have much patience for this & one day tipped an entire jug of water over the other resident in order to shut her up. At the time Edna was completely unapologetic about her actions, a classic quote from her at the time was (& I am paraphrasing) 'I don't care if they send me to jail!', she was very tough to reason with.
Edna wasn't very happy with our choice of name when Willow was born, I can distinctly remember he saying 'you named her after a tree!?'. Over the next few weeks when we visited Edna referred to her new granddaughter as 'Wattle', I know it wasn't a deliberate jibe, although I wonder if it may have been a subconscious one. It makes me smile to remember that now, although I don't think it did at the time. Edna never said so, but I think she really enjoyed having a granddaughter after raising two boys & I have a feeling we have her to thank for Willow's stubborn streak.
It's funny how when someone is gone the things that drove you crazy when they were alive are suddenly the things that you miss the most. Recently, as Edna's heath deteriorated I found myself missing her complaining about things, I think it was a sign that she wasn't well, wasn't herself. Being quiet & accepting wasn't Edna's style, she'd had to fight too hard all her life & I daresay acceptance was a luxury she couldn't afford.
I wish I had had a proper chance to say goodbye, even though she was unwell it never occurred to me that it could be our last visit. Although we didn't get to see much of it recently, I will miss Edna's wit especially & that mischievous sparkle in her eyes. Some funny things happened at the service, it's as if Edna had a hand in it. Perhaps in death she is taking charge of some things that were out of her control whilst she was still with us, I like that idea a lot.