Today, in the UK at least, it is Mother’s Day. Mothering Sunday. It happens every year, and will continue to happen for every year.
This is why I wish it didn’t.
Every year, we are encouraged to pay thanks to our mother, who brought us into this world, raised us, showed us right from wrong and then let us out into the big bad world. The run up is full of M&S fancy foodstuffs, chocolate adverts, crappy compilation cd adverts, the odd bit of Take That, and the latest film suitable for mummies to get teary-eyed over. The day itself is full of blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates about my friends going to meet up with extended female family members to have a sit down meal.
My mother was called Anne. She was born in 1954. She got married at 17, already three months pregnant with my eldest brother. I fear it was shotgun, with my granddad being a farmer, he probably had a gun he could point. In total, she had three children, two boys and a girl.
When I was about 7, she had skin cancer. I didn’t know what this meant, but I knew it was something to do with the mole on her leg. It had always been in there, it was always pretty big, but one day we just started going to the hospital, and it wasn’t ME they were testing. I don’t really remember much of it. She got better, and life carried on.
Then when I got to about 11, it came back. This time, I understood. Since the last time, I had read more books, and watched more news. I read encyclopedias for fun when I was a child, as I was a little weird. I didn’t understand the pictures in the ‘sex’ section until I was about 13.
It all happened so suddenly. My brother died in July 1999, and then my uncle died shortly after. She was back to the hospital in the autumn. I thought it would be fine, she’d done it before. I remember her being in hospital on one of those morphine machines, where you press a button and a bit comes out of a massive tube machine.
Once, a nurse came round and brought some medical supplies. She had these MAHOOSIVE Tena Lady pads. The nurse told my dad to tell her they were sanitary towels. When she went, my dad showed them to her, and told her what the nurse had said. Mother cried.
It was my first year in secondary school. I had a lot to think about, making friends, new types of lessons, and my mother being ill at home. Run forward a few months, and I remember seeing her in hospital again. She hated tattoos, but now she had some herself. Those little blue dots for radiotherapy. I remember, because my dad whispered to me, very quietly, ‘Don’t tell her I bought you a mobile phone, I promised her I wouldn’t’.
A few days later, I heard my father on the phone to his brother. He said ‘she’s going to die’ and said something else. Something about not telling me. I just walked away.
My own father couldn’t tell me the truth. He still doesn’t know I overheard the conversation, or part of it anyway. I still haven’t forgiven him for this.
I think it was three days later, I woke up in the night. It wasn’t very late, but my mother was being sick in the bedroom. My father went to phone the doctor. When he came up the stairs, he said to my mother ‘If it comes out like baby sick, they’ll call an ambulance’. He ran back downstairs, and make another call. I fell back to sleep.
In the morning, I found out she had been taken to hospital in an ambulance. It didn’t wake me up, as the access to our house at the bottom of the cul-de-sac wasn’t easy, so all emercency vehicles park in the car park and people come down the path.
She was dead within a week. I found out in the morning. I got ready for school, and went. When I got there, my mother’s manager’s daughter, who was the same age as me, came up to me, crying. All I could think is ‘What the FUCK does this have to do with YOU? I’m not CRYING!’
She never sunbathed, but she did smoke. I am also a smoker. I used to blame my smoking on the fact that I missed her, even though I hated everything about it when she did it.
So please, when you’re going on about what a WONDERFUL DAY LOLZ you have had and OMG FLOWERS status updates are sent, take just one second to think of us. Those without mothers to thank.
I would however, like to thank all the other people’s parents who looked after me whilst my father was forging a new relationship and working alternate night shifts to pay the mortgage on our house.
Specifically Dotty and Su.