A week on Monday I head back to the island on which I was born and (for the most part) raised. I’m nervous and excited and looking forward to seeing people that I haven’t seen in five and a half years. I’m desperate to smell the vraic (seaweed) on the beaches and soak in that sea air. Desperate to see familiar places and familiar faces. There will be some missing though, most notably my mum.
It’s been over thirteen and a half years since I lost my mum. And yet I still catch myself wanting to tell her something, going to pick up the phone and talk to her, only to remember that she’s not there when I hit the last number on that phone number that’s so much a part of me I don’t have to even think about it.
I used to laugh, as teenagers do, at my mum’s fashion sense. She was small in height but not in girth and the leggings she wore used to make me swear I’d never own a pair, ever. Well that kinda went out of the window. Along with the ‘I’ll never wear tracksuit trousers’. Yeah I do that too, at least around the house, along with yoga pants. But then I’ve always loved yoga pants (I used to be a dancer).
I look in the mirror and I see her face behind my features. I’m growing to look more and more like her each day. And although I’m thinner than she was, and taller too, I recognise the shape of my eyes, the shape of my lips and the slight (as in you don’t notice it unless really looking) kink in my nose. All of these I get from her.
But I also get other things from her. My desire to ensure the happiness of those I love. My love of baking. My addiction to dramas and trashy magazines. My love of walks to clear my head comes from her as well. Even when her energy was waning, she loved nothing better than a walk. I get my love of animals from her as well.
Mum was my first role model. Not the only one, but the first. She taught me that it didn’t matter how much you had as long as what you did with it counted. That there were (and are) always people who are worse off than you and that you should help them in whatever way possible (I suspect that this is where my love of charity fundraising comes from). She taught me that it didn’t matter if the world thought me fat, skinny, short, tall, ugly, beautiful, or a plethora of other things, what matters it hat I stay true to who I know myself to be. It’s not always easy, but I can see the logic behind it and I try to do that every day. If I don’t succeed there is always tomorrow. She also taught me to follow my heart. That it would never steer me wrong. And mainly she was right on that count. Sometimes though, it’s wise to let the mind temper the heart. And I’ve learnt that the hard way.
On the Wednesday morning of being back on the island, I’ll go with SJ up to the crem and visit Mum’s ashes. I’m still mad that he interred them when I wasn’t present, and I’m still mad he didn’t follow through on her wishes. But as least I’ll get to go, with a friend who knew her so very well, and sit and tell her what’s happening in my life. To tell her about the exciting prospects coming my way and the issues that have happened.
I don’t think there’s a day that will ever go by without me wanting to speak to her again. Without wanting to hug her, or talk to her, or heck, even fight with her, the way we used to. I miss dancing around the living room with her on a Saturday afternoon, singing along to Doris Day, Rose Marie, or Connie Francis.
My mum fought so hard to conceive, she lost five of her children, and by some miracle I didn’t make that six. Two of us are still here. And I know that she loved us, with all her heart. As I will continue to love her for the rest of my life. She wasn’t the strongest of women, wasn’t the smartest, or the brightest, but she had a good heart, and was a good person. And she was the one who reminded me each and every day that I was loved, no matter what he told me.
I wish with all my heart that I could be going back and into her arms, instead of going to the crematorium to visit her ashes. I wish that things could be different. But I’m also grateful for the time I had with her.