This isn’t a post about running.
It’s about my Mother-in-law, Della. Back in April she had a stroke. Between then and now this strong and stubborn lady has gone down hill and then revived quite a few times. Paul has flown over from Tasmania to New Zealand four times, each time expecting it to be the last goodbye.
Two days before the Cadbury Half Marathon he flew over again. It will be his last goodbye. She is now having her pain and discomfort managed and we are expecting her to go to sleep for the last time very soon.
On Christmas Eve we received a call that indicated that she was about to leave us then. But she rallied. There is no chance of her doing this again. It is heart breaking for me but more for me as a wife to watch my Husband grieve being so far away from his family. I wrote this below piece as an expression of my own grief and despair but also in celebration of this wonderful lady. I wrote this on Christmas Eve… but I’m sharing it now… And today she is going from the nursing home where she has been cared for back to her home, her time to say goodbye is getting very near.
Happy running 🙂
Some might say that having your mother-in-law in another country is the perfect way to keep boundaries around this often difficult relationship between women. Not me. I will always have a sense of regret that I didn’t know my mum-in-law, Della, better.
Della was named after a great-grandmother funnily enough called Deloraine. Deloraine was born in Longford, a small country town about a 45 minute drive from the farm. And just 30 minutes from our closest town – the town of Deloraine. Reality sometimes throws up some quirky things, so funny that my Husband Paul would settle just outside of Deloraine when he moved his family from New Zealand to Tasmania nearly 20 years ago.
Della welcomed me with open arms. She didn’t question Paul’s new relationship with this new woman even though his marriage of 29 years was less than a year over and here he was just met someone new and bringing her to meet his family. She raised a strong man. A man able to make decisions with wisdom and integrity. A man though slighted, was able to pick up, dust off and keep pursuing his dreams. Della didn’t question him. Neither did his father Mark. They did not blink an eye but accepted me; welcomed me as a valued part of the family right from the start. When we first married I often felt more of a Loader in New Zealand with the Loader Family than I did in Tasmania. I am Auntie Annie, sister-in-law and most importantly daughter-in-law on one credential. That credential is that I am loved by Paul.
How can you not love a woman who is strong, vital and true? I can’t. I love Della very much. You always know where you are with her. She does not mince words, she tells it like it is. She often talks about being prepared. She likes people to think through what they are doing and if she thinks one of her large brood isn’t thinking something through… well she just tells them straight! It’s always out of love but often I get the impression with Della that she feels there isn’t enough time in life to stuff around doing the wrong thing. So she is all into just telling it like it is. She is respected by her family so highly that they do not question her right to do this.
A favourite topic is people who live on the never never. The never never is her way of describing people who choose to constantly live in a spiral of credit and debt. She is a woman after my own heart here. She would have a lot to say when discussions around her dinner table turned to investments, spending and entrepreneurial plans by her children and grandchildren.
She bred a family of go getters. I’m not talking about high flyers financially but people who are not afraid to dream big dreams and go out and make them happen. From business to sport, no one cheers her children and their families on more than Della. There are now 10 great grandchildren to add to this crew. But she is always the first person to point out when things need adjustment. Della does not own any rose-coloured glasses. Paul took a big gamble to come to Tasmania to pursue his dream of owning a dairy farm. His children love their grandparents very much and despite the distance have managed to stay in touch and feel part of the fabric of the Loader family. Their pride in being New Zealanders could never be removed.
What can I tell you about Della that really paints a picture of the woman that she is? In April this year she had a stroke. All her New Zealand family immediately downed tools and travelled to Masterton on the North Island to be by her side. She didn’t like the fuss, but with a large family who loves her fiercely… at a time like this, well the Matriarch was fussed over despite her protests. Paul also dropped everything and flew to be with his Mum.
She is loved by her family. She is respected by her family but above all her husband Mark loves and respects her. This is a marriage started with romantic love that has grown and matured as the joining of soul mates should. They are best friends. They know what each other is thinking before it is thought. They are life partners, husband and wife that let not man put asunder or ever could if they tried. How Mark will cope when it is time for Della to go I just can’t imagine.
Della is blessed with two beautiful daughters who I am privileged to call my sisters-in-law. Both busy business women with family to care for. Both have been so incredibly supportive of their Dad since Della’s stoke. Sitting back in Tasmania it has been hard for Paul to not be there to help. And my brother-in-law and my nephew who live in Masterton have been the rocks of the family throughout Della’s illness. No words can describe how thankful Paul is to his family for being there and taking up the slack and doing their share and his to look after his Mum and Dad. And my other siblings-in-law, nieces and nephews… what can I say but they are all chips-off-the-old-block. The Mark and Della block that is. The Senior Loaders can be so proud of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Moulded in love and truth. They have an intrinsic almost born-in risk taking ability that amazes me and sometimes leaves me hanging on for dear life especially when Paul sets his sail and off we race! I have Mark and Della to thank for Paul’s ingenuity, intrepidness and stubborn ability to hang on in hard times and to somehow create a way forward. When the road ends I make my own road is one of Paul’s favourite sayings.
Why am I writing this? Paul had a phone call today (Christmas Eve). After months of rehabilitation, then home for a spell, then back in hospital, then in and out of the nursing home, then several scares when Paul has dropped everything to go and be with his Mum… then back in hospital… what a roller coaster it has been for Della and my New Zealand Family over the past months since the stroke. Why am I writing this today? Della has asked to go home. She is going downhill a little further each day, her time left with us we hope is measured in months but she is slowly slipping away each day. She wants to go home. We expect to lose her very soon.
No one is sadder than I about this. This lady who could have been one of my best friends is not going to be around for very much longer. This lady who raised the man that I love to be kind, fair and strong… it looks like she will say goodbye soon. So today, I write to express my gratitude to her for raising such a wonderful son who I call my Husband. I write with love tinged with regret for the relationship that time and distance did not allow to grow.
Now I need to go and run in celebration of life – running is a simple act of putting one foot in front of the other but it makes more sense than anything else to me. And it puts all of life back into balance. I will need my friend running to help me be as strong as I can for Paul.