Four Years since I shared something with my Mum

Four Years.  1,460 Days.  35,040 hours.  That’s how long it’s been since I heard my Mum’s voice.  Since I was able to tell her about something happening in my life and hear her wise, guiding words.

Everything was always better when I could share it with Mum.  We had an incredible connection.  She knew that something was wrong with me as soon as she heard my voice on the phone.  No matter how hard I tried to cover it, she knew, and she worried.  If I was stressed, she knew it.  If I was exhausted, she knew it.  If I was sad, she knew it.  Nearly all the time, she actually knew something was wrong before I spoke to her, that’s why she would call me. She’d just need to hear my voice to be able to know which one it was.

Then she’d listen as I’d go in to infinite detail about what it was that was the matter.  Unless it was one of the times that I was having the emotion before I knew it.  Then she understood that too.  She’d listen intently and she had a knack of knowing when to say something and when to just let me vent.  Often she would just say something little – plant a seed for me to think about and percolate before the path I needed to take would then be clear.

I know that it went the other way too.  I could hear in her voice if something was wrong and nearly every time I spoke to her she would say “I was just thinking about you”.  I’ve always thought that showed the level of connection and we always joked about us being Psychotic (a play on Psychic).

She had a very difficult time in the late 90s.  She was bullied terribly in her job and she ended up going out on Workcover for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This meant that she often struggled with her mental state, even years later.  She could sometimes get very wound up about things that I could see that she was misinterpreting and I would spend a lot of time trying to calm her and reassure her.  She trusted me implicitly and even if she didn’t understand what I was saying, she would believe it, because it was me saying it, and she knew that she could trust me.  It was a very special bond.

Jeez, four years is a long time to have not had that.  I’m navigating a particularly difficult stage in my business at the moment and I so need her.  Everyone says “she’s there guiding you” and sure, this may be true.  But it’s not the same.  Nothing is the same.  And it sucks.

Four years is more than half the amount of time Mum went without her Mum.  I really wish that I understood how hard it is to not have your Mum when my Mum was going through it.  The last Mother’s Day I spent with her and she was crying as I packed her in to my car…. I wish I was more understanding then.  I remember clearly being surprised and a little bit frustrated that she was crying about her Mum who had died 7 years ago – you know, FOREVER ago.  Not FOREVER ago.  It was only 7 years.  I know I’ll be doing the same thing in another 3 years.  I wish I could go back and talk to her about how she was feeling and to understand and to try to make her feel better, the way she always did with me.

I also know that at that time she knew she was very sick.  She had been extremely unwell in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day and only she knew at that time just how ill she had felt.  She protected us from that – too much, it seems.  I would have got her to her Doctor quicker than I did that next week, if she had told me how much pain she was in or if I had seen her.  Then again, I also had a terminally ill best friend, and was doing what I could to spend quality time with her and her family, going to chemo appointments etc and Mum knew how important this was.  She didn’t want me to be worried about her on top of dealing with all that I was with Stace.

She was pretty sure that there was something sinister in her lungs when she had the scan in the February after her stroke and there were enlarged glands.  She told me this later.

So, Mum knowing how sick she was, she would have been scared about leaving her “chickadees” and she wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me about how hard it was for her to live without her Mum.  She would have instinctively known that there was a chance that I was going to be faced with it soon enough and we didn’t need to talk about it.  Actually, that reminds me of a conversation in the hospital, I think it was two days before she died, after she had received the diagnosis that it was lung cancer.  We were both scared and started to cry and then she said “we don’t want to talk about this yet, do we?”.  I said no, not yet.  We agreed we would just pull it out bit by bit and talk about it.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to pull it out at all again and talk about it – ever.  It all happened so goddamned fast.  Diagnosis on Thursday, dead at lunchtime on Sunday. We know she took control.  She wanted it to be quick.  She never wanted to be a burden and she certainly made sure of that.  The Dr was so shocked that it happened as quickly as it did and he said that often they see patients in this situation and they just give up and they are gone.

