On this day 13 years ago my mother, then aged 49, died after living with cancer for 10 years. I think about her very often, and not with sadness either. I'm lucky enough to have had years to know her, to be raised by her and my Dad in the knowledge that we were all completely loved and cared for.
Mammy (as we all called her) was amazing. It's hard, no impossible, to explain just what she meant to all of us who were close to her and loved her. She could crack you up with a little aside about someone or something, she was smart but I don't think she knew it, having been convinced by one too many nun of her academic inferiority at school. She was to me, utter safety and comfort. She believed in me and supported me, hassled and nagged when necessary. She wanted the best for us and though I know that in one thing I have let her down, I have turned away from what she cherished most in life after family, I think she'd still be proud of me now...though she'd despair of my much less stringent standards of housekeeping.
I miss her much, I miss her when there's a big event, a marriage, birth or death. Oh how she would have loved her grandchildren! When Lady was born, I was blown over by the knowledge that I would be as big a presence in the life of this child as my mother had been in mine. I miss her some days just out of the blue when something makes me remember her, a game show (she liked to see the prizes spread as fairly as possible rather than one winner taking it all) or an overblown song performance (she was irritated by singers throwing their arms around and going all theatrical) or when I catch myself parroting a saying of hers.
Some of my most prized possessions are our old family photos and the letters Mammy wrote to me when I was away at university. In these, she wrote as she spoke, same little phrases and colloquialisms (the very things the unenlightened nuns might have marked her down for). I can hear her voice clearly when I read them.
She didn't have long enough, and too much of her time was hard and involved awful suffering. But she was our Mum, the best you could have and an inspiration to me. I think I've perfected her hugs and kisses, and there's a fair number of choice chastisements that I'm passing on faithfully.