Mum meant a lot of things to a lot of people. Apart from being a mother to me and my sister Nicki, a mother-in-law to my wife Ruth and Nicki’s husband Michael, and a Granny to our daughter Emily, she was so much more than that. A teacher for most of her working career, she touched the lives of everyone she taught. Maybe some of those more than others, but I’m pretty sure she had an impact on all of them.
Divorced from our dad, which I am sure was heart-breaking for her at the time, I don’t think I ever saw her being particularly sad. Cross, yes. Angry, occasionally, (and if she was, I was probably the cause of it)! For the rest of it, she was a strong, vibrant, single mum who enjoyed life to its fullest. I’m sure it wasn’t all raindrops on roses and maybe she had bigger dreams or ambitions that she wanted to achieve, but then again, maybe she did that by raising Nicki and myself. One of us got the smarts for the academic stuff and the other, the practical side of things, with a bit of each other’s talents thrown in for good measure.
I spent 3 hours this morning cleaning the cooker hood and filters to within an inch of their lives. It’s wonderful what you can learn on YouTube. Some boiling water, salt, vinegar, and bicarb of soda. Mum was reasonably practical I suppose, smashing up concrete in the back garden whilst wearing my skateboard helmet for protection and building a doll’s house pretty much from scratch. She built the furniture and even put in lighting as well as decorating each room. She painted in oils, did pottery, sewing, and went to evening woodwork classes with my high school woodwork teacher.
Our father on the other hand was not practical. He hung a picture which became a shelf after having made the string too long! In many ways, he was a great dad, but DIY was not his forte.
Mum had to put up with a lot. A divorce, a daughter’s teenage years and a son’s teenage angst, his twenties traumas, and his thirties and……well you get the picture. She was always there for both of us when we needed her. She was everything a mum should be, caring, supportive, encouraging, and most of all, loving. And all these things didn’t just come to us. They pretty much encompassed everyone she met. From her days in the WI to her retirement and volunteer work at the local care home, and everything in between.
As children growing up, I don’t think that we ever appreciate our parents as much as we should. I guess up to our teens is when they are most important to us, and then the reality of life takes a hold of us too. High school, exams, girlfriends and boyfriends, college or university, work, etc, etc. Suddenly, we are facing the same pressures that our parents are, and whilst we still love them, there is a subtle change in the parent, child dynamic. It’s not much, and at the end of the day nothing really changes and it really doesn’t matter, but it is there.
And even in her later years when she came to visit Ruth, Emily, and myself in Greece, she was still game to be adventurous. We decided that it was such a great day and the sea was so calm that we would go out on the boat. I knew that we would be landing on the beach and that getting back on the boat would be difficult, so I took a stepladder! So the time comes to get back, and sure enough, the ladder needs to be deployed, much to the amusement of some local Greeks on the beach. When I told them that she was 85, they gave her a round of applause!
Mum was a single-parent, working, house mum for most of her life, and if any one of us can look back at our own lives when and if we hit 91 and can say we achieved what she did, then we should be proud of ourselves. We’re certainly proud of her.
We love you Mum and we’re going to miss you. God Bless.
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