Here’s the biggest things I would have shared with Mum in the last 4 years:-

  • Our dream house.  We bought it four months before Mum died and she wasn’t well enough to see it.
  • Chad and Lisa’s wedding (this was only three months after Mum died)
  • Jay being terribly unhappy at Hawthorndene Primary and us moving him to Blackwood Primary
  • Meeting Mum’s dear blogging friend Chris Goopy, in Brisbane
  • Kym’s cancer finally catching up with her after 12 years and us having to say goodbye
  • Having to say goodbye to Auntie Mary and what an amazing job Sylvia did for her funeral
  • Stacey’s health continuing to deteriorate and watching her waste away in front of my eyes
  • The development of my own relationship with June
  • My decision to keep Mum’s blog alive and to take over the blogging (although nowhere near as frequently or as well)
  • Our trip to the UK and finding Marie’s grave and staying with Mandy
  • Stacey’s cancer taking over after 5 years and having to be the “Eugoogalizer” at her funeral and what an honour it was and how I rocked it
  • Jay becoming a skilled cricketer, playing in the Adult D Grade competition with his Dad and winning the bowling trophy in 2016/17.  Glenn North being his personal cricket coach.
  • Robin’s sudden death and my trip to Queensland and my speech at the funeral
  • Jay getting selected to play in the Under 14s for Adelaide Cricket Club and then being successful at securing one of 15 coveted positions in the Adelaide High School Cricket program
  • Jay being terribly bullied by his “friend” (who wasn’t successful at securing one of the other positions in the cricket program at Adelaide High) and then his whole group of friends turning their back on him
  • The way that Jay stood tall against the bully and his “friends” and found a new group of friends and kept turning up and facing it day in, day out.
  • Jay being selected as captain for Keswick Under 14s
  • How terribly Blackwood Primary School handled the whole bullying situation, especially once the Bully’s father stepped in and ramped up the bullying right at the end.
  • Pat’s bowel cancer and how she has recovered so well
  • The first stage of the internalisation of my largest client’s work
  • Our pool
  • Jay starting at Adelaide High and being so happy, fitting in with a great bunch of kids and thriving in the excellent learning environment that he hadn’t had for years
  • Our trip to the US and me going to Canada and staying with June and meeting the other 8 cousins I met.
  • Jay becoming a teenager
  • the fact that her Baby (Chad) is going to be a Dad (In November this year)
  • Bruce and I being awarded club person of the year for Keswick Cricket Club
  • The second stage of the internalisation of my largest client’s work and the uncertainty this brings for the future of my business
  • Me taking up dancing again (Salsa)

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that every one of those that were a challenge would have been easier with her understanding and wisdom.  I also know that she would have relished the achievements and would have proudly shouted them to the rooftops.

Mum, I miss you and my heart aches.  I spent all morning in bed “pulling the covers over my head” and spending the day wallowing in the feeling of sadness and emptiness.  I give myself this day, once a year, to go with it.  At least it’s not a lot more than once a year now.  I remember all to well when it was daily.  Time is a great healer in that respect.

Kathleen Mary Crout – love you Nana

Ten years ago today, I lost my very much loved Nana and my Mum lost her much loved Mum and became an orphan.

Mum and I sat with Nana and held her hand as she passed away peacefully, in my mind. Mums experience was that it was a terrible passing – that Nana wasn’t given sufficient morphine to keep her fully sedated.  That always made me uneasy that our experiences and memories were so different. It made me sad that it tortured Mum so much and I never really knew how to discuss it with Mum without feeling as though I was challenging her.

Three years and two months ago, I then held my Mum’s hand as she took her last breath. Hers was not a peaceful passing, lung cancer will do that. Struggling to get sufficient air in to your lungs is scary and trying to find a comfortable position is exhausting. Thankfully it was quick, but Mum was nowhere near as settled as Nana was and it plays on my mind that if Mum thought Nana’s passing was terrible, I really hope she wasn’t tortured in her final hours.

One VERY big difference was that Mum was not deserted in the years leading up to her death by her closest family. She was the lifeblood of our family, right there in the centre. She knew it and she loved it. Her kids were her greatest achievement, her greatest joy and her best friends. She had a deep and loving bond with her son and daughters “in-love” and she was adored by all of her four grandchildren. And we were all there in the room with her in her final hours (except for Lisa who was overseas) and most of us were in the room when she took her last breath. She made sure of it –  she waited for my husband to make it from the other side of town and 15 minutes before her last breath when Cullen and I were out if the room, she knew her time was coming and she called for us.

