Survival and my Mum part one

As you know, I’ve been a bit sorry for myself lately – physically and emotionally. Okay. I’ve been having a massive pity party but you know sometimes it helps to get it all out. Sometimes it doesn’t and we need to work through it by ourselves and it’s good to know the difference.

I’m far from perfect though and can’t always tell the difference but writing helps me and it’s cheaper than therapy! I know I have a long way to go to work through all my crap but hey, I’m a work in progress and this work in progress needs to start thinking happy thoughts.

A lot of this had been because I miss my Mum. A lot. Like every day a lot. She was my best friend and she understood me and my baggage in the way that only a Mum can. She stuck by me through everything and I always knew she loved me no matter what dreadful shit I put her through.

I often spend too much time feeling sad because she isn’t here and because I don’t get to share all the new amazing things that happen every day with her. She isn’t here for me to ask for her always incredibly wise opinion. She isn’t here to ask about great recipe ideas when I have totally lost my cooking mojo. She isn’t here to ask for the parenting advice I desperately need. But most of all she isn’t here to be the Nana that she so dearly wanted to be to her Grandchildren.

But then I started to think the other day that actually she is here isn’t she? After all I am half her! I have all the memories of all the years she was here too! So I am going to try and remember all the fun and awesome stuff about my Mum so that I don’t forget because sometimes I feel her memory slipping away and it scares me. I find it harder and harder to hear her voice and the way she hugged me tight. I don’t want that to happen because she was a very special lady.

I will write about what happened when she died but I’m not ready yet, certainly not at the moment.

So here’s some stuff about my Mum, to help keep her alive, because sometimes I pretend she is and I pretend I could just pick up the phone and she’d be there. It’s not denial. I know I can’t really do that but it is survival and we all have to do that in whatever form it takes.

My Mum was Jennifer Susan Greenacre (nee Oakes) She liked to be called Jenny and this year she would have been 70 on the 25th September. We would have done something special for her I like to think because she did love to have fun.

I have a great memory of her headbanging to Queen at my wedding with my dear friend Sue who also sadly passed away after my Mum. I like to imagine that they are being drunk and disorderly somewhere together with gin and Freddy Mercury.

Mum loved Queen and she wanted ‘Don’t stop me now’ played at her funeral but I couldn’t pull that one off as my dear Dad just couldn’t. I still feel to this day that I let her down on that one and am still trying to think up a way to make up for it.

She also loved her red Audi TT roadster and she drove around very cautiously in it with Freddy blasting out very very loudly. She wanted to be buried in it but I couldn’t pull that one off either, sorry Mum.

She really liked gin. See? I take after her…

She was very very funny and had a dreadfully infectious laugh. Once she started that was that. I remember being in France with the whole family and we were a bit tipsy at a café where a mariachi band were playing. The trumpet player was definitely wearing a wig which unfortunately for him seemed intent upon rotating around on his head as he enthusiastically jigged about. This caused Mum to shout ‘WIGGY’ at every possible break in the music and then promptly look around innocently. Naughty Mum.

I had an Art teacher in high school who’s name was Mr G Bennett. I told Mum his christian name was Gordon and she came home extremely red faced from parents’ evening. It was Graham. Sorry Mum, it was just too good to pass up! She was trying very hard not to laugh whilst pretending to be cross.

Talking of parents’ evenings there was one rather special one where I had drawn a lovely picture of Mum and written a piece about how great she was and that she didn’t even jump on chair when we got mice in the house. It was the same parents’ evening where my sister had drawn a picture of Mum and Dad holding what appeared to be martini glasses with the caption ‘My Mum likes to drink a lot’. I remember her saying “So your teachers now think we are alcoholics living in a vermin infested house!! Great!!”.

Once Mum and I got so drunk at a Christmas party in our village that Dad had to get the car to bring us home. We lived about 300 metres away. I blame a certain Mr B and the vodka. well that was our excuse anyway. I was 16 and thought it was just orange juice. Oops. Oh well it was the 80s, it wasn’t such a nanny state then!! Sorry Dad.

Mum loved parties. She also loved food and was an incredible cook who could always rustle something up out of nothing. Her Christmas dinners were especially legendary! She studied home economics and needlework at college despite going on to teach Special Needs later in life before she retired early. She wanted to help my husband look after me after my diagnosis of MS.

She told me that a college assignment she once had was to knit a pair of gloves. She and her classmates suspected that the teacher had her favourites so they decided to repeatedly submit the same pair of gloves as they didn’t have to be all handed in at the same time. They all got different grades. She was right. She hated injustice. She told me that when she left college she sprayed FUCK YOU in weed killer on the grass bank facing the main building. I hope that was true and knowing Mum it probably was!

She loved Science fiction and read Asimov when it wasn’t cool and she went on to introduce me to Star Trek, Dune and Star Wars. I remember queuing in the pouring rain in Ambleside in the Lake District with her to watch The Empire Strikes back only to be turned away because the tiny cinema was full. We were devastated although still got to see it when we got home to Suffolk. I still remember both of us nearly in tears and so began my life long love of Star Wars which my children and thankfully my husband share with me.

She loved my husband and affectionately called him Big Chick much to his embarrassment and amusement. She often did it absentmindedly in restaurants for some reason and I remember when she died Ben saying broken heartedly between sobs “who’s going to say Big Chick pass the salt?”.

She made everything fun, especially Christmas. I remember feeling like all the fun had been sucked out of it as I realised that it was her that made Christmas fun. This was a few weeks after her death on the 7th of December 2006, barely 2 months after mine and Ben’s wedding. It took a long time and two children to help get that back. She always spent weeks choosing exactly the right gifts for everyone and she got it pretty perfect every time.

When I was in my twenties and had come home for Christmas one year, I woke up abruptly at 5am with her jumping on my bed. I asked her what the hell she was doing to which she replied “Revenge darling, revenge! For all the years you woke me on Christmas Day far too early!” whilst giggling.

So if you wonder where my refusal to grow old gracefully and my slightly strange sense of humour come from, as well as my love of gin, Sci Fi and the generally bizarre now you know….

She loved Monty Python, Spike Milligan, Billy Connolly and Only Fools and Horses. She loved my Dad so much she once said looking at him was like looking at a beautiful painting she could never tire of and she was fiercely but silently jealous of any woman who so much as glanced his way. She loved my sister and I more than her own life. She found life painful, rarely watched the news because she couldn’t bear the hatred and the hurt in the world. She was kind and gentle and couldn’t deal with conflict or disputes. She just wanted everyone to be happy.

She made us happy and for the time I got to spend with her I will forever be grateful. I wish that I had told her more often just how incredibly special she was and how I could never repay all the things that she gave up and did for me. I wish I could have said goodbye. I hope she knew just how much we loved her and still do.

I will try to remember her every day and for the memories to hurt less and make me smile more.

There is so much more but then isn’t that exactly how it should be?

Not how she died but how she lived. With joy and laughter and love and kindness.

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