Yesterday was the eleventh anniversary of your untimely death at 58.
I can still remember when the call came through at exactly 4pm in the afternoon, my brother distraught, and I just knew something terrible had happened as I knew it before when we had our last conversation the night before.
Ours had not always been an easy relationship, we are similar in character and this often led to clashes, both of us battling to be right, not that logic played a part in our various battles.
You had been so brave during our upbringing when our father your husband left us never to return, I watched you turn from a young woman to middle age overnight such was the burden of your responsibilities of being a single mother.
I didn’t resent that you were single and struggling I could see that very clearly, nor did I resent that you relied on me a great deal to help out not only in the home but with my brother, I liked the responsibility it made me feel grown up, and your compliment that had I been a different kind of child our survival would have been even more challenging.
What I did resent was the time it took away from me and you and I think that’s where I decided to go it alone in life, it’s silly but at the time I thought you should have been my companion, but really I was in some ways your equal, at the same time treated like the child I was, which only served to make me put more emotional distance between us.
You were strict and exacting and could be harshly critical of me and often voiced your opinions as regards what you saw as my failings, which at times seem to grown exponentially the more pressured your life became, which in turn made me more distant and angry, you see I was just a kid and couldn’t understand the depths of where your anger came from.
Just so you understand you were never negative about our father your husband, which I’m thankful for, however it made you more determined to succeed and we just pulled along in your pursuit of that, you never wavered you were always strong and deep down I have always tried to emulate that, though I will say you nurtured those deep-seated thoughts by your daily mantra of never relying on anybody, even though you relied heavily on me.
It was difficult to watch at times when you harped on about being a single mother, this was your shield, your banner to the world “look at me I can do this” and you pushed us at school and in every area where we could gain knowledge and use our chances to gain the opportunities as and when they came up, it was a tough act to follow and there were times when I felt I was drowning in your achievements feeling that not only should they be mine but to do better.
As I got to my teens and beyond our battles were more to do with our stubbornness, you see you taught me well and the single mindedness you instilled in me came back to haunt you, times were better for us and now you wanted the control back of your family, you wanted to be involved, to advise, but I was having none of it, the dye had been cast, I was on my own now.
As time moved on we didn’t exactly become estranged we were great friends over the phone, but in person the clashes grew and we both said some horrible things to each other and I regret that now, and know you did too and tried to reach out to me many times over the years, you see you had learned too, and we couldn’t quite bridge the gap.
When you died the soul crushing grief brought me to the edge of an abyss that was so deep, I didn’t think I could do anything but fall in, but I pulled through barely, but weaker and really ready to fight another day as you would have done.
With writing this, it doesn’t mean I don’t have great memories and good times because we did, our annual holiday every year at the seaside, fantastic birthday’s and Christmases, we always had food to eat when often you didn’t have dinner, we were warm well clothed, well turned out, no mean feat for kids of single mothers back in the 70’s.
My reason for writing this was to tell you I failed miserably in life, not only a mental breakdown but lost my home and everything, every single memory gone, and I didn’t have anyone then to turn to, had you been alive I probably wouldn’t have come to you I would have been too ashamed to reveal what life had dealt me and that I was literally on the streets.
My fears are probably groundless, and I do you a great disservice here, but nevertheless they were real,and I was so scared, how could I come to you like that, how could I expect you to understand, of course you would be judgemental, mum I just couldn’t and wouldn’t face it.
So mum here I am a little over two years later, and I survived, and slowly recovering, to use the old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” which in a way is true, I was down, but got up and I’m standing straight with my head up, you taught me that, I’m not a failure, you taught me that too, yesterday I talked about second chances, and I sorely wish I had the chance to thank you ask your forgiveness, and tell you I love you.