I had never seen this photo here before my mother died. It’s of her, aged about 21 (I assume), clutching a champagne bottle, with a glass on her head and obviously, from her facial expression, a fairly high blood/alcohol level. I found it as I sorted through her things in the house, tucked into an old briefcase she had kept since the 70s. I keep it in my wallet now.
This image of Mum is the best way to remember her. When myself and my sister were teenagers, the front door of our house was always open to every one of our mates, and parties were encouraged. Mum would often be the last up, drinking and chatting with our mates until the wee hours. It was fairly special, and we realised we had it pretty lucky.
Everything changed when she was diagnosed with MS. A substantial personality overhaul can be fairly common with MS, I found out later. Mum got less rational, more emotional and withdrawn, and then began the slide into physical deterioration. For someone so active, so alive, it was gut-wrenching to watch the person she was disappear. No more golf, tennis, sailing. We had to take the car away from her, and she went from using a stroller to needing a wheelchair. She could see it too, and the frustration of it drove her deeper into depression, and the spiral of decline steepened.
Mum spent the last year of her life, unable to walk and barely able to mumble a word or control her limbs, in a nursing home in Stillorgan. At 49, she was the youngest person in there by close to 20 years.
On September 23 I’ll be running the Sydney marathon in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and in memory of my mum, Mary, and her unusually intense struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. She was very unfortunate in that her strain of the disease was particularly virulent, most people last a lot longer, but also have to deal with its effects over a long period of time.
There’s no cure yet, but the MS societies here in Australia (I’m living here now, in case you weren’t aware) and at home are a source of immense support to sufferers and their family. Trust me, they need all they can get. I won’t go into more guilt-tripping detail, but watching a loved one suffer from MS isn’t pleasant, never mind suffering from it directly.
My goal is to raise $5,000 in Aussie money in Mum’s memory. With the Aussie dollar weaker than a kitten with the ‘flu, this represents great value for money for the Irish donor in terms of looking generous. Even a measly ten euros will buy you a whopping $16 of good vibes at the moment, so you effectively double your karma. And it’s tax deductible! Extra bonus!
I’ll do all the leg-work, all you need do is guide your mouse and your credit card here: www.everydayhero.com.au/IrishEcho and find the donate button to send a little half-price lurve straight to the MS Society. Remember, this offer will only last as long as the global recession, so balance your spiritual books while the going’s good!
Sincere thanks in advance, everyone, and do please pass this email on to anyone who:
a) remembers Mum for her trojan work in the sailing race offices, tennis club or with Meals on Wheels and ARC House OR
b) is looking to launder hot money (we’ll take it any way we can).
The ticker currently stands at a shade under $700….
Thanks so much to everyone who has already donated – it means a lot.
Some marathon ‘facts’ for you:
A marathon is 40.195 kilometres long, or 1,661,220 inches. That’s approximately 448,978 Mars bars laid end-to-end.
A marathon runner has a 1 in 55,000 chance of having a heart attack during the race.
Twelve of the world’s top 20 distance runners are members of the Kalenjin tribe of Kenya. I am not one of those 12.
Athletes dressed in red are more likely to win than athletes dressed in another colour.
An average man has enough energy in his fat stores to run non-stop for 3 days at 15 miles per hour. I consider myself slightly above average, but that’s just arrogance.
In 1989, Tim Gould became the first man to beat a horse over a marathon distance at a race in Wales. The feat has only been replicated twice since.