I tell myself that wasn’t a tortured passing. She was able to be conscious right up to the last moments – so she could wait for Bruce and call for her kids when she needed to. She was in a lot of pain and had been for hours, but she had found a way to transcend the pain, so she chose not to ask for drugs. I have wondered why we didn’t push for morphine to make  her difficulty in breathing less traumatic for her, but things happen the way they should and she wanted to be present in mind and choose when to go, which could be quicker than if drugs dulled her senses.

This was going to be a post about Nana – on the 10th anniversary of her passing, remembering her and what an amazingly strong woman she was and how she influenced my life. I miss my Nana, but bloody hell I miss my Mum more. I guess this was supposed to be a post about both of them and how 10 years ago we had to learn to live without Nana and then seven years later, I had to learn to live without my Mum.

I wish I had’ve talked to Mum more about her experience of losing her Mum. How difficult it was for her and how she felt.

But then again, maybe I didn’t want to face it. Now that I know how painful it is to lose the most important person in your life, maybe I actually couldn’t have coped with what she would have told me back then. I think she knew that and that’s why she didn’t talk to me about it.

I love you Nana and I love you Mum.

Two amazing women.

Much loved, and greatly missed.


It’s a day

Today is the 6th of July, 2016. Two years ago my Mum, Catherine, the owner and creator of this blog was taken from us. Almost a year has passed since my last blog when we were in the UK. An amazing, special time.

I have hardly even visited the blog in this last year.

I have been busy finding my way in my new life, without my Mum. I navigated my way through losing a friend who had a 12 year battle with melanoma in April 2015. Then I stumbled my way through losing my oldest and dearest friend, Stacey, who had a five year battle with breast cancer in September 2015. I managed to get through both of them without Mum. Amazing what you can do, when you have no choice.

I’m doing ok, my son is now 11, I was able to move him to a school which is a much more positive place for him to be. I’m sure that would have been handled much better if Mum was here, but we got through it.  I have finally managed to get him keen on reading. The library is now a favourite place for him to go and I am delighted to see that he has discovered a series which he loves and is spending every spare moment buried in it. I know Mum would be clapping her hands with joy and sharing her love of books with him.

I have become a much easier person to live with than I was when I first lost Mum. Grief was very hard and I was so unhappy and stressed and emotional. Thank God I have an amazing husband who with the assistance of my wonderful grief councillor gave me the space and understanding to find my way.

Today I knew was going to be hard. I was prepared for it, which I’ve decided I need to be more often. I need to plan to give myself space to grieve, and then it’s likely I’ll actually cope with the day better than I expect. I spent a few wonderful hours with my Big Brother last night. In anticipation of having a hard time today and wanting to connect with him – the closest link I have to my Mum. He flew to Singapore for work today, so seeng him today wasn’t possible, but we managed to squeeze in dinner and drinks  last night.

I was talking with him about why I find anniversaries, birthdays, Mothers Days and other special dates so hard. Mothers Day this year was particularly hard. I had told myself and everyone around me I was fine and then I woke up and I was in a big, dark hole. Horrid. I wasn’t ready, it snuck up on me and it sucked. Big Time. I realised that those times are the days that I really stop and think about Mum and how much things are different now. How different I am now, and that makes me really sad.  I now feel like I don’t have somewhere else to go when things get really tough. I would always go to Mum. She was always there with a warm hug, soothing words, a cup of coffee and would help me put a plan together and gather the strength I needed to re-enter the real world. No longer do I have that safe haven, that soft place to fall and gather myself and my strength.

Of course I still have people to go to – my Husband, my Son, my friends and I have my Big Brother. Thank God for my Big Brother. I honestly don’t know what I would have done over these two years without him.  He provides a different safe haven to that which Mum gave me, but I love the fact that Cullen is so much like Mum in different ways to me. Our relationship is different to that which I had with Mum, and different to how our relationship was before Mum died. Back then we really didn’t understand each other, and now we share the fact that we are navigating our way through without Mum and realising that has had a profound effect on us. I feel like he has taken  over from Mum in being able to know when things aren’t right with me and he picks up the phone just to chat. Sometimes I don’t even realise what is coming – the tidal wave of grief, before he calls. I am so grateful for him, and I know he is of me.  When we left each other last night, his parting words about today were “It’s a day”.  He meant it in the way of today being a big day – hence the title of the post.

