Looking at my mum now, shuffling slowly, taking tiny steps with the aid of a walking stick, I can't help but feel so sad. Just a year ago, she could still sprint across the hall like a 7 year old. Seven years ago, she traipsed across Europe together with me.
We braved the English cold, trudged through the parks and markets in London, stood in awe of the Stonehenge, admired the beauty of Bath, visited the doomed Millenium Dome, crossed the Dover Channel on a huge ferry and landed in the diamond capital of Belgium where she urged me to buy myself 2 diamond rings. We dodged bicycles and peered inside the teeny weeny houses in Amsterdam; climbed up Eiffel Tower and watched Can-Can dancers strut their stuff in Paris; gawked at the opulence in the Versailles Palace, walked through ancient castles and guzzled too much beer in Germany; trotted across the Swiss countryside on a horse-drawn carriage; sampled chocolates in tiny Liechtenstein and stayed in an old fashioned pensione in Austria. So many cruises, castles and basilicas... but only one mum.
I remember she was a little slow in boarding the crowded subway in London and I had to pull her inside the carriage a little impatiently so that she was not left behind on the platform. I bought her a pair of Clarks sandals in Bond Street because we walked so much until her feet hurt. Today, she says that was the most comfy pair of shoes she had even owned.
The shoes are gone now but my rings remain as precious souvenirs and the trip brought back wonderful memories of time spent with my mum. I remember all the little things we did together in London. We witnessed the guards changing shift at the Queen's Palace, had afternoon tea and cakes in a small English cafe and watched Le Miserables at the theatre. So many firsts for the both of us.
Oh, how I had taken my mum for granted then. So what if she was a little slower than me and couldn't catch up with my big strides? Now, I'm so grateful we made that journey together.
Just a year ago, her doctor praised her for having the agility and flexibility of a woman half her age. What happened to the active and feisty mum I always knew? How can one's health deteriorate so quickly?