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Friday, 27 February 2009

The end is nigh

Mum saw the medics yesterday and her cancer is incurable. So I am entering the surreal zone where you confront the fact that your parents are not going to last forever, that words need to be said and plans made.
Mum's mantra remains that I should not get upset and I cannot do that for her. How can I not cry for a woman who has given me so much? I have decided to stop drinking in the coming weeks and months as I need to be strong for her and other family members.
Did I tell you that my mum is amazing? She remains so in her ultimate crisis. She feels she has had a good life particularly since marrying my dad in 1950. She mentioned her grandchildren and her many good memories and stated "how lucky am I!". That on the day she is told she is dying!
There is some sort of subtle irony in her hearing this news on the day Wendy Richard died from the same disease. Like Pauline Fowler, Mum has that mix of passionate defence of her family with care for others in the community. She also has a cracking pair of legs just like Miss Brahms!
The title of this blog now will seem odd to those who do not know my mum. However, she will party through her remaining days looking after us all, making it easier for us all and packing in lots of fun along the way.
I hope in time I am even half the woman that she is.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

How I feel - mum and cancer

The phone call from Mum came on Monday afternoon. "How are you doing?" I asked as usual. "Not too good" she replied. Now with Mum, such a response can be anything from feeling tired to having flu. This time it is more serious - she has been diagnosed with cancer. The whole telephone conversation felt very surreal with me trying to remember what one is supposed to say and do in such situations. Trying desperately to think of a book or a film where a character finds the right thing to do when told their mum has cancer. Found myself saying inane things about it hardly being a surprise as she has lost several siblings to the disease. Mum kept repeating the mantra of "I don't want you getting upset". So I didn't and after talking on the phone, informed my husband of the news and then did the school run with total equilibrium.
Later that evening once the children were in bed, any level of self-control disappeared. I found myself sobbing uncontollably and treating my husband to a huge emotional outpouring of how much I loved my Mum. "Why can't you tell her that?" he asked. "Because I am my mother's daughter!".
So I am going to write here about the wonderful character that became my mum when I was eleven months old. She always wanted to have a daughter to treat well. She said she wanted that girl to have the things she went without during her childhood in the Thirties. Two sons came along shortly after her marriage but no daughter. One day in church, we says she felt called and felt there was a little girl waiting for her. She went and banged on the adoption agency's door even though they were closed till they let her in. She was right of course and that's how she became my mum.
To describe Mum is challenging. Firstly she loves to get her teeth into a project of some sort and is, therefore, very good in a crisis. Over the years I have delivered lots of projects for her from school misdemanours to being the first child in the family to go to university to relationship breakdown. She has organisational talents and due to her age and circumstances has never quite reached the huge potential she had for some brilliant career. However, she has channelled her energies into working for the church on a voluntary basis raising money, running dances, doing funeral teas and committee work. She is an inspiration and I think I get my sense of taking on the apparently impossible from her along with a keen sense of social justice.
Mum did factory work but found her passion as a cook in hospitals and schools. Food is a huge part of our lives and a focus for family gatherings. Mum never did things by halves when we had visitors. Table settings and everything was just perfect. Nobody does it better.
Mum can be very feisty and like all mums and daughters, we have clashed on occasion. This has sometimes led to long silences with us both being too proud to back down. Over the years, I have come to realise that she lacks self-belief and the mixture of that with never really doing all that she could has led to a deep sense of frustration. Sometimes, as her children have pursued careers, I think she has found it hard to relate to what we are talking about. Too often, I have perceived that as a lack of interest on her part. She is also great at telling me how wonderful my brothers are but saying little of what she thinks of me. My brothers report she does the same to them so they get fed up of hearing how superb I am. I know there is nobody I would like to impress more than my Mum.
I scored huge points when I delivered her 3 grandchildren. She was well into her seventies when my first son was born. Being the amazing woman that she is, she moved into a totally new area so that she could provide childcare whilst I went back to work. So my first-born had the magical, caring and fun presence that she brings - a great start in life. She remains a lovely grandma to him and my other son and daughter. When she walks in the room, balloons and party-poppers follow. She stayed with us at Christmas and my husband dined out on stories of staying up late with her playing charades and other party games whilst the drink flowed.
She is just brilliant and a larger than life character. I love her totally. I do not know what lies ahead but maybe she will read this one day or I will put it in a letter and she will realise just how vital she is.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Not the last post but the very first!

Welcome to my first blog post.
Will aim to amuse and bemuse in equal measure and to find my muse too!
Who am I?
Unwanted baby - not the best of starts!
Adopted baby - converted to princess by parents
Swot at school - in other words, I actually liked reading
Shy student - but went from disapproving to trying to advocating debauchery during 3 years
Charity worker - changing the world and being underpaid and redundant far too often
Mum - stepmum first so know all about, erm, challenging behaviour. Then along came my three angels or that's my story and I am sticking to it
Career Woman followed by stay at home mum/boredom
Twitterer and ready to step back into the world. Watch out!