This particular weekend is one of simple reflection for me.
Normally I would be up jobs done and out with my camera by now. Meeting up with friends for a coffee or three and a chat, planning the day, where to go what to do. The usual sort of away from the humdrum of the weeks work routine. But today I am simply not in the mood. That’s not to say I am in a low mood. But today it is a ‘me day’. One of those days to take time to reflect and take time out to remember a particular event in my life, that had a huge impact on it.
It was 12 years ago this week (29th April) that I held my mother’s hand for the last time and talked to her as she passed away after a short but painful illness with cancer. I no longer dwell on the negative aspects of what occurred that last weekend of her life, or even the last few weeks of her life, but if anything I think myself fortunate to have been with her during the last few hours and even minutes of her life, knowing more than anything she wasn’t alone and therefore I hope and sense that she wasn’t afraid. What is strange for me is that I can remember almost very clearly every minute of those last few hours of her life, and yet I can hardly remember what I did a week ago, or even what I did yesterday.
Sitting here and typing all this now, I am beginning to think that some of my readers may think this is a bit of a morbid post to have to read, but in actual fact I don’t want it to be morbid at all, because for the first time in my heart I want this to be a shared celebration of her life and although what happened that day is very personal for myself and my family, that doesn’t mean to say I can’t share some memories with my readers.
There isn’t a single day goes by that I don’t in some way remember my mom. Even when I look out of a window and see a blue or grey sky, and think of something mom would say about it. When I sit down to a meal, and think mom used to love this….or even hated it. Looking out at my little bit of garden in the yard below my flat and seeing a rose I planted there in her memory and knowing how much she loved gardening with my dad, or more to the point how she loved planting seedlings and watching them grow and pricking them out when the time came. Through the summer months when she would go and help dad water the garden or prune the roses and deadhead the flowers, and how much she loved to spend time in our old garden full of such variety of flowers and vibrant colours.
On a Saturday she would have a routine of going out to meet my Aunty Ethel, moms youngest and only surviving sister. They both enjoyed going to local hospital fayre’s and sitting down to have a cup of tea and a slice of cake and a good old chat (or chinwag as they both used to call it.) Sunday nights she would chat away for at least an hour on the phone with my Aunty Hilda, who was moms life long friend as well as Cousin. Sadly, Aunty Hilda is no longer with us either.
Every Sunday lunchtime it would have to be the traditional Sunday roast, something mom would insist up on. Her favourite was roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Mom always only liked the simplest of foods, never anything fancy or anything that had spices in it unless it was ground mixed spice in her homemade bread pudding. She made the best pastry ever, it was something to die for. Homemade blackberry and apple pies were her speciality, as was her fruit cake.I hated the dried fruit and in fact I still do, but that cake itself was delicious, so moist and soft. With freshly picked blackberries and Bramley apples from my Aunty Edie and Uncle Lens garden mom made the most delicious pies or crumbles. As children, my younger cousins Jo and Michelle, my brother and I used to spend so many wonderful hours in the school summer holiday in that garden, picking the blackberries and blackcurrants to share out and take home for feasting at home. But of course, when your out picking blackberries you just have to sample some as you go along. Mmmmmm, nothing like THE freshest grown fruit off the bush straight into to your mouth. Mom and Aunty Edie always used to swear we ended up eating more that way than what we collected for the pot, actually in a way they were both right, the tummy ache on the night was the give away I think, oh and the blackberry juice dripping down our chins as we were picking them. We could explain the juice getting on our clothes as we were picking the blackberries, but never how the juice got on our mouths and chins!!
Every year for the family Christmas party get together Christmas night at my Aunty Edie and Uncle Lens house, mom would always make the trifle….completely from scratch. Next to the turkey, this was the highlight of all the food on the table. Mom also made the mince pies and sausage rolls because of her delectable pastry, and the sausage rolls were affectionately called ‘Western Rolls’ by my cousins dad.
Moms favourite colour was yellow, although she often insisted it was called lemon. And I often remember when I was growing up, she nearly always wore bright coloured dresses or blouses with her skirts, very rarely did I see her in trousers, and to this day I can say she never ever wore a pair of jeans. When ever we were all going out as a family anywhere, we were always very smartly dressed and we had always been taught very good manners, which on many occasions I can remember mom and other family member saying how proud of us they all were for having impeccable manners and remembering to say please and thank you.
When I reached the tender age of eleven I had started attending secondary school, (which back in the 1970’s the school system meant we were in senior school for 5 years after the 4 years in junior school then at the end of senior school we left to go out into the big wide world) I started senior school in the Sept of 1976 and suddenly I was learning new subjects such as sciences, during the first year back in them days we did what was called combined sciences which was a combination of some very basic biology, chemistry and physics. In the November of that year I was to put it politely turning from a girl into a young adolescent woman, but at that point on the science classes, or any other classes for that matter we hadn’t yet learned about such things as reproduction and the physical changes that go on in a girls body and changing into a young woman…..and the physical aspect of girls having periods every month. So imagine my absolute terror when one evening in the November at the age of 11 years old I went out riding on my bicycle after school, got home and thought I had ‘hurt’ myself so badly on the bike! Too embarrassed to tell anyone including my mom, I sat crying my eyes out in the bathroom for over half an hour wondering what I had done and what was happening to me. My mom came up and wanted to know if I was alright, I finally plucked up the courage to tell her, and she then smiled at me and hugged me and told me not to be so silly, I hadn’t hurt myself at all, and that it was all perfectly normal. Upon which she gave me a quick lesson on the growing up into a woman. It was that reassuring smile from my mom that helped me get through the first few months of growing into a young woman, before we finally did cover the subject in science at school.
For as long as I can remember my mom was always there for me, through the good and bad times. Times when I was ill, she was always there for me. Which is why when she passed away on the morning of Sunday 29th April 2001, I suddenly felt so alone for the first time ever in my life. Two months later I was to undergo a vital operation at the age of 36 in the form of major abdominal surgery, even the two surgeons who were to carry out the side by side operations said there was over an 80% chance I would come out of surgery with a colostomy, whether temporary or permanently they couldn’t say, but I can remember thinking, if I have to go through the rest of my life with a bag on my side, then it’s best I don’t wake up from the surgery. Having to face that sort of major trauma, without my mom to help me through it terrified me, but to this day I swear my mom was there beside me in her own way looking after me and making sure I did wake up from the surgery and without a colostomy bag. I’m sure in her own little way she has been looking after me ever since.
In the past with my depression, when I have reached rock bottom, something has always been there in the background to help me get back on track . I don’t just mean the medication doing it’s work. Even when I have had so little faith in myself, there has always been one person there doing their bit to help me get better again, and pick me up when I fall down, helping to guide me through life. Why else am I still here otherwise when I have given up hope so many times in the past. Bless you mom.
Many thanks for stopping by, and sharing some of my memories.