It’s my birthday today. It’s also a month to the day that my lovely Mam passed away, suddenly and without much warning, leaving us completely devastated and with so many things left unsaid. So it’s my first birthday in my whole life, all 39 years of it, without my Mam. Now I know it’s the natural order of things, but still it just feels wrong that the person who brought me into the world 39 years ago today is no longer here. It’s still early days and I still go to ring her or see something I know she’d love (invariably floral in nature!). I still have “Mam and Dad” in my mobile for their number and I can’t bring myself to change it.
I miss seeing her when I go to their house. She would jump straight to the window waving when we pulled up in the car, excited to see Jake, her golden boy. If he was asleep in the car she’d let me go in the house for a cuppa. She’d sit in the car for ages, watching him breathe, waiting for him to wake up and reveling in her grandson who had truly brought the life back into her life in recent years.
It’s strange how death evokes random memories, such as her stroking my hair when I lay broken hearted on my bed crying about being dumped. How she always said “There’s a pretty girl” when either my sister or I were dressed up for a night out. We certainly knew we were loved. I read once that the greatest gift you can receive is the knowledge that you are loved. In that respect my sister and I had no doubt. My mam never failed to praise or defend us, no doubt boring friends to death over the years about how great we were (in her eyes anyway).
I miss her and Jake playing hide and seek when I come home from work, giggling like partners in crime as I pretend to not have a clue where they are. Her endless patience with Jake, the laughter and fun they had, is something I hope he never forgets and I will do my utmost to keep her memory alive for my son. We have sent a balloon up to his beloved Nana in heaven, telling her how much we miss her and loved her. (Words I wish I had had a chance to say, but for now the balloon will have to suffice).
I remember her generosity, not just in her love, but in other ways like slipping us some cash when we were destitute students. And if she came along on a shopping trip you could guarantee she’d insist on treating us. She would not take no for an answer, even in recent years when we both had decent jobs and salaries to match! But that was just my Mam. Then when Jake came along there was a little treat for him most weeks – a new book or paints, a bar of chocolate or a little t-shirt she had picked up on in town. We were all very lucky and blessed in that respect.
I have great memories of my Mam helping me pick my wedding dress, and I could just tell she was over the moon to help. And her coming along to one of my midwife appointments (it was actually my “sweep” when Jake was overdue) and Mam just loved being involved and supporting me when I was about to become a mother myself. Maybe in retrospect I should have involved her more. It’s a powerful thing, hindsight.
Over the years I know I must have inflicted a lot of worry on my Mam, rolling in drunk (or not rolling in at all!), moving away to Leeds, going out clubbing instead of revising for my A levels, plus the usual dramas with friends and boys along the way. But her love and support never wavered. As a Mam myself now, I totally get this now. It is unconditional. And yes that is a cliche but it is a killer when it’s gone. I miss you Mam, and always will.
Your daughter Joanna