Friday, 15 January 2010

Vale...


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.

23 comments:

Bec said...

one of the most touching posts i have ever read, thanks for sharing christie. and i hope your little family are doing okay.

jessica said...

this is a beautiful and loving tribute. i feel like i know her. you made me miss someone i never met. thanks for sharing this.

Becky said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds as though you will have many Edna stories to tell and enjoy in the future.

Liesl (Hoppo Bumpo) said...

What a moving tribute to your mother in law, Christie. It sounds like she was a really remarkable lady.

Thinking of you and your family at this sad time. Take care.

Liesl x

Mel said...

Oh wow Christie. How beautifully written. I love that you haven't sugar coated her stubborn streak but that it's the part of her personality you miss the most. It's a timely reminder for me with my very very VERY opinionated, yet very loving mother in law ;)

Edna seemed like an extraordinary woman. I don't know if I could do what she did. Warmest wishes to you and to your husband and brother in law.

Bek said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.

She sounds like a remarkable woman.

Hope you are all doing OK.

two little buttons said...

what a beautiful tribute to your mother in law. may you all remember her with a smile at this hard time.

Michelle said...

You have written so beautifully and elequently about Edna. I'm sorry your family is going through sad times. I'm thinking of you all.

inkala images said...

May you find comfort in your memories and an extra sparkling star above to look up to now and always.

Ingrid x

Bird Bath said...

This is a wonderful tribute to a tremendous character. I can tell she will be fondly remembered by you and your family. My condolences.

Christina Lowry said...

My condolences on your loss and my best wishes for you and your family. It sounds like we have all lost a wonderful woman.

sue said...

Edna sounds as though she was a wonderful loving lady. I loved reading about her and her little ways. So sorry your family is without her now and I do hope her memories help your family to heal.

Anna said...

So sorry to hear about your loss, I hope you and your family are doing ok. Such a lovely post and I think a fantastic reminder to be thankful for even that things that drive you mad sometimes because you are so right, they are what makes that person special and would be so greatly missed.

Vida said...

My love to you and Roger at this sad time... V x

13mimosa said...

My condolences to you and Roger on the passing of your MIL. It's approaching that time in our lives I guess, but no harder to accept. Lovely words to remember her.

gret said...

Really sorry to hear this news Christie. Thinking of you guys. Great post too, and one you're kids can read to help remember her when they're older. :o)

SadieandLance said...

Sorry about your MIL Christie. What a beautiful tribute to an impressive sounding woman.

Corrie said...

oh what a beautiful tribute to someone who was obviously a beautiful lady. Hope you're all doing well and thank you for those beautiful words

take care
Corrie:)

handmade romance said...

so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing with us this beautiful post. my best wishes to you and your family.

Nikki said...

I'm sure Edna will live on in many ways and will continue to make you smile with memories. Beautiful post, Christie.

My condolences to you, Roger and family.
xxn

Cindy said...

I think that all the memories are so important for the little ones to know where they come from. Hope that you all are getting though it

Violet and Rose said...

I'm only just catching up on my post reading after being away, but I wanted to say what a wonderful tribute to a great lady. I love the story about the jug of water and going to jail. It reminded me so much of my grandmother. I think she and Edna would have made a great Thelma and Louise.

I hope everything is going well for you and your family XX

One Flew Over said...

I just saw this post today.

Chris, what a touching and heartfelt tribute to Edna.

You sweet thing x