I never told you how incredible I thought you were. When I was a child, you were just “mum”; when I was a teenager, you were “annoying mum.” It is only now that you are gone and I can no longer see your face, hear your voice and feel your presence that at long last I realise that you were a truly inspirational person.
The memories are triggered by very random moments. I was watching a re-run of “Upstairs, Downstairs” and when the music/credits were running, I was suddenly back in our living room in Cheetham in the '70s. You had just come in from one of your Golden Products meetings; just one of your many ways of making money to raise us, and you saw that I was making Lemon Meringue Pie for you. The smile you gave me showed how much you cared and how happy it made you. – the words were – “You know you have an English GCE tomorrow!”
Maybe the bad giving of flowery praise + phrases is something I inherited from you – everyone told me that you praised all your children when we were not listening!
Music triggers memories; the opening bars of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” transports me to Fortes Cafe in Dublin. You managed to take us on holiday every year. Now that I am a parent and have seen first hand how difficult it is to bring children up single handed, I am in awe of how you did it.
There are so many things that I remember; all of them show your bravery, determination and love, Looking at your life, coming from a privileged middle class existence in India to an abusive, working class marriage, in the UK, struggling for money, it amazes me what you did to provide us with such a good start in life.
All of it was underpinned by your determination to educate your children. Many of your contemporaries thought you were tough on us, making us do countless verbal reasoning tests, spelling tests, reading copiously etc. Now I can only say thank you because no matter what life has thrown at me, my education + knowledge has always seen me though.
The memory that I try to avoid is when you were in the care home with dementia and you were so dependent on me. You were always saying “I was like a mum to you.” That memory hurts because in truth I was often impatient and irritable. I was not “like a mum” – but it was difficult to remember you as the strong, funny mum you had been before you were robbed of your life by an unfair disease.
It is only in your death that I have started to really see who you were.
I will always miss you.