Deena and I were working together in Sydney for an online careers web site back in 2002. We were both in the Marketing area. In her ‘spare time’ Deena was taking a leadership course and needed to create a community event as part of it. She wanted to reach out to motherless daughters in some way and approached me for help.
Prior to this, Deena and I really hadn’t discussed the fact that our mums had died in much detail… we both knew what had happened… but that was about it. When we started chatting about this community event for ‘motherless daughters and sons’ I knew we were onto something that would be positive and emotionally satisfying, but I have to admit I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on so many people.
I have always believed that people deal with their grief in their own ways, and it’s fair to say that Deena has always worn her heart on her sleeve a lot more than me. I was also amazed at how many books and grief counselling resources Deena knew about – I’m sure that really helped her to cope with her loss at such a young age.
Whenever friends or colleagues talk about someone losing a parent they always say that I’d know what they are going through… and I always say that I don’t. Everyone has a totally different relationship with their parents and deals with loss and grief in different ways. Sure, I know what it was like to lose my mum… but I don’t know exactly what anyone else is feeling. This was really evident to me as Deena and I became closer – sure we were both ‘motherless’ but we had really different scenarios to deal with.
I had an incredibly strong relationship with my mum and still feel like I do. After Mum was gone, I took over her role in running a household for dad and my two brothers. I was happy to do it… In a way, I actually feel that I am a better person because of mum’s death. It sounds strange… but I look at things differently, react to people and situations differently and can never be more proud than when someone compares me to mum. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish she was still here and that has certainly been stronger since my son was born in September 2006.
Trees for Mum is definitely one of the ways that has helped me to be a better person. Through this event I’m delighted to be able to offer a positive way to spend a particularly difficult day – Mother’s Day - to so many motherless sons and daughters. I’m constantly amazed at the vast array of people who plant trees. We’ve seen young children who lost their mums recently, to elderly people who lost their mums 50 years ago. The symbolic gesture of planting a tree is such a positive way to remember our mums. I know my mum, and I’m sure Deena’s mum would be very proud.
I love the fact that Deena and I are able to combine our skills to deliver an event like Trees for Mum – we really complement each other. When it gets to the stage where one of us thinks it all seems too hard… the other one will remember an inspiring moment from previous years, and we’ll get back on track again. It is a lot of hard work, and definitely something we couldn’t do on our own. As well as each other, we have lots of other volunteers who help us get the event across the line.
It is great to be able to look forward to Mother’s Day rather than to dread it. Wherever they are, I hope that both of our mums have met – I think they’d get on like a house on fire.