Archive | my mum RSS feed for this section

My writing soul: is it goodbye?

5 Feb

I hoped the silence would be temporary, but I think perhaps the past year has taken more out of me than I realised, and now we are moving city and schools and lives. So I fear the silence might be permanent.

I hope I’ll find my writing soul again, but a part of me believes that maybe I found writing at just the right time, or rather writing found me, to carry me and give voice to my tortured thoughts at a very difficult time.

Can you write your heart out and have anything left to say? Only time will tell.

In the meantime you can still find me over at In The Powder Room for my regular weekly column on a Thursday. So I’m still writing and mixing it up – a little.

A milestone I wish I could sidestep

2 Feb

Today is not a day I wanted to see again. 2nd February 2011 and I heard those words for the first time “Strongly suspected lung cancer”. A precise yet misleading jumble of words only superceded in its devastation by the final field on a form flashed up on screen at the doctor’s surgery a week later:

<header> Prognosis=

<body copy> 6-12 months.

Of course there was to be nothing as munificent as a whole year.

And so the rollercoaster began. The concrete cancer diagnosis, the tests that confirmed its spread to the liver. The terrifying fits and subsequent brain scans that showed further metastisis. Radiotherapy. Chemotherapy.

And then 10 weeks later, the end.

So it’s a year to the day my sister rang to tell me the routine scan bore shadows.

And with those words I remember she took my voice.  Leaning against the glass of my patio doors for support, silent, the breath sucked right out of me. Curious physiology.

2012: Why I don’t feel like celebrating.

31 Dec

Don’t much feel like welcoming in a New Year – 2012 – a year my mother never saw.

All change and every first is tinged with enormous sadness now. I turn around, bursting to share my news, to feel and share and experience together.

It’s just not the same.

But I WILL try and embrace that difference. There is going to be an awful lot of it this year.

Love to all for the year ahead.

M2Mx

The Lovely Bones: the film and me

21 Dec

image courtesy of grahamowengallery.com

Christmas is rushing at me at a hundred miles an hour I hardly have time to breathe, let alone think. Except people keep reminding me of the significance. Telling me how sorry they are, how difficult it must be, how much I must miss her. Somewhere below the surface I sense the gaping hole, but I am being carried along by the momentum of childhood.

And thank God for that ceaseless wave of agitation that rolls up and down but is never one way for long.

I watched The Lovely Bones for the second time the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it. How dark and menacing the world can be, but how beautiful things can come out of that tragedy. New relationships can form, old ones strengthen, your focus crystallised on life’s brief flashes of wonderment.

You can’t keep looking backwards with regret and loss, you must look to the future and allow yourself to be swept along in the tide of life.

I’m not sure if that IS what the film was about, but it’s what I took from it. A sense of magic, mystery, hope sparking free amongst the ashes.

Yes Christmas will be difficult this year, I miss my mum every day with an aching that never dissipates and I am still incredulous as to how I got here and just how much I’ve lost.

But living in the here and now, treasuring the precious moments with my family and especially my beautiful boys – well, I have my own lovely bones right here.

Moving on: Just don’t think about the sex

13 Dec

I said good bye to my family home last week. I always thought I’d meet the people who bought the house, but it just didn’t happen. Time passed and the decision went unmade. Would they want to meet us? Become part of our story? And then it was simply too late to ask.

And so we left the bottle of wine and the card and our sad hearts on the mantelpiece and closed the door for the last time.

*************************************

A gay couple, that’s all we know.

We didn’t meet them, but that didn’t stop us inventing a really flamboyant back story.  One that would have delighted my mother.  Exquisite taste, a passion for fine wine, classical music and art, prone to flounging about in velvet dressing gowns holding enamel cigarette holders and puff puffing away as they tittle and tattle about the awkward cadences of Mussorgsky.

I can see them now, lounging about in the piano room, gesticulating wildly as they carelessly spill gin and tonic onto the authentic persian rug.  Happy, amused, carefree.

Of course they could be Dale Winton’s brash younger cousins for all I know.

But I like to believe all these things, because they comfort me.

Except for the goings on in the bedroom. My mum enjoyed the company of homosexuals but I know she didn’t like to think too much about the bum sex.

I hope she’s covering her eyes.

In the Powder Room: When good husbands go bad

1 Dec

I’m In the Powder Room Today talking about how I lucked out with Mr Milk.

Apart from that, things will be a bit silent for a while as I say goodbye to my family home.

M2Mx

Why my mum didn’t tell me she loved me

16 Nov

As we sat in traffic lights on the way back from my mum’s final radiotherapy session she turned to me and said “I’m scared I’ll die before I’ve told you how much I love you”.

*********************************

Love isn’t telling somebody the fact. It isn’t giving a big present or making an inflated gesture.  It’s showing it.  Over and over, year upon year, bit by bit. It’s the small things, the things that go unnoticed at the time, but that make you know that someone is there.

It’s feeling it. Constantly and consistently. Despite the arguments and the harsh words and the differences in opinion. Like a warm blanket draped across your shoulders.

