Dying Mother Creates 'Masterclass in Motherhood' for Husband
by Susan Wagner
Jul 17th 2009 5:00PM
Categories: Single parenting
Jemma Oliver taught her husband to be a mom before she died. Photo: Wales News Service
When Jemma Oliver was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she set about preparing her family for her death. But rather than focusing on the funeral arrangements, the mother of two gave her husband, Jason, a detailed crash course in caring for the couple's two children
, son Keaton, 4, and daughter Codi, 2. Jemma, 29, walked her husband through every aspect of being a mom and left him plenty of instructions about what to do once she was gone.
"Jemma thought of everything and then organized me so that I would be able to cope," says Jason, 32. He admits that when his wife fell ill, he had no idea how to manage most of her chores; he didn't know how to turn on the dishwasher, for example. "The house was total chaos until she took me in hand. Then slowly and patiently, Jemma told me what to do. She taught me how to do everything for the children -- and for my sake, too."
Jemma covered every possible detail in her masterclass; she hired a hairdresser to come to the house and teach Jason to braid daughter Codi's hair, telling Jason, "I can't have my girl looking scruffy. No bumps in her hair please!" She also left instructions about what clothes Codi could and could not wear, and made Jason promise to take her sisters with him when he shops for Codi.
But Jemma's masterclass didn't just focus on chores and clothes; she also chose schools for the children, and left cards for their birthdays and written instructions about how she wants them to be raised. Jemma Oliver died at her home in Wales in February, with her husband and children by her side; now that she's gone, Jason finds comfort in her notes.
"I constantly look at her plans and instructions to help me. I feel as though she's there watching over us, guiding us along the way," he says.
Who makes most of the parenting decisions in your house? If you were to die, could your partner carry on without you?