13th February 1960 - 11th July 2003
by Shona-Lee Allerton
No-one knows how long their time on earth is going to be,
So when we are of an age to understand
That this is our one chance to get it right,
We should find the things that sing to our soul
And make them our driving force.
Having a fulfilled soul will bring us joy
When all is going well
And solace when life is difficult.
The songs will change with different phases and decades,
But you must always follow your "Bliss"
It is a day of reflection. It has been 7 years today since my Mum lost her battle with cancer. I am listening to a compilation of her favourite songs as I write this which we put together for what would have been her 50th birthday celebration in February this year. It was a wonderful weekend with all her loved ones and also brought alot of closure for me as I never truly grieved her death as grieving was just too painful. Now I feel sad and there are tears, but I also feel proud for having been her daughter. My Mum was sad when she passed but I feel she was also at peace as you can see from the words she wrote for her own funeral programme below. It has taken me a long time to come to that same kind of peace and acceptance but I finally feel like I am making progress. Even in death I find her an inspiration. Here is a small taste of who my mum was.
I hope you are resting in peace now Mum, I love you.
I want you to know what it was really like, to be me.
It's important to understand the essence of who I was. My driving force, my "bliss," was beauty: creating it, living with it, being it, buying it, experiencing it in places near and far. I’m talking about beauty with value, depth, style, class, and a soul. I'm talking about beauty that would sing to me and make me high.
Because my life was so full, and I always had one of my God-given talents to occupy me, I don't feel so short-changed now. I feel I did most of what I was put on this earth to do. I always had a feeling that my time on earth would be shorter than I might wish for so I crammed a lot in.
I was an artist, a writer, and a poet. I wrote songs (not many people know that because I wasn't a singer.) I designed clothes and sewed hundreds of things for myself and my girls. In more recent years I had a successful business creating home accessories for some exceptional Wellington shops.
I created some very beautiful gardens for our home in both New Plymouth and Wellington, and loved old-fashioned roses. I also made the inside of these homes as pretty as I could. I loved making quilts and cushions and bed linen, and buying things to make my home even more beautiful, a place that would make me feel warm inside and bring a smile to my heart. I don't believe in the ostentatious, the extravagant, or the flashy; those things are for people without the style to turn modest into desirable.
I was a woman who made femininity an art form. I loved classy clothes, perfume, jewellery, make-up; just generally looking and feeling good, for me as much as for others. Would you believe, some people laughed at that.
I guess they were the kind of people who didn't have it in them to understand.
All of this might make me sound a bit frivolous. But I was not. I liked to learn things, to educate myself long after school was just a vague memory. I had a fierce interest in pre-history and lost civilisations and all that kind of stuff; in travel, and maybe most of all, in self-improvement and life philosophies. I loved to read. You could always find an interesting book at my place, not to mention many beautiful books about gardening, decorating and other feminine things.
I was unhappy with the ugly, the mundane, the mediocre. I disliked being put in a position of boredom. I disliked wasting time. That wasn't me. But in the right conditions I bloomed. My mother used to call me her little "prairie flower."
That probably summed it up quite nicely.
If I have regrets now, it is that I had so much love to give and receive, I would have liked more time with all the people who touched my heart. If there is a heaven and I am in it, just know that I will be as near to you as I can get. When you think of me, think of me as the positive, strong, smiling Shona you knew. Keep me close.
I feel I have left a legacy, that the world is a better place for me being in it, and I think that we all wish for that to be the outcome of our lives, when they end.
To have loved, to have created, to have learnt and to have taught; to know that you were the best you possible and lived as fully as you could, with your soul. To be unique, to have dug deep and found your authentic self.
I was Shona-Lee.