Back in 2014 when we were living in UK we had a bad few months.
On June 5th 2014 dad died sat in his armchair in the front room, while mum had a snooze in the bedroom. It was just 14 weeks and 4 days later that Chris called me and Buffy, while we were in Barcelona on holiday to tell us that mum too had now died. It was September 15th. Just 3 years ago but if feels so long ago now - But also it feels like yesterday.
We said it then, have said it many times since and I will repeat the exact same thing now: -
Mum died of a broken heart.
|Mum and dad 'Courting'.|
She missed dad and never really managed to cope without him. I wrote a little about dad earlier this year and promised I would do the same for mum around the anniversary of her death. This is it.
There are lots of words to describe our mum but the one I like most is feisty. The dictionary describes this word as ‘a person, (typically one who is relatively small or weak) but lively, determined, and courageous). I don’t think I would pick a better description of our old mum. Definitely small, appearing to be weak, she was definitely determined, courageous and extremely lively. We were never surprised when our 4ft 10inch mum would do something like grabbing one of us by the head and dragging us upstairs to dunk a head in the bath where dad would be relaxing because we had done something she didn’t like. This actually happened to one of the three of us when we were pretty much grown up adults.
|When Gareth joined the army|
|On Holiday in Southport maybe?|
Mum was ace though and wouldn’t take shit from anyone, especially us kids.
When mum and dad met all those years ago, she apparently didn’t get on too well with nan. Apparently, she may have had a ‘reputation’ as a youngster, but I suspect it’s just because everyone who knew her, knew not to mess with her. Mum and nan loved each other though and mum used to go to Bingo every Thursday with nan for years when we were growing up. Often coming home with boxes of crisps bought from the ladies who ran snack stall in the church hall.
|How hen nights have changed!|
|On Dorothy and Roberts farm in the Lake District with Gareth|
|I have no idea why - but definitely in Southport|
I think us boys got a lot of our independence from our mum. When we were kids and a lot of our friends would come home to their parents, our mum would work at our school. Both as a cleaner and as a dinner lady. So as quite small kids no older than 7 or 8, we would go around the corner to home for our dinner, while mum was working at the school. We would end up cooking and cleaning up after ourselves with no one else around to help whilst mum served dinner to our class mates.
|Snoozing one afternoon on holiday in our awesome old caravan|
|Working those boots!|
The one thing we didn’t get from our mum was driving skills. A story we heard often was when she was learning to drive how she drove through a flock of sheep somehow avoiding all of them, but never drove again until she got her trolley after dad died and proceeded to drive it through the garage wall.She did this with a huge smile on her face as she said dad would have killed her for doing so!!
|With Dorothy and Robert - friends for so many years.|
|Our old kitchen in Moss Vale Road|
|On the beach, probably near Skeg, with Nan and one of us kids|
Mum also spent a long summer looking after us when dad was ill with meningitis. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to have dad lying ill upstairs in bed for months, while keeping us kids occupied, fed and happy. To be honest we never suffered when dad was ill and nothing really changed for us, but in days when food delivery wasn’t a thing, she continued to work, shop, look after us and dad all at the same time. She must have been knackered, but it never really showed.
|The first day that mum and dad spent with Buffmeister|
|Mum asked if I would marry Buffy. I said yeah. They would both be so happy for all us 3 kids with our great wives (I include Emma in that - I cant wait till the wedding!)|
After Gareth and then I left home to join the army and Chris settled down in Manchester, mum and dad moved back to Skegness – where they felt really at home. They both loved their bungalow and with mums’ supervision and dads DIY skills, they got the conservatory built the garden sorted and the house decorated. Mum would have watched as dad did a lot of the work, but she was always there with a cup of tea, sandwiches and maybe a biscuit or two when he needed it.
|I'm so happy I can talk to Jon and Susan about mum and dad. They got on really well.|
Mum also liked to talk. She had a lot of old friends in town, who she could go ages without seeing and would pass them by in town before grabbing them and gossiping for ages about anything that came to mind. I do know from a lot of people who I spoke with after she died that she was incredibly proud of all 3 of us kids and would talk constantly about whatever any of us were doing.
