Today is the 1st day of the 12th month in 2016. It is 24 days until Christmas. It is 55 days since my mam left us. It is also my mam’s birthday. She would have been 59. It is the 1st time in 28 years I have not given her a present.
And I wish I could. I’d love for nothing more than her to come bowling in, through my front door, with loads of bags, shouting ‘helloo’ until I met her for a kiss and a cuddle, I’d give her her present and she’d tell me she really wasn’t expecting anything, then we’d walk to somewhere nice, with food, lots of food and nice drink, and we’d talk, we’d talk about everything and giggle at each other’s ways. I’d love for nothing more. But I can’t.
Instead, I’m doing 2 things in its place (both stolen from friends):
- 28 Things My Mam Gave Me
I cannot give her a gift, but what I can do is take this time to remember, cherish and be thankful for everything she gave to me. 1 for every year we were together.
- Life – Of course, she carried me in her tummy and brought me into the world.
- A chance – My mam had a belief in me, in my ability and in my future before I did, before anybody did and in those early years of my life she did everything to make sure that whatever I was going to want as I grew up, that nothing would get in the way.
- Hope – In the darkest moments, in times of giving up, when head on with the most awful of people, mam could see light, a way of carrying on and somehow find the good in everyone (well most people – she wasn’t stupid!).
- Dreams – If you could think it, you could do it. And if you couldn’t do it right away, then you just hadn’t figured out your own way of doing it.
- A smile – People say I have the same mouth as my mam, which I don’t mind because she was always smiling. It was a smile that could bring warmth to any room and thinking of that makes me smile too.
- A sharp tongue – My mam has never been afraid to speak her mind. I am a little bit reserved in comparison, but in moments of anger or frustration I do find that when I open my mouth, the tones and words of her fall out.
- Appreciation for little moments – A cup of tea, a chat with a friend, flowers, a memory, a slice of cake, a rest when you weren’t expecting one and other such things, my mam showed me how to genuinely revel in them.
- Hugs – My mam was THE best hugger…I hope I’ve picked that up.
- Drive – She never stopped. Her head could be thinking one thing, whilst she spoke about another, her legs took her to another place and her hands made a bread and butter pudding somewhere in the middle. I don’t bake, but I think I get the juggling act of a life from her.
- Friendship – Mam thought of friends as family and gave them all she could.
- Solutions – ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ / ‘There’s no such word as ‘can’t’’
- Costumes – In every play I always had the best handmade costume, made especially for me.
- Stories – My head is, and will always be, crammed with stories of her that I will tell daily. From how she used to put all the shopping in that little front compartment of the trolley, to throwing gin on a grave, to swearing at vegetables and becoming an emergency nurse on a zimmer frame, days after her alien operation. I tell these with so much joy and when I see others smiling from them, it feels like she’s back for a moment.
- Pride – I think everybody knew how proud she was of me and my sister, and she always told us to never stop being ourselves, but I will never tire of being proud of her and who she was!
- Self-worth – My mam was quite humble in her ways but her decision to ‘not suffer fools gladly’ rubbed off; she would not be belittled, overlooked, patronised, lied to or made to feel less than she was. And she wouldn’t let it happen to me either.
- Generosity – Giving was one of her most prolific attributes. Gifts, time, compassion or a helping hand; if she had it to give she would…in abundance.
- Crac – There was never a quiet moment with my mam. She always had a story to tell; she was always available to have a natter, to have a moan down the phone to or to keep me company on the way to work.
- Home – That place you choose to run to when you’re scared or sad, happy or excited. A place you can call your own.
- Safety – I always had someone in my corner, who had my back, to fight along with me.
- Christmases – The best traditions created on 25th December; Christmas Eve pjs, places for presents, decorations, believing in Santa (even last year), amazing food and just a warm time full of family. She would always say the best Christmas present was getting us all under one roof.
- Birthdays – Mam used to get more excited about our birthdays than we did. She loved to take that day and just make sure that we knew how much she loved us (as if we ever had any doubt).
- ‘Saw it and thought of you’ gifts – Mam loved just to go for a wander around her favourite shops. If something caught her eye and reminded her of someone, she’d pick it up for them, just because she could. I have hundreds of those gifts.
- Food – Mam was a feeder. If she could centre any occasion around food, she would. I have now taken this on and believe every situation can be resolved or made better with food.
- Unconditional love – To those that knew her, this does not need elaborated on!
- Strength – I found one of her brooches last night, it read ‘Fear only makes the wolf look bigger’. My mam was a petite woman, but no wolf was ever bigger than her.
- Advice – When something wasn’t going quite right, mam was the first person I’d call. She would know just how to talk me through everything and all of her advice has stayed with me and will forever. I will still turn to her for advice.
- Magic – there is something so special that she gave to me and so many others that cannot be put into words…it’s just magic.
- So many other things – As I reajust to my new life, there are moments every day when I just think of something she gave me, something she shared with or taught to me. This list is endless and can never be finished.
- A Time of Giving
My mam’s love of giving to others and bringing little moments of joy to people is something that I am going to practice more. Rather than an advent calendar this year, I am going to give a gift to those around me, each day, in the name of Lorraine. This could be a ‘saw it and thought of you’ gift, a favour, making time for someone else, picking up someone’s coffee bill etc….and I cannot wait. #littlemomentsoflorraine on the run up to Christmas.
Happy birthday Mam x