Losing Our Parents

By Danielle Mantakoul

This was not my intended article this week. In fact, as I sit here now my publishing deadline five hours away, I can’t imagine writing about anything else. The call has come, my grandmother who raised me has passed. When my mother died, it was she who stepped in, put her life on hold just as she had done to raise her own two children, and embarked on the journey once again for me.

I feel like a child again. Like I have been left at daycare and all I can think about is wanting to be picked up and taken home. At 42, this feeling does not sit well. It’s hard to imagine our parents not being there, and this is surprisingly sending me back to my most inner childhood self.

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To know she is no longer in the world, and that the person that loved you the most is no longer there to do so, is a most unsettling feeling. Sure our husbands love us, our siblings, even our friends, but a mother’s love is something unique, something to be cherished and I miss it already.

I shall miss her witnessing my future successes and even failures. No-one blew my trumpet more than she did, and I shall miss the noise. She would often tell me how disappointed she would be not to see my children grow up, to see my daughter marry, or my son’s 21st birthday. Comments such as these would annoy me. I didn’t want to hear them. To talk about death when your children are young seemed so unnatural. Looking back though I should of said something more comforting than “don’t say that”. But it is what it is, and I can’t change it. Mortality won’t let me, it simply chooses to slap me in the face.

The good times stick out. I was always fearful when she died that those words in anger or annoying comments would stick in my mind. I am so glad that this is not the case. When thinking of her, I can see her laughing with the kids, telling me my skirt is nice and how she recalled making it, even though she didn’t. How she was the only person in my life to shorten my name, how I hated being called Danni, and how she would tell me my cooking was so tasty even as she was scraping her plate into the bin.

I had lied to her the last few weeks of her life. With severe dementia, yes I was my mother, yes I would take her home soon, yes her unit is still there and her belongings untouched. It feels good not to have to lie to her anymore, and her death leads me to believe she will now somehow from above “get it”, why I did what I did.

I wish that I had told her that she did it. She accomplished what she had set out to do, and that was the best for her family. For a woman that raised three children single handedly, held down two jobs, worked until she was in her mid 70’s, lost both of her children before she passed and fought breast cancer, my grandmother/mother was a powerhouse. A lady that put the children in her life first, time and time again. A lady that will be missed… unfortunately, more than I cared to think about.

Forever in our hearts Dossie. Love Aidan, Bella, Will and Danni.

Described by many as one of the most dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry, Danielle has now educated thousands of parents on a wide range of topics surrounding early childhood. Mum of three in 17 months including twins and a special needs child, Danielle is well aware of the battles that families face today with young children.

Creator of the “Early Years Toolbox” and “Ready Set School” talks, Danielle’s humour and child impersonations always leave her audience wanting more. Those who have seen her claim “she gets it”.

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