Meaning of Mother' Day (2)

The Meaning of Mother’s Day

We asked Michelle Bruggeman, COO at Levande, about the Meaning of Mothers' Day. Michelle was kind enough to pen the following heartfelt article.

Mother’s Day for me has always been a chance to spend time with family (and maybe let them spoil me a little), and to think about the relationships I’ve built with my own adult children, Xavier, Caleb and Lauren. It’s also a cue to reflect on my own qualities as a mother. I’m so grateful to have strong and loving relationships with all my kids, but every relationship needs work and attention, and an effort to improve is never wasted.

Workwise, we make a special effort to ensure all the Mums we take care of in our villages (and that means mothers, grandmothers, great and even a few great-great grandmothers!) are made to feel extra special. A key part of Levande’s Wellbeing Calendar is holding a special Mother’s Day event in each of our 58 villages around the country.

But Mother’s Day for me took on even greater significance a few years back when my own Mum was diagnosed with early onset dementia. My dad passed away very suddenly during Covid (when funerals only allowed 10) and we were left to navigate the aged care system to find the best place for mum where her needs would be met.

Every family who’s gone through it would understand how a diagnosis of dementia knocks you sideways and can mean big changes in your family’s plans.  By nature, I’m a problem-solver. If I couldn’t stop the disease, I wanted to find a way to soften its impact.

So I decided to capture my Mum’s memories before dementia did.

I spent the summer of 2021 interviewing my own mother – recording as much as I could about her 81 years on the planet. Her childhood, her schooldays, her success as a swimmer, meeting Dad, making a home, and raising a family. The big things and the little things as well. It was all important.

I’m not a natural writer, but with such a personal connection to the story, the words flowed easily onto the page. When it was complete, I had the manuscript published and gave copies of the book to all the members of my extended family. It’s become a treasured record of our clan and Mum’s story will survive, even when the rest of us are gone.

There was one more thing I did for Mum while she was still healthy. I asked my parents – then in their mid-70s – to write a love letter to each other. This Mother’s Day, we’ll read Dad’s letter out aloud to Mum. That will be at least one memory dementia can’t steal. I think it’s the perfect gift.

Michelle Bruggeman will be taking part in Dementia Australia’s national Memory Walk & Jog next month to raise funds for people impacted by dementia.

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