The family wishes to extend deep gratitude to all, for the prayers, support, comforting messages, calls, flowers, cards and gifts during this time of bereavement.
When we were at the hospital with mum the nurses and doctors always asked: “How does Idalina like to be called? Does she have a nickname?”. Every time this happened my sister and I looked at each other.
That was what we always called her. For us – for all of her four children – Idalina was our Mãe. Even though there must have been times she was tired of four discordant voices constantly calling her, she never complained. She was our Mãe, more likely to complain when we did not call for her enough. Even the partners of her children called her Mãe, she was very happy with that. More people, more voices.
Who was Idalina to you?
Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Friend? Our Mãe had many titles and roles. Not the official sort of titles, but the titles that matter. The titles that meant that she had real worth in life. Our Mãe was someone worthy, I hope she knew that, and I hope she understood.
Mãe passed away on 20 May 2022. The clock had just passed its long reaching hand over the mark of half-past-one in the morning as she took her last breaths on this earth. So the reaching hand of the Almighty took her own. Surrounded by her three daughters – yes, we were constantly calling her even then – Mãe went away peacefully, not suffering anymore.
She fought bravely through the cruel damage in her brain, and the subsequent complications. When everyone thought it was her time, in the hospital, she fought on when the machines and medics could no longer do so. Mãe went when she was ready, not before, not to anyone’s schedule but her own. It was with a heavy heart that we decided to bring her home – hospitals are a place for many things, but not a home after all. It was with thankfulness that we could see to our Mãe’s last moments in an atmosphere of love and care.
The cats were there too. I should have added “cat-lover” to the titles above. More voices that she loved to hear.
Whilst at home, in the coma that had become her state, she was visited by the very same people who had gathered around her at the hospital. By her devoted mother and also her greatest friend. By her three siblings. All told her she was loved, held her hand, reminisced about better times, their childhood together in Madeira where they were all born. On the 12 April when she was first struck down, we all hoped for her recovery, now over a month later we hoped for her to not suffer pain.
Mãe did not leave us completely, however. Of course not. I only have to look at her six grandchildren to see her still here. They all share something you must have noticed too if you knew our Mãe – the cheeky smile, the glint in their eyes. Wonder. That was how Mãe approached life, with wonder and cheekiness. Always to her own schedule, always with a cup of coffee – Americano, in the smallest cup possible, thank you. Repeated as necessary throughout the day. Or night. Always with a butterknife as makeshift tool, looking for a plug to fix. A wire to run to fill the house with Portuguese television. Another reason Mãe will never leave us is because we will never forget her. Filha, Irmã, Tia, Prima, Amiga, those titles keep her with us. Keep her with you. Add your voices.
Who was Idalina to me?
I am her eldest daughter, to me she was the person who I kissed good morning and told me to never, ever, say “adeus” when I kissed her goodnight. “Too final”, she told me. Mãe was the person who looked at me with her head cocked to the side every time I sat silently at the kitchen table as an adult stealing her cigarettes. Too many words to say, but she knew just by looking at me, silence was no barrier to Mãe understanding what I did not say as she sat down opposite me.
To my sister, the middle daughter, she was the person who had monthly tantrums only to make up soon after, we learnt very early on to never take sides with those two. Mãe and my sister were so similar, Mãe said so herself to anyone that cared to listen. To my sister she was the person who gave advice and was constantly ready to help. She wanted a word, a gesture, a visit and Mãe was there…coffee in hand, crochet in her bag, raised eyebrow at the ready.
To my brother, she was the person who held the line when the world became too complicated. The world is complicated, but at times Mãe made it stop and let him breathe. That was what she did for my brother. The person who he could always turn to.
To my youngest sister, she was the person who was always there to give hugs and kisses. The baby of the family. It was not unusual in recent years for Mãe to ask my middle sister to drive her to Kent so that she could spend a couple of days looking out for her youngest. Both shared a special bond with each other, a bond that remains true. Mãe was a role model, and Mãe would do anything for her youngest – as long as my middle sister drove her there.
Mãe made it halfway across the Atlantic ocean, bringing us with her one way or another, and as we spread across the city, or the counties, we were still always in touch. Transport links are oddly terrible on a smaller scale than that between the island and here.
We will remember. I hope you will too, no matter who she was to you.
Think back with joy and recall all the good times, it is what our Mãe would want.
To Mãe we have one simple final message, so from my siblings and I:
Thank you, we love you, and – this time only – Adeus, Mãe.
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A selection of floral posies. Approximate sizes are:
A beautiful range of sympathy baskets. Approximate sizes include:
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