In 2011, March 17th/18th, during the night my personal life changed forever. My Mum, the most vibrant and influential person in my life suffered a major stroke that rendered her paralysed down her right side. In the space of a few short hours she went from being able to tell me off for being stubborn to not being able to move or speak at all. In the months/years that followed we worked together on her speech, I knew from the look in her eyes that she was understanding most of what was going on around her. We also had to face that it was unlikely that she would regain much movement.
I often teased her, when she couldn’t quite get out what she meant to say, ‘why didn’t you just say that?’ I would ask with a giggle. Her eyes would laugh, she would collect her thoughts and then once again chastise me in a way that only a mother can.
For the past four years I have been looking out for my Mum. This may be making sure there is fresh food on the table most nights, to running errands to dealing with other grown up stuff that adults have to. YET, even last night, when I was discussing something with her she provided me with the advice and support that again…only a mother can. Over the past 8 months I have once again made changes to my personal life which means I am with her most evening meal times, no longer do I sneak off for a cheeky beer or glass of fizz, I prefer to make sure she is OK and look after her the way she looked after me all these years. I am by no means a victim of circumstance, in some ways I am extremely fortunate. I have been able to have conversations with her that most kids wouldn’t have the chance to. Perhaps I know too much and on occasions I do put my fingers in my ears and do the ‘lallalalalalalala’ noises so as not to hear some stuff in more detail! These conversations are powerful, and they are a powerful reminder of how precious life is. She has taught me how to ‘live in the moment’ not ‘for the moment’ as I once used to. She has helped me discover my own natural talents, nurtured them and applauded when I succeeded. Once, when I was at University, I came home with a face like a slapped a**e, I felt miserable, the whole world was against me and I wanted some creature comforts. Me and my exaggerated ‘Kevin and Perry’ attitude stomped through the front door….I stopped in my tracks….. at the bottom of the stairs was a note, ‘Have you been a good girl?’ – I recognised the handwriting straight away. Of course I HADN’T been a good girl, that was what UNI was all about wasn’t it? Following up the stairs from the note was a miniature bottle of gin, a few stairs later, a bottle of tonic, followed in sequence by a Chocolate orange, some cigarettes, a lighter and more gin! I will NEVER forget this moment! In fact, it has stuck with me for years at how such a simple gesture really can change the way a person feels. I threw my arms around her with tears pouring down my face. My University ‘dilemma’ was insignificant and it faded away as I spent a couple of quality days with my parents, the two people who have always been my own personal cheerleaders.
One thing I truly understand is that life is too short to worry about the things you can’t change. When you are confronted with something, you have a choice how you deal with it, how you react to it and how it makes you feel. My Mum has shown me, over the past four years, where she remains extremely strong in character, that there is sooo much more to life than being able to rush around behaving like a bull in a china shop. I have been privileged to have a glance at what life looks like through her eyes and she has shown me that it really is possible to ‘live through my heart.’
I have no regrets about the changes I have made to my personal life with regards to my Mum and I am bursting with pride after being told that I am…..’My Mother’s Daughter…’