Updated on February 21st, 2021
My Mum, circa 1964 (ish)
Last weekend marked 17 years since I lost my Mum & this weekend, with everyone celebrating Mother’s Day in the UK, it seemed an appropriate time to pay tribute to my wonderful mother, Wendy. Seventeen years is a long time but I can still hear her voice every day – generally telling my Dad off (a trait I clearly inherited from her!) but also telling me how much she loves me & how proud she is of me.
My Mum was never one to make a fuss. We recently found a diary which she kept in 1964 – the year she & my Dad got married. It’s precious in its understatement. For example, there are very few entries at all but one that stands out (10th February) simply says “Eddie asked me again & I said Yes”. I know from experience that when Terry proposed to me I had a little more to say! Family legend has it that the first time Dad asked, Mum replied that she’d “think about it.” On Sept 12th, Mum & Dads wedding day, there is the simple entry “Church 3.30” – Hilarious!!
My Mum was an inspiration, although if she were to hear this I know she would scowl & tell me off for being overdramatic (although deep down I have no doubt she would be touched!). When at 22, I announced I was going travelling on my own, Mum went against all her instincts & didn’t say “don’t do it”. For me, that was the bravest & most awe-inspiring gift she could ever have given me. I came back a stronger & more confident version of myself, having seen some amazing things & met some amazing people. It made me who I am today & gave me the opportunity to see & experience everything I hold as precious. She was scared for me, of course, but never let it show. She put my ambition before her own motherly, protective instincts & in that, I think she was more courageous than I have ever been.
Don’t get me wrong, my Mum was not a hard woman. She was the most loving & giving person you could possibly meet, dedicated to us as her daughters & selfless to the last. My Mum lost her mother when she was only 12 & had a tough upbringing as a result. After this, I always feel she was determined to make our childhood as full of love as she possibly could.
Me, Mum & Al – 1973 (ish)
I was never lucky enough to meet Terry’s mother Josie (who he lost just before we met), but I know she was an amazing woman too, with similar characteristics to Wendy. When we were in exotic locations, Terry & I used to fantasise about how fantastic it would be to bring our Mums along. We talked about how much fun we would all have, with them getting a whole new set of experiences & us enjoying seeing how much pleasure they got out of it.
My Mum was a fantastic cook, a trait I, unfortunately, didn’t inherit but am learning fast. Terry was the chef in our house. For both of us, our favourite dish (which came from both our mothers) was the traditional Sunday roast & Terry had perfected it over the years. He would often say when he presented an overflowing plate of delicious beef, roast potatoes & more vegetables than would fit in our garden, “I promised your Mum I would keep you fed & watered!” That was always special & I always had to eat everything. It’s how I was raised.
There is something special about mothers from our parents’ generation which I didn’t realise until I was lucky enough to be invited to stay at my friend Vikky’s mums’ house for a night last year. Although I have many friends who are mothers, they are generally just like me, but with kids. Staying with Gwynn was a revelation that I wasn’t expecting. Her house & garden were both cosy & immaculate, with ornaments on the dressers & mantelpieces which although different, were very familiar. She took great pleasure in looking after us, cooking for us, making us feel at home & basically doing everything she could to make my stay as comfortable as possible. In the morning she cooked us breakfast (didn’t have any herself but cooked for us). I suddenly realised how long it had been since I had been in this position & how much I missed having my Mum around. Maybe Vik, Terry & I are just lucky but I think there are plenty more where Wendy, Josie & Gwynn have come from.
My Mum missed me turning 30, getting engaged & wasn’t there on my wedding day. She missed the birth of Harriet, her second granddaughter & seeing her & her sister Amelia grow into the beautiful girls they have become. She was, however, there at the birth of Amelia. She met Terry & saw me buy my first house & finally settle down (to a huge sigh of relief!), and she was there to help us move in together.
My Mum was the glue that held our family together & she would love to see how close I am now to my sister Al & her family, despite us living at opposite ends of the world. Losing her made me realise the importance of family & how precious our time together is. I know that would make her proud.
If you are lucky enough to be with your Mum on Mother’s Day, please look around the house with new eyes, cherish the knick-knacks, the way they care for you, say “yes” whenever they offer you something & appreciate every moment. When they’re not there you finally realise how amazing they are. So this Mother’s Day please say thank you, give them a big hug & an extra squeeze as it won’t last forever.
Mum & I, sailing on Sydney Harbour – Jan 1995