Thursday, 24 September 2009

Every year I buy daffodils.

They are nothing fancy, just the common yellow daffodils you see everywhere. It is the only time I buy flowers. Even in London, as a student with even less money than I have now, I would buy one bunch.
Here I buy them on Daffodil Day. The proceeds go to the Cancer Council of Australia. I have done this for a long time.
My mother died of stomach cancer nine years ago. It was, mercifully, only four months between her diagnosis and her death. She had major emergency surgery in that time but then refused all other treatment. That was her choice. She never really believed in doctors or medicine of any type.
Stress almost certainly contributed to my mother’s condition. She would never show worry. The rest of us would be castigated for worrying. She prided herself in not being ‘a worrier’.Why worry? Her belief in a supernatural being was strong, everything would be taken care of. My youngest sibling, the cause of much of the stress, would be just fine if the rest of us would just provide support and forgiveness and no she was not an alcoholic whatever the evidence to the contrary. We just did not understand.
We still do not understand but we have tried to provide support and forgiveness, love and caring. My mother simply did not understand that, for us, our concern meant standing back and trying to make our sibling come to terms with herself. For my mother it meant giving her errant, wayward child more and more support. It was her way of 'not worrying'.
My mother never saw her ever increasing support for her child or her anger with us as fear or worry. Cancer made her angry rather than afraid. It was not the state of mind she had been led to believe in as a Christian Scientist. She may have ceased to attend the church years before but the belief remained. Cancer was a state of mind. It was not a physical condition. It could be overcome if you simply recognised the error. There was nothing wrong.
I do not buy daffodils for my mother. You cannot buy daffodils for that sort of reasoning..
I buy daffodils for Dad’s godson and his godson’s brother. They are both in remission - two brothers in one family. It has been immensely stressful for their parents and their siblings. All we have been able to do is listen when their parents want to talk about how their grown sons are or not are.
I buy daffodils for other people I know who have fought, won, lost or are enduring. I buy them for their relatives. I buy them in memory of my cousin and in memory of father’s cousin and now the daughter of my father's cousin.
In a different way I buy daffodils for my father and my siblings. I remember my mother but I do not buy them in her memory. She would not want that.
As I write this the mother of my two Chinese godchildren will have urgent surgery on Saturday morning. We do not know yet whether the growith is malignant or not. We hope for the best and, being merely human, fear the worst. My Chinese friend is like a younger sister to me.
I buy the daffodils out of fear, fear for myself, for my family, for people I know and for all the people I do not know. I hope.


Agnieszkas Shoes said...

That's a heart-rending post, Cat. Thank you for sharing.

catdownunder said...

Thankyou Dan.

Jen Campbell said...

Thank you for this post Cat; it is a truly beautiful and heart wrenching read. Daffodils are my favourite flowers and I will think of this post whenever I buy them, and will indeed put the same money for those into a Cancer research charity box every time I do so. My boyfriend's mother is currently in remission. I wish all those you know (and indeed all others out there) who need that good luck and good heath the very best. Thank you for sharing xxxx

catdownunder said...

Thankyou Jen. I am glad I found your blog too!