So what was my Mum like? She was so funny, she loved to make her children smile and laugh. As little ones we were often treated to her mimicking the fairground laughing policeman, or fooling us with the (same) April Fools joke each year ‘Look there’s a fiver on the floor’, which we fell for every time. (I have been known to use that one with my girls as well).
She was tall and beautiful, taller than my Dad, which she was over-conscious of, trying desperately to hide her height as much as possible when they were out together. It was a different generation and those things were somehow important even though Dad had obviously fallen in love with her as she was.
Life wasn’t always easy for her, she was one of nine children, her father was a farm labourer and there wasn’t much to go around. She told stories of walking along the railway lines when she was a little girl collecting discarded coal from the trains for the fire back home and how the train firemen would throw coal for them when they were spotted by the track.
She married during WWII and spent a number of years without Dad as he was serving in the war. During that time she spent some wonderful years working in the foundry helping the war effort as women did, forging lasting friendships and enjoying doing valuable work.
She had worked from the age of 14, working in service, which she did not enjoy. It must have been very tough to be seperated from family at that age and only being allowed home visits fortnightly.
But my memories of her are of a warm, kind woman who loved her children even if she didn’t like some of the things we said or did. And as for her grandchildren well they were the icing on the cake for her. On a weekend she was rarely, if ever, alone with visits from children and grandchildren who were always persuaded that they must have a ‘bite to eat’ with her.
She was a good cook and I tried to learn my cookery from her but could never get around not measuring items as she did. It was always well you put in flour….’err how much’…..a couple of eggs and a splash of milk when I wanted to know how to make yorkshire puds just like hers. All I can say is ‘Thank goodness for Delia’ as I never quite got that randomness sorted out.
She made the best meat (beef) pudding wrapped in old (clean) sheets that had long since served their initial purpose and the puddings were then boiled in the saucepan. She didn’t eat red meat so would make an onion pudding for herself.
One of her little things was to use up leftover pastry spread with jam and rolled up before baking in the oven. This is probably the one thing that I still do for my girls, who whilst in their 20s now, will still say ‘can you make Nanny’s jam roll’ whenever I make pastry.
Mum’s last year of her life was often spent in hospital and I still seethe about the way she was treated, much as I love the NHS and will fight for its continued existence, I feel there were aspects when Mum was badly let down.
I wasn’t there when she died. My decision. I couldn’t bear to see that strong, beautiful woman lose her battle with life. Having seen my Dad after he died I did not want to be left with a memory like that which stayed with me for many, many years. Many might find that unpalatable, but this was my decision, one which was partially influenced as I didn’t live nearby, was seperated and had young children to look after. It was my decision and the one I live with. I don’t regret it, I had seen her a few days before she died and told her how much I loved her and to know she knew that was important.
So my abiding memory of my lovely Mum is ….. well there are lots of them. All happy. Always with her smiling or laughing. And of a Mother’s love.