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  • Today would have been my mother’s 60th birthday. I recall other 60th dos I have been at, we all gathered across the generations to raise a glass to the milestone men and women. Flashes of familiar faces, worn by age and experience, flushed to be seen looking so good for their age. How would my mum have celebrated living through six decades, and why isn’t she here today?

    One thing is for sure, alcohol would have been and was involved: it ran in my mother’s blood.
    Wendy drank to celebrate life but her happy habit had its dark side, that so many of us know, the consuming spirit of ethanol. As it went on, she and my father didn’t socialise unless it was through familial obligation: they infrequently saw their two daughters and their clans. The couple seemed to love living their own private party with endless drinks and smokes - they did not want nor need for strangers who would intrude or worse judge them. In their prime the parties spawned great businesses and epic trips abroad, and many were energetically and successfully realised by my mother.

    When Wendy’s children had children of their own and she was not working, and then her hip ached and grumbled more, Mum slowly slipped into her cosy drink in her cosy home in Crowtown. She was in good company, her husband of 40 years and co-conspirator in their lifeworld. But she became unhappy and bored, the days wound down and her pain and its anaesthetic preoccupied her. Her world closed in and, ultimately, she shunned assistance and turned to face the wall, and willed herself to die.

    In our family it was known that once Mum decided to do something then it was as good as done. She was stubborn, strong-willed and certain, and she died less than a week after expressing the strong desire to do it, less than four weeks before what would have been her 58th birthday. We suspected suicide but she didn’t need to use pills, she stopped all the pills, and eating, and drinking, and just drifted into her dreamscape. A week before she died Mum told me she enjoyed sleeping now, as it was the only time she felt free and happy again.

    When she died I was furious for the waste of it, the waste of her life force which she and those that loved her had witnessed and allowed to ebb away. I wonder whether she struggled enough against the addiction swirl before succumbing to its lazy ways, and why she repeatedly chose oblivion knowing each time she chose she stepped closer to her hedonistic fate.

    In parallel lifetimes I can see Mum at 60, sunned and lined, dyed hair, plumper than she’d like but glowing and giggling, enjoying her loved ones and bright with mischief. Perhaps she would be celebrating abroad in the once adored campervan, revelling in the chaos of imbibing with unknown friends. She would raise a toast of wine to herself and say with gusto – ‘Cheers Woo – congratulations Yeh!'.
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