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Family

Paddy Gower's Christmas letter to his dearly departed mum

''You've missed a lot over the past few years, but this year you were a big part of my work. So in some ways I feel closer to you than ever.''

Christmas doesn't have to be all about eating, drinking and opening presents. For many, it's a time to take stock and remember the important people in their lives – and in particular their mums.
Because when it comes to the festive season, it's often our darling mothers who make the whole thing special for families all over New Zealand.
We asked five well-known Kiwis to remember their mums this Christmas by writing them a love letter...
Here's Paddy Gower's letter to his beloved mum Joan.
Paddy with his dad Gordon and mum Joan.
Dear Mum,
I always miss you at Christmas – it's just not the same without you. It has been 12 years now, but that empty feeling doesn't change. It's always there, just like carols, turkey and ham.
I remember the childhood days, waking up to the Santa sack (my pillowcase) filled to the brim with presents.
Getting us kids out the door to go to church got harder and harder for you as the years went by, but thanks for trying, Mum.
Secret Santa was the game we played – cheap gifts, but the laughs and surprises were priceless.
Paddy with his mum in 2006.
You loved the whanau time, not just with us, but time with your own mum, sister and nephews. That was your present; that was what Christmas meant to you. I remember Lindauer, sunshine and the Mariah Carey Merry Christmas CD.
Christmas was always a chance for you to catch up on what I'd been up to – this year quite a lot was going on. I made a documentary, Mum, On Weed, about "weed" – yes, that kind of weed, cannabis or "waccy baccy" as you liked to call it.
That may sound crazy to you at first Mum, but hear me out! A lot of it was about the medical benefits and I wish you had been around to see it. You were even in the documentary, Mum.
I wanted to find out if cannabis could have helped your pain when you were dying from cancer, like when you battled your way through that last Christmas we had together – which I am sure you will wholeheartedly agree was absolutely bloody awful.
I interviewed Dad; he talked about how hard it was to manage the extreme pain you were in. We had a big cry on national TV for everyone to see. I hope that at the very least it encouraged other Kiwi families to open up about their grief rather than bottle it up – I'm sure you would agree with that too, Mum.
It touched a lot of Kiwis. Some friends of yours from primary school even got in touch, and wrote letters to me about what you were like when you were young, which was awesome.
Other people in the documentary told me how cannabis could have helped your pain, and in the end I concluded that I wish we had known to use it to try and help you. People seemed to really learn from the documentary – I'm sure you would be proud, Mum.
You were a gentle and caring person, you never judged anyone and people opened up to you. I'd like to think you passed those values on to me and that really helped while making the doco.
Thank you for being part of it, Mum, in so many ways. You've missed a lot over the past few years, but this year you were a big part of my work. So in some ways I feel closer to you than ever.
Miss you, Mum. Love you, Mum. Xx Paddy

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