19 May, 2012


Reclaiming the 3-hour sleep-in that escaped me at sunrise this morning, I have just woken from an afternoon nap. Not that I dreamt about her, more so that I have a soft, clear feeling for her at this very moment – My Mother. It’s an occasional, fleeting excitement I get when I think, “I’ll just give Mum a call”. Mum passed away in March, 2003. I’m still grateful some feelings will never leave me.

I can hear her voice down the phone line in 2002, at the other side of our neighbourhood, in the noisy Markets, “Oh Melanie, they are so beautiful! You should see them…”. I loved hearing my Mother excited about something and that day I was hoping it was Flowers. “Two Little Puppies. If I buy one, will you buy the other? They’re brothers and I can’t break them up.” The last time we had dogs was 15 years earlier and because I traveled so much and I would love them so much, I really didn’t think it fair to become an owner again. Mum continued with the hot sale, “I have been looking and waiting for years and I know these two are the Ones.” How could I say “No”? We named them Archie and Jasper. She explained to me proudly, “The man didn’t have papers but assured me they are Appaloosa’s!!!” My knowledge of dog breeds was minimal so I just sat back and watched them grow.

They licked and bit my Mothers toes as she walked down the hallway in our house for 18 short months before she passed away from Cancer. We were told Mum had 5 years to live and had one week to adjust our Lives before the doctors said “It may only be two years now.” This redefined Time for all of us. I accompanied my Mother through multiple doctor’s appointments and treatments and shared in some wonderful conversations. My favourite was when I asked her “So Mum, who was the prettiest baby out of the 3 of us?” Not quite poised for her rapid-fire response “Oh Melanie, you were an ugly baby. You & Matthew had hair everywhere! Nikki was the prettiest. She was just beautiful!” Our laughter boomed across the foyer of the Hospital and her illness disappeared for 30 seconds. “I adore all of you, but love you all differently”... A Mother’s Love and Wisdom.

Mum lost her short, furious Battle in 3 months. It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to bring up the ‘Appaloosa’ query I just couldn’t seem to shake. It didn’t sound right and Mum could never say it right either! In July that year, the Australian Softball Team toured the US/ Canada and we were in Oklahoma City. I decided one quiet evening to skip across to Borders Bookstore alone and find out more about these Appaloosa Dogs. I could feel the quarter-moon size smile on my face glow when I was directed to the Horse section! I then sat on the floor in the dog section looking for a dog breed that had a similar sounding name and looked like my inheritance. A-HA… found it. The LHASA APSO! I read all about them, hiding in an aisle with tears pouring down my cheeks. Tibetan Mythology stands that the Lhasa Apso absorbs the soul at the moment of death. The day Mum passed away, I took the boys in to see her and they sat like Sentinels beneath her bed while I held on to her feet. Surrounded by family, this is the first place life would leave her and I wanted to be there for that moment.

Some days, like this journal, I curl up with Arch & Jas in the hole that Mum has left in our lives and simply exist and feel ever so grateful. Some of us get to talk and for some, it happens so quickly there is no time for conversation at all. I am unable to comprehend a pain such as this.

From Appaloosa to Lhasa Apso, from not Breaking up the Brotherhood to occasionally having to Break them Apart because they are fighting over who eats first, gets to the water first, who is sitting the closest to me and who has the biggest crack in the fence to see through. Mum and I may have messed up on the Canine Front, but made up for it on the Mother-Daughter Front with Love, Laughter and Goodbye. And you were right Momma, they were the Ones. They've taken care of me every day since you left.