Until we meet again

13 Mar

Jennifer Norma May Nutchey
23/10/1932 – 06/03/2019

This week we say farewell to Dave’s Mum, my mother-in-law. As tends to be the case, it brought with it reflections on a life well lived, stories known to me, and stories new to me. We pulled out photo albums, found occasions we remembered clearly, and others we’d forgotten. But for the first time since last Wednesday, I’ve had some solo time to sit down and personally reflect – and for me that’s often best done with my laptop and a blank document. So here is where you find me… reminiscing… and I want to share her with you.

Norma and I shared a few things, our name included – both had Jennifer as our given name (though she was known by her second name, Norma). In fact my initials are JMN and hers JNMN… This was a source of confusion when I attended hospital once only to be told “wait, you’re not 70″… “No, I said, but my mother-in-law is”! The Nutchey surname isn’t a common one! We also both have a little nursing experience. And while her time nursing was only short, it must have been memorable for her, as she often talked about it in recent years. We shared a faith in God – creator of the universe, and someone we can put our trust in – it is comforting to know she’s enjoying the beautiful gardens of heaven. Of course we also shared Dave – her son, my husband – whom she always told me to look after, whenever we were leaving. Norma accepted and loved me well – she had a wonderful hug which she gave out often, a great sense of humour, and a cheeky glint in her eye when teasing, or sharing a joke or story that amused her.

What we didn’t share was our gardening ability. Norma could make anything grow. She worked hard on her garden and was rewarded with beautiful flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, and a garden that overflowed with life, colour, and animals. Giving her a gift was easy – new season bulbs, plants, gardening magazines, or cute garden gnomes/animals – she delighted over it all. No trip was complete if we hadn’t been to a garden store. I on the other hand, can kill a cactus.

If Norma saw a need that she could help resolve, she would do it with no hesitation – including ironing clothes for “the oldies” (people often younger than her) at the retirement village. Amongst other things, she cut hair, washed clothes, helped with meals on wheels, and helped out as needed at church. I think her nursing nature of helping those in need was always present.

As Waikerie is a couple of hours from Adelaide, most trips to visit were multi-day trips. Where odd jobs could be attended, garden shops could be visited, bakeries could be frequented and time could be spent together. The honey biscuit jar was refreshed (and subsequently depleted), and we often enjoyed a car trip exploring the area around, where I learned much about both Norma and Dave’s childhoods. While my early formative years were in the country, it was crop/cattle country, not orchards full of citrus trees – it was a whole new experience for me.

Norma’s last visit to Brisbane was a memorable one. When I got out of the shower one morning, Norma was nowhere to be found. Dave got home shortly afterwards and I had to tell him I’d lost his mother… Gosh I felt terrible!! We were walking the streets, getting friends to drive around the suburbs, and ultimately involved the police… thankfully we were reunited after a few hours. Norma had gone for a walk around the block and become disoriented – but had started chatting to some others out in their garden – and they’d had a cup of tea while her new friends tried to work out where she had come from… While I still remember this, Norma had forgotten about it very quickly – such is the disease of Alzheimers.

I’m thankful to the all those who cared for Norma in her final years. I’m also immensely thankful to Keryn and Ian who have shouldered much of the responsibility as Brisbane was so far away from Waikerie. It has been a big load, particularly recently, and while I know it is done out of love, and they’d not hesitate to do anything needed, it is still hard and I’m greatly appreciative.

Norma, for now we say a temporary goodbye – we’ll see you when God calls us home. Thank you for loving us well. xo

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