********************************************************

So as the traffic lights turned to green I touched my mums hand and reassured her that her job had been done a long time ago.

And when she passed and there were no final words, no declarations of love, no grand words or gestures, no tears, it didn’t matter.

I carried all I needed to know around with me in my heart.

That is love.

 

envy is an empty emotion

15 Nov

When I was a teenager my mum once said to me “Never be jealous of someone else,  you never know what life might throw at them.”

At the time I was 14 and jealous of EVERYONE.  Jealous of Kate for the money her mum gave her to buy the naughtiest knee high boots I’d ever seen. Jealous of Lucy for the boys that she kissed and of Rachel for the pink Kickers she wore with her white denim skirt. I was covetous of Ruth’s copy of We are Transvision Vamp! and bemoaned the passing resemblance she had to Wendy James, and I swooned when I heard about Carol’s trip to Hollywood where she was chatted up at the airport by a Michael J fox lookalike.

It turned out Kate had the clothes but her father had not hung around for long, that Ruth’s mum was having an affair with the local vicar and would fall pregnant with his child 2 years later, and that Carol’s father lost his job and they would never get to go on another holiday again.

So don’t be jealous of me for my beautiful, healthy boys for whom I fell pregnant easily. Don’t envy the nice big house I’m hoping to buy, or the time I am able to take out to reassess my life.  I am lucky in so many ways, but I also lost both my parents to be here.

Life gives and takes in equal measure. Your grass might be greener than mine but I have a kick ass mower.

Happy Birthday Mum

25 Oct

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 72.

I remember vividly her birthday last year. She, me and all the Milks, my sister, her husband and their girls, and a special day out at London Zoo. I’d just had my fringe cut and, as always, was nervous what my mum would think.  At 33, her opinion was still the most important to me. A daughter dancing for her mother’s attention.

We had taken a picnic. A trademark affair. Couscous and roasted vegetable salad, an assortment of sandwiches, delicious rye bread from the deli. We sat on a rounded bench encircling a dwarf maple, our feast of delights spread out around us, carefully placed among the splattering of pigeon droppings.  Later, we sang happy birthday as my mother pretended to hide under the hood of her jacket, much to the delight of the children, as we tucked into the most delicious coffee cake I’ve ever eaten. (made by my clever sis). And I remember thinking fleetingly – “Could this be the last time we all celebrate together like this?”.

I don’t know why this thought came into my head that day. Perhaps holding something perfect in your hands makes you fear the loss of it.

2 months later as we all sat together on my mother’s old red velvet sofa and posed for a photograph the same thought came into my head. “What if this is the last picture we have all together like this?”

2 months later came the diagnosis, and 4 months later my mother passed away.

I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but I knew what was to come. Instinct wrought from intimacy.

I miss you mummy, every day.

Brahm’s lullaby – played at her funeral.

A portfolio career: why it’s the only choice for working mums

19 Oct

image courtesy of http://streetphoto.com

I’ve left and gone back to work at least 3 times in the past few years. It’s not so much that I don’t know what I want, more that that kind of work just doesn’t quite do it for me anymore.  I mean I like working, I’m much happier working and am in no way a voluntary stay at home mum.  So I keep going back to work, hoping to find something different.  Maybe to find that I’M different.  But I don’t. The corporate life just doesn’t seem to “fit” anymore.

And then someone mentioned the idea of a “portfolio career”.  I quickly googled it “A tapestry or a variety of eclectic employment experiences that when combined are the equivalent of a full-time position”.  Hmmm, interesting.  I read on. “Portfolio careers offer more flexibility, variety, and freedom..” mmm sounds good “but also require organizational skills as well as risk tolerance.” Organisation skills – check, I’m the professional equivalent of a one-man band. Risk tolerance?  Heck, my mum just died so I, more than most know the value of grabbing life by the short and curlies. Check, check and double-check.  

“Portfolio careers are usually built around a collection of skills and interests”.  Bingo. Just like my mum I thrive on being busy and am never happy unless I’m doing 3,4,5 things at once. I’m rubbish at focussing on one thing at a time without getting bored / distracted / impatient. Plus, it’s not like we’re talking about anything very new, us mums have been doing this kind of thing for ages. And now you can get paid for it? Huzzah!

So I was sold.  I think the thing is that once you’ve been out of work for any period of time, you realise that the typical 9-5 doesn’t have to be the only way. When you’re in the midst of it, it feels like a given. It’s what people do, it’s what YOU do. Only when you take time off, for maternity leave or some other significant life event, and you’re away from the confines of an office during those missing daytime hours, do you start to notice there’s a whole other world out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than aware just how fortunate I am.  For many, work is an obligation not a choice. Liking it or being fulfilled by it doesn’t mean jack. So lucky? Yes of course.  I’d still rather have my mum.  But if losing her means I have this chance to do something that fits me better, that gives us a better balance in our family life, well I reckon my mum would have been made up.

And if you want to know what the portfolio looks like, and how its risk/reward ratio stacks up? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.