She was also one for what I will call ‘undefined exaggeration.’ This is when one of us kids would tell her a story – let’s say I was going to visit a friend a few miles away from Manchester. Somehow, this would end up in a story where I would be living in London for a month or flying a plane to Italy. I have no idea how sometimes we would tell her one story and we would hear back something completely different from a friend or family member a few days later. She did love to chat though and would always keep up to date with Robert and Dorothy at the farm who they were friends with for probably over 30 years as well as Aunty Brenda or Tony and Joyce, one of her best and oldest friends who also lived in Skegness with Tony for a while. Mum and dad would drive a couple of hours every now and then just to meet up with Tony and Joyce and have a chat over a cup of tea and a sandwich. Real friends who we all love.
|Mums flight in a Helicopter - over Manchester a week before she died|
|This was such a happy day - we did so much and had a great time.|
After dad died, mum was visibly broken. She, put on a brave face though and the day after dad died, we went to visit Tony and Joyce and mum had a lovely time playing with one of their grand kids. We spent a lot of time with mum over the next 14 weeks. Sometimes visiting her in Skegness for the weekend and at others bringing her back to Manchester where she would come for a beer in the pub or watch TV with us at home. She would disappear for the day in her ‘trolley’, which she drove round like a mad woman to visit old friends and to see Brenda at home. There were times when mum seemed great – especially when she had Taz the dog stay with her for a week. But there were times too when we would catch her wiping a tear from her eye or just laying down for a sleep in the middle of the day.
|A photo from their wedding|
|Cutting a cake with Dot and Robert who they shared an anniversary with|
|When mum and dad came to visit me in Northern Ireland for a week|
She had a huge amount of help from friends and neighbours who would stop by every day to chat, see if she needed anything and just generally check to see if she was OK, but mum being mum would say everything was fine even if it wasn’t. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello and make sure she was OK.
|Another early holiday picture - Filey maybe?|
|Look at that hair! This is at Nans flat in Old Trafford. Early 70's|
I do genuinely think there were a few times when she could get dads death out of her mind and she had some fun. I remember her eating cockles on the seafront in Skeg, laughing that dad would never let her have any. She also enjoyed a great night out eating chocolate curry at a local Indian restaurant with me and Buffy.
|With Buffy having a chocolate curry|
Unfortunately, no matter what we did to help, mum would never get over losing dad. They were together over 50 years and no matter what life threw at them they remained solid and devoted to each other and to us kids. I know there were times when they argued but that was because they cared so much about us and each other.
|At home - how many pictures is that caravan in!!|
After dad died she tried to continue to be solid and stable, but we all knew she was suffering. The end came just 102 days after dad died and brought an end to her suffering. In one way, it seems that it was the best thing that could happen. She had been quite ill for a while and didn’t like having to carry an oxygen tank. So when she passed away it was a relief in some ways that no she was no longer in pain and no longer finding it hard to breathe.
|On the beach|
After she died we all gathered again in Skegness to say goodbye. It was a sad occasion but one where she was talked about fondly and with utmost respect. She was a tiny woman, but with a huge heart and presence. No one who has ever met her will forget her complete open honesty, her sly wit, her inner strength or the stories she would tell.
|Courting days again - A drink with Aunty Eleanor|
Its 3 years now since she died and I can honestly say that I still think about mum and dad all the time. I am extremely proud to call them my parents and of who they allowed me, Gareth and Chris to be. I know they are proud of us and our choices. They loved all 3 of us boys and Tracey, Emma and Buffy too. They would do anything for us or anyone they knew and I know as we continue through life we will always remember them and try to live up to their expectations.
Mum and dad. We will always miss you.