Friday, 12 August 2011

Elizabeth Jane Madden; June 19, 1927-August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

My mother died today. I can’t even fathom the reality of it, although we have been expecting it for months. And, as with my father, I wasn’t there as she made her transition. Again, as with my father, I did phone her last night and my sister put the phone to her ear ... I told her that Alana and I were together, and we were sending much love her way, and that I loved her. And Mindy said that my mom knew that it was me. It should bring me some comfort, but somehow it doesn’t yet.
Because I missed my father’s passing, it was my deepest wish that I would be with my mother when her time came. But it wasn’t to be ... it was probably a selfish wish anyway. I know that my sister did an amazing job of journeying with her these past days, and months.
And so I am left in a kind of stunned state. I won’t be going home for five weeks – and then we will have a small (very short – she would want that) service of remembrance and bury her ashes with my dad in west Toronto in early October. I am blessed that of all weeks for this to happen, my own daughter is with me this week and we can comfort each other. We are both kind of in shock, but at least hanging on to each other. And I feel all I can do is write something down.
My mother was not a happy person generally. For very real issues which I won’t go into now, she had very low self esteem, which translated into fear and control issues with her daughters. She recognized this later in her life, and we were able to have conversations about it in the past few years. As she was reflecting on her life with Mindy and I when I visited last January, she said that she was happiest when she was painting.
Now get this. She always wanted to be an artist, but was told by her father that she couldn’t attend art school. Her own mother was an artist who taught others to paint. When my grandmother died, my mother began to paint. And paint. And paint. For several years, she produced many paintings – both oil and watercolour. Her own family members, including her five brothers, couldn’t believe the talent she had hidden all these years. And then her sister died. And my mother stopped painting. When I pointed this out to her during our January conversation, she said she hadn’t made that connection.
I only have two of my mom’s paintings ... one is of two small boys in the rain which I know she copied from a photo she had seen ... but I always imagined it was my own boys. Wishful thinking perhaps, that they would have been so tender with each other, helping each other through a rain puddle.
I’ve had the Allison Krauss/Robert Plant song (actually it’s an old traditional song) “Your Long Journey” running through my head since my sister phoned a few hours ago.
God's given us years of happiness here, Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pains of grief tug at my heart

Oh my darling, My darling
My heart breaks as you take your long journey.
My mom and I had a difficult relationship, but there was love. And my heart breaks that her long journey has been taken, but I also rejoice that she is not in pain anymore, that her brokenness has been made whole, and that she is in the arms of God – whatever that means. Rest in peace, mom. I love you.


  1. Hello Martha!
    I was on St. Andrew’s Website an hor ago and was moved to read your blog because I had not done so for a while. I was sad to learn of our mother’s death and I have been trying to post a comment. I hope this third time works. I am thinking of you and praying for you. I had the same experience: I was not with my mother when she died, nor my father. It’s a tough thing, to be sure. I know how you must feel. I am glad Alana is there. My son helped so much when my Mom died. Murray was far away in Fiji, and it was so helpful to have Eric’s shoulder to cry on! Thanks for sharing your mother’s story. It is sad, but I am glad she got to paint, if only for a while. I know how happy it can make a person feel. I hope you and Alana have an enjoyable time in Dublin - I hope you go, despite everything. Hugs!

  2. Hi Marth and Alana. I'm so sorry to hear of your Mom's passing . It's good that you two are together, but I regret that I'm not in Ireland right now. Please know that you are in my thoughts and in my heart.

    Love, Sandy

  3. David & I send you our prayers and sympathy. Betty