My mother passed away when I was just 27 years old, from complications after being stung by a bee, of which she was highly allergic. When I tell people that, they laugh but that time of my life is still stuck in my head as the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Mum was unable to do anything for herself and when she died, she was just 60.
Back in the 70s that was not that unusual and she was considered to have lived a long life, but now, at 63, I think to myself that I’m nowhere near finished living, and there’s so many things I wished I’d asked mum.
27 is young when I look back. Mum died a year after Dad and I had no siblings. What was I to do? I had to organise everything for them. I remember Mum saying on her death bed that at least I wouldn’t have to worry anymore about her once she was gone but I actually longed for a mother, and a father.
Here’s some things I wanted to ask my mum. Mum, if you’re listening, I think I found out the answers to some of them.
How do you know if you’ve been a good parent? I know you were but I sometimes feel as if I’ve failed my kids. They’re bright and happy and healthy but I wish I had some guidance. Maybe I’m doing better than I thought.
What is the secret to a happy life? I’ve been searching for years! At this point I think it’s the kids that make me happy, and working. But you were always such a soulful person who found light in dark places. How did you get yourself through tough times?
Would you have done anything differently? Would you have wanted to be a grandmother to my children who are now 26 and 28? I think you’d love them so dearly, it really is a shame them never had their Nan.
Were you proud of me? Did I ever let you down? I sometimes wish you were right here with me, hugging me and telling me everything will be OK. I have friends whose parents are 90, like you would’ve been, and I feel deeply sad. You had so much more to give, but was it better this way? Were you teaching me something by leaving me on my own?
And finally, where should I look for you? When you died, I saw a white cross above my clothes line. I felt sadness wash over me as I ran inside, just as the phone rang. I knew in that moment you’d left. Ever since I’ve searched for you in the sky or in butterflies. If you can read my thoughts, please send me a sign.
And if you have one question for me, I think you’d ask, “do you miss me?” and the answer is, every day. I wish I appreciated you more when you were here but know that you are never forgotten.