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Sunday, 11 March 2018

My Mother


My Mom was an only child. She would leave us notes when she went to work which always ended with ''AND DON'T FIGHT!!'' When we were kids she would often say ''You two don't realise how lucky you are''. Her parents split up when she was a baby - her Dad was a long distance lorry driver who died helping rescue kids from a bombed building in London - when My Nan tried to claim widows pension she was told 'his wife' had already claimed it. He had told his new wife my Nan was dead and her family were looking after his daughter .



My Moms only memories of her Dad were being lifted into a lorry cab, her parents rowing when he returned with her from 'sensible' shoe shopping sporting a pair of red tap shoes because ''she wanted them''.....oh and a bundle of letters in a shoebox from Winson Green Prison ( a driving offence) addressed to her mother and always sending his love to 'the baby'. Those tap shoes always remained a fond memory - she loved her Dad all her life and tracked down his family in later years .His sister opened her door and promptly burst into tears ''Oh My God !! Its like looking at Bob'' - Mom was ecstatic! ''He was a lovely man'' his sister told her,'' It was just families...''
My Dad said ''I kissed her then my world collapsed '' Life would never be the same for this hard headed Drummin' Man ....they started dating in February 1958 and were married in the August!!
'' I bought Betty a cocktail dress .I asked if she wanted a Wedding dress but she said she wanted something she could wear afterwards. She was convinced they wouldn't have her size and that I couldn't afford it .She was wrong. We had the same discussion when it came to her ring.''

                                                                      I still have that dress ......

How she loved Life! She had a lovely singing voice- she frequently sang with the band at the local pub - my Dad always said 'You should have been paid'' but Mom would say ''But I loved it!''
She loved dancing too- Mom was used to leading though (usually dancing with my aunts and her girlfriends) Dad wasn't a dancer but when they did she would lead and he would just go with it. Women would ask Dad to dance then be shocked he had no idea!
She once got me up for a quickstep- it was horrific, like being on a runaway train ''Just relax '' she said!
One day I happened to say I didn't particularly like Fred Astaire '' You might like Gene Kelly'' she said and so my adoration began.....
She was an extrovert in every way - she loved being noticed , not just singing either; she would shout across the road if she saw someone she knew'' Ooooooh Ooooohhh!!!'' '' Nooo Mom!'' '' I'm just saying Hello''
She loved people - she famously got on with Fab Hubby - both Libra - Never a bad word between them plus I would catch the odd look at each other if I had said or done something.
'' He's a lovely man, you couldn't have found anyone more suitable to put up with you'' ...the exact same thing was said to her by her Mother- only my Mother grinned !!
She read us 'Call of the Wild' complete with French Canadian accent. She demonstrated the walks of Bette Davis and Judy Garland. She loved telling us how they had seen The Beatles before they were top of the bill or how she had dragged Dad to see Judy Garland (''I don't want to see that washed up junkie!'') only for him to join the standing ovation with tears running down his face.
When the winter of 1982 coincided with the birth of Fab Daughter I wasn't expecting a visit ( it was 2 bus rides away and the snow was really bad) ''She's my first Granddaughter!!''
We played her up mentioning Betty as a possible name ''Oh God No!! I didn't want you to have it- your Dad snuck it in when he registered you !'' (Its my middle name)
She adored Fab Daughter ''Our Kelly'' ....One of the hardest times of my life was telling Fab Daughter about Moms illness and then passing( she was in Aberystwyth University at the time) each time she came back and each time the love they had for each other was evident.
My Mom had ill health intermittently through her later years I remember her Menopause vividly - it was grim-I'll spare you the details !
She also had Hypothyroidism and Diabetes not helped by her weight but Mom was Mom so no-one was going to tell her what to do !
She had a couple of heart attacks ( ''You don't feel it in your chest- mine was arms and back'') culminating in a double bypass
Mom to Dad (and anyone who would listen tbh):  ''The doctor said they had trouble breaking my chest bone as it was so strong! '' She was very proud about this! She would watch documentaries on heart surgery much to the amazement of my Dad.
High as a kite post surgery Mom: ''There's a Chinese man in full costume and he's looking for me ,so I'm hiding'' cue me pushing her into her chair as she gets up still attached to the IV.
Mom loved colours- the brighter the better! At home she had painted flowers and wizards and all manner of things on the blank walls of the living room and bedroom .When she had the bypass she insisted Dad paint over every one of them as she couldn't stand to look at them plus she said ''I know its not real but I think the colours attract that man'' .......The colours did return after time but it still makes me sad.
When Mom was diagnosed with Leukaemia, she smiled and thanked the Doctor. Dad broke down sobbing- she hugged him '' Its been a lovely life ,don't cry'' She was given the palliative options ''What's the point?'' So, the sorrow turned to planning which turned to laughter at times
''John, can you see that old man wearing a cap right bedside you?'' cue Fab Hubby looking worriedly to his side ''No Betty- I can't'' he said quietly ''That's cos he's not there you daft bugger!'' ....
''I want Liza to be singing Cabaret as everyone walks in'' ''You do know she sings 'she was the happiest corpse I'd ever seen'? ''  Moms wide-eyed look  ''And?''....
She was home but she wasn't there , something had changed. Within days she was readmitted, she started to disappear ''Oh this is lovely'' a big smile ''Where are you?'' another smile ''I'm on a beach ,the sun is lovely'' she's holding something ''This ice-cream is lovely'' ...........
                                           It was a week from the diagnosis to her passing.






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