On Thursday 30th April 2020 we will lay my lovely Mum to rest. She was a strong and brave woman who succumbed to the horror that is Covid 19. I'm not here to share my grief or devastation that my Mum was snatched away from us all too soon, or to debate how I feel politics has failed her and all those brave people who have also passed away due to this virus and the shattered families they leave behind, no, I'm here to celebrate my Mum, because to everyone who knew her she was pretty fab.
She taught me to be a strong woman. My Mum was only fourteen when she had my sister, married at sixteen and I came along at seventeen. My Mum and Dad had been married for forty seven years before the 15th April 2020. Being a young Mum in the 1970's and 80's, she was part of a generation who had to fight to get their voices heard. Even when they did it was often ignored or scoffed at. She taught us, along with my Dad, to be independent thinkers, liberal and our own person.
She worked hard. She looked after me and my sister in the day and then went to work in the evening. When me and my sister were old enough to see ourselves home from school, my Mum started a day job in retail. She went on courses, went for promotions, and became a Manager for two local Clark's shoe shops in our town. She thrived on this both personally and financially. By then I was at University in Bath and my sister had moved into her own place. This financial freedom allowed her and my Dad to buy their first home - a home they made so lovely that it felt like it had always been my home too.
OK, things didn't always go well, and in her forties she was cruelly struck down with rheumatoid arthritis - a disease that stole her career at it's height. During this time I got married. I was still living in Cardiff, but I missed my family and wanted to go home. We did another year in Cheshire for my husband's job and then we jumped ship back to the Midlands. I had a baby - Parka, and I can honestly say without my Mum I'm not sure I would have got through it. I had a brilliant pregnancy, followed by a thirty hour labour and every contraption put inside me known to human kind, until eventually I had an emergency C-section. As if that wasn't enough, I got an infection that laid me up for days after I got home, but my Mum was there to love and support me and her first born Grandson.
We had a lot of fun that Autumn (Parka was born in October). We discovered Cbeebies, kids Autumnwatch, Mr Tumble and heaps more. I bought Halloween shaped dishes for snacks, and Jack O Lantern pumpkins to put on display. My Mum helped me feed Parka, she helped me feed myself! I always think back on that time with such fondness, when life was full of optimism, possibilities and excitement.
Two and half years later, my second son was born - Jackson. Again, my Mum stepped straight in. He was another C-section (sun roof baby), but this time I wasn't quite so poorly, but clearly needed help. She came down everyday whilst my Dad was at work and we sat and played with the boys until my Dad picked her up again. It's fair to say those two boys were the sunshine of her life, and I am so grateful, and they are so blessed, that she was in their lives for as long as she was, for Parka it was14 years, and Jackson 12 years.
When Jackson was one years old, we upped sticks and moved to Cornwall, St Ives. It was a dream I'd carried with me since I was fourteen. So, me, hubby, Parka, Jackson and our three cats, chugged down the A30 and set up home. Two years later, my Mum and Dad sold up in the Midlands and moved to St Ives to be with us. It was a moment of madness, and we had a mostly fantastic time and now that my Mum is not with us in body anymore, those years in Cornwall have become more treasured than ever.
Fate intervened, as if often does, and my Mum and Dad headed back to the Midlands. A year later, me, hubby and the boys followed them. With all of us back together with my sister, we forged a tight bond and saw each other as regularly as possible. We shared all our celebrations, especially Christmas, which will always be a special time for us. This year will definitely be a strange one without her, but we'll definitely raise a glass to her knowing she'll be there in spirit.
One of the best memories we share as a family and about my Mum is our holidays to Whitby in Yorkshire. We started this on my Mum's 50th Birthday, where we'd hire a cottage by the sea and we'd all set up camp together for the week. We did it again on her 60th, and again just last year, just for the hell of it. It'll always be our special place sitting up by the Royal Hotel looking through the wishbones to the Abbey.
I can honestly say I have never felt the type of pain I felt when my Mum passed away. When people say they're "heartbroken", I didn't truly understand what that meant until the 15th April 2020. Right now I can't quite shift the pain and brokeness, but I'm hoping that ole chestnut, time, will put it right someday. Trying to share grief during 'lockdown' is possibily the cruelest part of this virus. Not being able to hug my Dad and squeeze my sister. Making funeral plans over the phone. Choosing flowers without even seeing them. No church service, and only six persons allowed. We've accepted this now, and we've done the very best we can for her, because when this thing subsides we'll give her the send off she really deserves.
So, I want to say a huge thank to you Mum, for being strong and brave and for teaching me to be the same. For giving me, all of us, your unconditional love, for your kindness, patience, generosity. For your laughter and smiles, for all the love and hugs you gave the boys, and for all the hugs you gave to me. I can't quite believe I won't see you again, but you will always be in my heart. Your legacy is such that you remain all around us, whatever we do, wherever we go. I will miss you forever, and love you forever. I just hope I was always a good daughter to you.
Love you Mum