Goodbye to Love

I loved my mother fiercely.

This time of year looks just like her – the daffodils, the pale sunlight, the light blue sky that matched her eyes. My mother was to Spring as I am to Autumn. It’s her time, her birthday is April, she was always filled with hope, just like March-time air. She is everywhere.

I hate Mother’s Day, it mocks me. I don’t want cards, or flowers. I just want her. I want to ask her everything, about the French boy she didn’t marry, about her dreams, about that rash.

December 2014 marks 10 years since I heard her voice, her last words to me as fair as her still-beautiful face, ‘I love you. And I love your sister too’.

It wasn’t fair when I watched her die. Held her hand, as I never did in the playground, kept upright only by the strong arms of the theatre nurse.

At the end it was as the beginning. Denise, me, a hospital room. No longer a baby, yet I had never needed my mother as much as I did when she left me.

I will never get over her. I don’t want to. My mother was the love of my life.

I wrote the following to read aloud at my Mother’s funeral, my sister picked up whenever my voice broke or fell away, and I did the same for her. We learned how to look out for each other in a 1970s, brown brick crematorium, we’d had no need to before.

Everybody adored our mother – Denise was compassionate, calm, quiet and thoughtful and very very kind, she helped many people, did many good turns, and always had time to care. Many of my friends turned to Denise in their own times of need and she never refused, never judged. Mum’s quiet nature concealed an unshakable woman, She remained unflappable no matter what or whom I bought home at Christmas, what I’d had pierced and even when our Ford Cortina or maybe it was a Vauxhall Cavalier, burst into flames. We weren’t able to shock Denise, but she could certainly surprise us: kicking off her shoes to run (and win) the mothers’ race on sports day in her tights, her love of video games, her secret talent for ten pin bowling, often getting four or five strikes in a row, and whenever her inner rowdy drunk made a rare appearance.

Denise adored music, we laughed that her love of music gave my sister and I our names – Paula- after Paul McCartney and Karen- after Karen Carpenter. She shared this love of music with her husband, Chas, and she shared it with all of us at the many parties she gave, feeding everyone with songs and sausage rolls.

She was as an only child, but was bought up alongside her many cousins – Karen and I feel as though we have lots of honorary Aunties and Uncles because our mum loved her cousins as if they were her brothers and sisters. One of the happiest days of Denise’s life was the day she married Chas. She looked so beautiful, her hair decorated with roses. Denise and Chas had many plans for the future, places to visit and things to do, and grandchildren to love.

Despite being angry and bewildered and feeling cheated of a future with our mother, we will always treasure the happy memories:

Denise the Dinner lady at Sandridge School, and how miffed we were that we couldn’t get near her for all the other smitten children, we never held her hand in the playground because her hands were never free.

The massive brown handbag she carried on our childhood holidays, seemingly holding everything in the world, hankies, safety pins, cough sweets and love.

How happy she was at Marks and Spencer and how much fun she had with the friends she made there.

 And more recently the great pleasure she took in being ‘MarMar’ or more properly, Grandma.

So thank you, mum, for your kindness, your consideration, your enormous trust and bursting pride. Thank you for mopping up the tears, patching up the scratches and sitting beside me through all those ante natal classes.

Thank you for being you. We will miss you.

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