Note: I apologize beforehand for a longer post. Once I started writing, I just had to keep going till the end.
When I looked at the image I am sharing today, that was the thought that came to mind. I see a strong woman. I chose the image because of the fishnets, but my brains didn’t want to let go of those two words: strong woman. And as it goes once you have something in mind, more thoughts followed… thoughts about the strong women I had and have in my life.
She was born in 1912, and still only a child when World War I happened. But, by the time World War II happened, she had a family, children to protect. The only child that was born after the war, was my mom. A son and a daughter was born before the war, another daughter in the war. Eight years after WWII ended, they left their home, left their country and emigrated to South Africa. There they built a new, happy life, until my grandmother lost her husband in 1972. She remarried five years later, to another Dutch man, only to lose him too seven years later. At his funeral she met his brother, who returned to the Netherlands. I don’t know how long after the funeral it happened, but my grandmother and this man became a couple. When he started to become forgetful, she stood by his side. When he walked out of the house and disappeared, she waited until he returned, or the police brought him back because he didn’t know where he lived anymore. When he got violent because of dementia, she laughed it away, and still kept on caring for him. Health professionals told her she should have him admitted, that she should think about her own health too, but she kept going until he became a danger to himself, and was admitted.
A week after that she had a heart attack. She pushed the alarm button, and when the carers came into her flat, she was on the bed and seemed to be asleep. They didn’t want to wake her (if only they did). My aunt found her the next morning, unconscious. By then her kidney (she only had one) didn’t work anymore. They tried for two months to save her life, wanting to put a ‘permanent line’ somewhere in her body for the dialysis she would need for the remainder of her life. Nowhere on her body did they succeed, and when they wanted to put the line in her neck, she said she was done. She didn’t want to be treated anymore. Her time has come. It took two weeks for her body to be so poisoned that she passed away, and in those two weeks she planned her own funeral.
My grandmother was a remarkable woman.
I have written about my mom so many times before. I don’t think I will ever be at lost for words, writing about her.
As close as I was to my mom, just as close my mom was to hers. When my grandmother passed away, my mother arranged the funeral, refused to see her mom in her coffin, was present at the funeral and went back to the graveyard once to check the stone she had ordered. She never went back again. Never. She never accepted that her mom had died. The first time I saw her cry about my grandmother, was when her eldest sister passed away, three years before she did. She never accepted her sister’s passing either.
Mom didn’t have an easy life, but she never complained. She married my father at only 17.5 years old, and stayed in the marriage despite him having affairs with his school sweetheart over and over again. She left school to marry him, but finally finished it the year after I finished mine. Back in South Africa, she worked herself up from a simple clerk to a Financial Manager, and when she moved to the Netherlands, she had to start at the bottom again, but only a couple of year in she was a manager again. Mom went through quite a couple of difficult times, and the biggest regret and heartache in her life was that she never married the love of her life. He was in her life (at a distance) until she passed away (even though he never contacted her during those months), and they did see each other on and off whenever he was in South Africa or in the Netherlands (he lives in the USA), but they never were a couple the way mom wanted it. Life was cruel to their love.
When mom learned how ill she was, she did everything to convince us that she would get better again. I think she knew from the beginning how it would end. From the moment the doctor told her the possible diagnosis, even before it was confirmed. We were three months in when I sat next to mom, and she said I need to bring pen and paper the next time I come, as she wanted me to take notes for her funeral. My heart broke into a million pieces, but I didn’t show it. It was a week before her 70th birthday that I sat down with her, and we started taking notes. I was in contact with my uncle – her brother, a minister – looking for songs, and having him write the funeral liturgy. It was during those moments that mom started crying and said she felt like she was abandoning us. I told her she wasn’t; the illness is just stronger than her. A week later was her birthday, and week after that, exactly a month before she passed, her body went in shock. Afterwards, she said she had wanted them to let her go. She was at peace. A week later she stopped getting out of bed. She could barely stand anymore. One more treatment followed to stop the bleeding in her lungs, and two weeks before she passed away, mom said she didn’t want any needles in her anymore. She was done. She was ready.
