When Mum died

A fly-on-the-wall moment from everyday life.

Peter Leith is 89 and describes himself as “half-deaf and half-blind”, but he has never been one to dwell on his challenges. When Mum died continues his series of true short stories.


We had only visited her three weeks before and the news of Mum’s death came as a big surprise even though she had a weak heart for many years.

Eventide, the home she lived in for years, was just so good about contacting the family. First they tried to contact brother Bill in Darwin, but he moved house two years ago and forgot to give Mum his new phone number or address. Luckily they also had my mobile number and were able to contact me where we were on holiday on Hamilton Island.  

They offered to make all the arrangements – they have all the right contacts anyway – which was very good because Bill could not get time off from his work and we had only just started two weeks’ holiday and could not afford to cancel and lose all that money.

Eventide arranged the private cremation and have kept Mum’s ashes for us to collect, along with all her bits and pieces, when we get back from holiday.

When Bill comes down from Darwin for the reading of Mum’s will, we have decided to have a quiet family get-together and sprinkle Mum’s ashes at the beach alongside Dad’s.


This is one of a series of short stories in a growing collection called Aspects of Ageing. Peter says the anecdotes are based on fact and “reflect the reality that there are many forms of ‘age abuse’.”

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    3rd Feb 2019
    When my mother died she was cremated. Dad kept her ashes in his bedroom. When Dad died we placed the container with Mum's ashes into Dad's coffin to be cremated with him. We then scattered there ashes from a beautiful hilltop lookout. Together forever.
    3rd Feb 2019
    My Mum died suddenly at 69 in 1996. I look upon a photo of her daily where her lovely blue eyes smile back at me. I miss her. Just dropping in for a cuppa and a chat or picking up the phone to tell her some news. She wa cremated and her ashes are buried at our local cemetery. I drive past there every few days and sometimes I go and sit there for a while and continue our conversation....
    3rd Feb 2019
    Casey....I did the same with my parents' ashes... saved dad's until mum died then I scattered both at a beautiful hilltop lookout here in UK.
    old frt
    3rd Feb 2019
    Wow, Peter must of had a pretty close family .NOT. A brother who did not make contact with his mother for two years and would not take time off work, but could come down for the will reading. Peter could not afford to loose his holiday money when she died ,to come back and help with her final arrangements .How many times does your mother die?
    3rd Feb 2019
    I thought the same thing. How could you holiday on or lose contact ... weird!
    3rd Feb 2019
    I presume the above story is fictitious, to elicit a response, which in itself is sad enough. If however by some remote chance it isn’t, please advise the writer along with their brother to report to the nearest hospital to be put down; Their Birth Was A Mistake!
    3rd Feb 2019
    Life experience
    3rd Feb 2019
    Yes. I agree.
    3rd Feb 2019
    That’s sad. I still miss my mum 20 years later. I see her photo on the piano every day. She loved when I played for her. I had an epiphany the day she died which changed my whole outlook on life, religion and death. Was it a message from her? I’ll never know.
    Life experience
    3rd Feb 2019
    Truthfully this upset me. Definitely not good sons. Dump in a nursing home and forget.
    Don’t make effort to go to funeral. That’s disgusting.
    Go to Will reading. What’s in it for me mentality.
    How can they live with themselves. Selfish , self absorbed men.
    Karma might come back to them. And same done to them.
    23rd Jun 2019
    I was overseas studying when Mum died. We knew she was ill but we all, including Mum, expected she would still be there when I got back. We spoke on the phone a few times. Suddenly a call came; this is the end. You can say a few words; she can hear but can’t speak. Very difficult. I didn’t come back then. Dad and the rest of the family handled things. Later, many people told me of being absent when their parent died; that was comforting. Many years later I was able to be there for Dad at the end. So pleased I could stand in for others then.
    17th Jan 2020
    I don't think anyone should be made to feel guilty about not being able to be there when the parents/loved ones die. It's not always possible and that's just the way it is. When you're dead, you're dead. In other words not aware of anything. It is much more important to visit them/make contact/take care of them while they are still alive than worry about being there when they die. When people visit a grave it just makes them feel better rather than do anything for the dead person. I helped look after my mother until she died and I visit my father now that he is in a nursing home but may not be there when he dies as my life goes on and I may be overseas when this happens. Why do the religious think they have the right to call all the shots and make other people feel guilty for their choices. Your religion is supposed to teach you compassion and to not sit in judgement doesn't it???
    31st Jan 2020
    My brother was not at our father's funeral. At the time of Dad's death my brother was in Queensland with his wife living on board his yacht, and as well as being disabled she was heavily pregnant. Thus he was unable to leave her there alone, and she was unable to fly, so he couldn't come home to Tasmania. Dad wouldn't have wanted him to risk leaving his wife alone, so I told my brother it would be okay to stay away.

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