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Mum's Way

by Ian Millthorpe Lynne Barrett-Lee

Angie and Ian were childhood sweethearts, Angie adored kids and, as one of eight children himself, Ian was only too happy to have as many as they could. After their marriage they had three sons in quick succession. But then, aged just thirty one, Angie was diagnosed with breast cancer and the couple had to accept they might not be able to have any more. Five years on, though, with Angie well again they went on to have five more. But in 2007, Angie had a shadow on her lung and it was the return of the original breast cancer she thought she had beaten. It seemed the disease had returned to tear their world apart again. Though Ian searched tirelessly for cures, Angie practised acceptance. She wouldn't live to see her children grow up. Raising eight children would be a big job for any couple; to raise them alone, without their mother, an almost Herculean feat. But this was exactly what Angie wanted Ian to be able to do. So in the last months of her life, Angie compiled a list of 'rules' to guide Ian in the future, and put him on an intensive training course, so he could learn all the skills he would need. She taught him how to make her special chicken curry, how to soothe away their hurts, pack their lunchboxes with all their favourites and do all the little things she'd done for them so unthinkingly. And Ian knew he wasn't just doing this for the children. He was doing it so his beloved wife could be comforted by knowing that he had the tools to bring their children up her way. Finally, inevitably, came the hardest task of all. Angie, the job done, had to find the courage to let them go, and Ian and the children the courage to carry on without her.

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