In her life, mom always did things her way, but the one thing that was most important to her was family. Her mom. Her siblings. Her children. Her grandchildren. Her great-grandchildren. She knew what everyone did, knew what was important to everyone, and always paid attention and showed interest to what we told her. Each and everyone of us.
Mom was a remarkable woman.
Our oldest daughter, my biological daughter, was born when I was almost 17, still just a child. I did my best to raise her well, but am honest in that I made a lot of mistakes, because of my own immaturity. She was the center of my world, a world where I had to find my own place, while also caring for my child. In hindsight the choices I made for us might not always have been the best, but they were made with her best interest at heart. I watched her grow up to a beautiful teenager, who blossomed into a lovely young woman, and who now is a woman who is the rock of her little family.
Where I admire the woman she has become, the thing that I admire the most is the way she raises her kids. I know if I tell her she’s the perfect mom, she will deny it and tell me about all the mistakes she makes, but if I compare it to myself, she really is the perfect mom. Her oldest son has been diagnosed with classical autism. He can’t go to a regular school, and has difficulties understanding ‘normal’ children. The way she has and is handling this, is wonderful. He is in a school where he flourishes, and recently she has contact a youth team to talk about how to help him be more assertive, as he has difficulty voicing his needs. She does all of this to prepare him to stand his ground in a cruel world, and she does this without losing from sight her youngest son, who doesn’t have special needs, but needs the attention of his mom as much as his older brother does.
And then, if that’s not enough, she is the one starting new traditions. Christmas Eve for the past two years were about a new tradition: inviting her brother and younger sister for dinner. Soon this will be pulled through to doing the same every other month, once at her house, and the next time at my son’s.
I look at her, and I see a strong woman, a woman with a will of her own, a woman that knows what she wants from life, a woman that loves her husband and children to bits, and who keeps her family close. She has a beautiful soul, without realizing it herself.
My daughter is a remarkable woman.
It’s only when people hear a bit of my life history and say ‘you went through some difficult times’, that I stop, look back and realize: yes, I did My youth was fairly uneventful, if you don’t count the number of times we moved, and the fact that I suspected from a very young age that my parents are only staying together for the kids. Then, pregnant at 16, university at 17, a dropout at 18 and then I started to work. Married at 20, pregnant at 21, divorced at 22 (because he abused my daughter), an severely abusive relationship at 26, immigrated at 27, married again at 31, divorced at 35, and then finally, also at 35, I met Master T. We moved in together when I was 37, married when I was 38 and the rest is history. At least finally, in the love department, my life has settled down, and I am more than happy.
Despite this happiness, my life is not easy. I am suffering more than I allow myself to say after my mom passed away, but I am also finding the current situation with Master T’s health very difficult. In the past 3.5 years I haven’t only lost my mom, I also lost the life we had. Where our D/s was quite intense, it’s now only simmering. Where we had a very active sex life, the last time we had sex was in September 2019. Master T has been on medication that had terrible side effects, one of them the total loss of his libido. He has just recently stopped with it, which makes me hopeful that once the meds are out of his body, some sex might happen again. I have frequently thought, and had mentioned it to Master T at times, that I don’t know where we would’ve been, had our love not been as strong.
I don’t mind caring for Master T. I will also not mind caring for him if he ends up in a wheelchair (this is reality, not speculation). I will always be at his side. Will always care for him. But this doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It’s hard, I won’t lie about it. It’s because I love him so much, because he is the man he is, that I do it with all the love in my heart. I’m trying not to think about what I lost, but to focus on what I still have; what we still have. Life is good, despite everything, because we are together, and I believe we always will be.
Looking back on my life, I see the influence my mom and grandmother had on me. I see how they have formed me, how I have taken on their values, and I also see the influence my daughter had on me. Seeing the woman she is, I know I have done something good, and that makes me feel proud. When I look back, I hope I am half as remarkable as the three women above.
© Rebel’s Notes