So this morning I was exhausted – I slept all morning and then felt like I was in a numb dazed state. I decided I needed to achieve something meaningful from the day, so I took myself off to Nalty Memorisls and organised Mum’s headstone. I’ve been meaning to for months, actually more than a year, but the time hasn’t been right. Today, everything fell in to place, and the deposit has been paid, the shape and design of the headstone set, and all I need to do is provide the text – that’s the easy part. I’m really pleased. It,s going to be amazing and then every time I visit the cemetery (which I don’t do all that often) I will be so proud of the headstone and the statement it makes about Mum and who she was, and what she meant to us.

The other thing I wanted to do was write a blog post, so this is my second accomplishment of the day.

Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be over two years since my Mum died. I’ll be in to the next phase. For now I’m happy to have quietly seen the day through, and ticked a couple of boxes.

We are headed off for a week in sunny Cairns on Saturday to spend with my Dad, which should be a nice getaway. I look forward to feeling warm. It’s been so bloody cold lately.

Then I will prepare to mark the one year anniversary of Stacey’s death in September and will be very pleased to post photos of Mum’s headstone here, when it’s complete.

I hope all of you here reading this today still remember my Mum often and with love. You all meant so much to her.

Until next time,


8 month anniversary of Mum’s Death

Its been a very long time between blogs.  I have been busy with a lot of other stuff, which I will find time to blog about soon, but I needed to post this today.

8 months ago today was a day from hell, that is etched in my memory torturing me with its cruel pace, whenever my mind is still.  But on the morning of that day, only hours before she was taken from us, my Mum had the strength to make and allow us to record memories.  Here are two of my favourites.  One shows her strength and one shows her pride – she was full to overflowing in both.

I love you Mum and miss you more than words can say.  😦20140706_130649 20140706_130947

TROVE TUESDAY: On the day of my Nana’s birth…

Elizabeth Mary Allan (nee Murray)My Nana, Elizabeth Mary (Murray/ Evans) Allan was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia, on 19 Sep 1892.  Nana was the third child of Eliza Jane Rowen, and Peter Murray, and the first to survive the terrible living conditions in Broken Hill at that time…so, as the 121st Anniversary of her birth is fast approaching I decided to check with TROVE to have a look at the reported events on the actual day she was born.

Through the wonders of TROVE I’d already discovered that there was huge Industrial unrest, and a  miner’s strike, in which my Nana’s Uncle Andrew was involved a month after her birth. You can read about this in my “Scabs and Riots” post by clicking here.

Banners. The Barrier Miner

The Barrier Miner, on the day Nana was born, reported that the Miner’s Strike in Broken Hill was being supported as far away as Sydney with some 10,000 people protesting and demonstrating.

TROVE. The strike. 19Sep1892

Advertisements, on that some day, show how some retailers were supporting the striking workers in helping them feed their families.

Trove. The Strike. Walsh

I have clear indications that “Walsh & Son” are most likely related, via marriage, to one of my Nana’s Aunts but need to research further…

Trove The strike. same page advert

Thankyou TROVE for providing the information to help me re- construct the lives of my Ancestors, confirming some family stories whilst dispelling some of the myths.


Many thanks also to Amy Houston, of Branches, Leaves & Pollen, for initiating the TROVE TUESDAY Theme.  Please click HERE to visit Amy’s Blog and HERE to read the contributions of others.


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

On this day… 31 July 1848 in Kilrush, Ireland.

Clare Herald“On this day (31 July) in 1848, Captain Kennedy reports to the Commissioners that in the previous three weeks the eviction of 97 families, numbering 513 souls, has been carried out in the Kilrush Union.”


My Great Great Grandmother, Susan Kelleher, was about 11 years old on this day when 513 of her neighbours had been evicted from their homes. Her family had, until now, survived the horrors of what is called “the Irish Famine” … others describe it as a wilful act of genocide.

Famine via Clare Herald re. 31Jul1848

Whatever name you put upon it, Susan’s family had managed to survive but clearly daily life, and staying alive, was still a huge challenge. The family story is that they were “advised” that some of the family needed to emigrate. Was this by their Landlord?… their Priest?… is the story true? … This I don’t know.

What I do know is that my Susan arrived in South Australian on the 13 May 1855, some 5 or 6 years after that fateful day and never to return to her beloved land of birth… her family, her Ireland.

We, her descendants, will always remember.

Irish Flag raised in Kilrush for the "Famine" Commemoration 2013

Irish Flag raised in Kilrush for the “Famine” Commemoration 2013



Copyright © 2013. Catherine Crout-Habel