It was summer. The sun shines brightly but does not feel that hot on my skin. I think it was just about a fine 23 degrees Celsius. Just enough for us to enjoy our trip to Ballarat. We were going to attend a family friend’s wedding. But maybe because of the bright and inviting weather, my mom suddenly decided that we make a stop along Murray River before we go on our way.
It was supposed to be just a shortstop, but then we ended up staying for a day. My mom fell in love with the place. Since it was her birthday also, we just go as she wished. We rented a cottage, and my dad arranged for a boat ride.
We went freshwater fishing which was exciting. My sisters and I had never been to a place like this before and had never gone fishing. It was such an adventure.
For city kids like us who rarely goes out, the sight of winged insects, worms, and caterpillars feels icky at first. But when the man who was with us was able to catch a fish using the worm as his bait, we feel delighted. We tried it ourselves with eagerness. It may not be quite a success for us but the fact that we enjoyed a new activity together, the memory we made that day stayed on.
We were so happy, and so was my mom and dad. Before we left the place, we made a pact that from then on, we will go back to celebrate mom’s birthday there.
I didn’t know that that would be the last birthday she’s going to celebrate with us. My sisters and I were not aware that mom was very sick. Mom had some kind of a heart condition, that they kept from us. Before the school year starts, mom was hospitalized. She stayed there for months. We were allowed to visit her once a week. Our home would sometimes feel empty. It was lonely coming home without mom there. My mom was supposed to be the person that’s picking me up from school and taking care of my needs. But it was my sisters, who looked after me during those days. Even dad was not always home with us.
One day, I was playing in the playground with my friends when mom suddenly showed up. That day, she spent the whole day with me. She untiringly joined us to play.
I thought, “Oh so glad mom was okay now.”
It was another happy day for us. But the truth is that her doctors released her from the hospital saying there is nothing much they can do. It would be better if she just spent her last days with us, her kids, making happy memories.
Mom asked dad if we can go back to Murray, and so we did. We have been there two days when mom requested that we stay by the beach. That time, it was a bit cloudy and windy, not like the first time we were there. The mood was a bit gloomy. But as usual, mom and dad tried to make the atmosphere lively. I never thought that that would be her last day with us.
As my sister’s and I were running around, my mom and dad were sitting there holding each other’s hands, mom passed away. Wearing her favorite pink dress with a hat on her head, I can still remember how peaceful she looked that afternoon.
Dad tried hard to hold back his tears. My sisters brought me into our room. They don’t want me to see what’s about to happen next.
It’s been years, and the memories are so vivid as if they happened just yesterday. Every year, we still come by Murray to reminisce and fulfill mom’s wish that we spend her birthdays there.
By the beach of Murray River, was both my happiest and loneliest memory of my mom.