My family history reveals quite a few deaths by various cancers over a span of four or more generations.
This could strike fear into many present-day hearts – or at the least, cause more than a little disquiet – a sharpened intake of breath – perhaps an unexpected thudding in the chest. However… unless scientific research proves the opposite to current thinking, these cancers are unrelated and carry no sinister genetic ramifications for me and mine. No more chance of that dreaded diagnosis than 138,000 other Australians estimated to hear the devastating news this year.
This was reason enough for me to tuck any doubts way back into one of the dark recesses of my ‘think-tank’. UNTIL… the deaths of several dear friends, my father-in-law in 1985 and my Mother in 1999, changed all previous odds and thinking.
What could possibly lighten the burden of this bringer of darkness to the soul – this cruel destroyer? And pondered some before realising the answer was already right in front of us – DAFFODIL DAY.
The Cancer Council Australia began in 1961, expanded nation-wide in 1997, and adopted the glorious Daffodil as their emblem to raise awareness and produce messages and merchandise to raise money for Cancer research, education, support – and inspiring care and renewed hope in the hearts of victims AND their families.
Apart from its obvious beauty, we wondered why the choice of the Daffodil. Here are the actual words from the Cancer Council –
The Daffodil was chosen because of its reputation as a hardy annual flower; pushing its way through the frozen earth after a long winter to herald the return of spring, new life, vitality and growth. As one of the first flowers of spring, the Daffodil symbolises rebirth and new beginnings. To Cancer Council, and many affected by cancer, the Daffodil represents hope for a cancer-free future.
AND then the Cancer Council divulged that recent research revealed a natural extract from Daffodils holds cancer-killing properties – a concentration that could trigger cancer cell death. Imagine… all that wrapped in a supremely beautiful parcel.
Our individual way to observe and salute this emblem of hope and renewal took place at our two mothers’ funerals. Each had died a year apart in August. We held each funeral on Daffodil Day and requested donations to the Cancer Council in lieu of flowers – despite which some dear souls gave both.
What we gave, apart from a wondrously huge wreath of mainly roses on each coffin, were dozens of daffodils on their proud, long stems for each of the mourners to set into those great wreaths. In the shortest time, the final resting places of our darlings were transformed into a blaze of golden joy – a wonderful symbol of all they gave to every life they touched, bringing countless smiles to shine through the tears.
As William Wordsworth wrote –
‘And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.’
On Daffodil Day – and any other day when your heart is over-burdened with grief and loss, maybe these beautiful thoughts can help –
To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever…
The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes…
This hole in your heart is the shape of the one you lost – no one else can fit it.
~ Jeanette Winterson
OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.
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