Tag Archives: #mum

More than another year goes by

Time is flying! It is already over a year since we finished our RAK project for mum’s 60th (I drafted this post around her birthday two months ago). Whilst we haven’t kept count of subsequent RAKs in these last months, we have most definitely made it a bigger part of our lives. They’ve been happening; we’ve seen the evidence on Facebook!

It seems surreal that it is over two years since this blog started: over two years since the cakes for the Holistic Centre, since “Balls for Dogs” on the beach. The project is also still waiting on the outcome of one of our RAKs. We hope to hear within the next six months.

Mum would’ve been 61 now. It’s hard to imagine how different our lives would’ve been had she been here. Most of the time it is becoming easier to accept that she isn’t here now (not that that makes it fair by any stretch!). Everything I’ve said about grief still stands but, if anything, losing her makes me want to live life to its fullest as you never know what’s around the corner. One thing I will say is that it is important for the grieving person to have their feelings acknowledged, even years later (so maybe ask them? Especially on birthdays, mother’s or father’s days and anniversaries – show them that you remember too!). It’s natural that she’s not at the forefront of people’s minds, but what’s a moment of reflection or a quick message to someone on a harder than normal day? I always endeavour to do this with friends and family who’ve lost loved ones. If you don’t, why don’t you? I promise it will not upset the person to have their loss acknowledged, even years later.

My mindset has changed over the last few years. I try to accept things and not wallow in self-pity as much as I used to. I figure that you can never try too hard to be a ‘better’ person. Everyone has times when they could do better but it’s important to recognise that and to work on self-improvement. And it is an effort! I’m always telling my students that you can’t sit back and expect good things to happen or for things to be easy, you have to make the effort. It’s the same for life in general. You get one shot at it. You may have had a crap time, rubbish GCSE results or whatever but what are you doing to change that? It is all in your control, even if it doesn’t feel like it. When things are going well but others are not supportive I often think of something mum taught me: not to let others bring you down. She often said “Rise above it”. Now, in my more well-read years, it reminds me of Maya Angelou. And I LOVE Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise

If you have wondered recently if it’s you, if you’ve observed people acting unkind towards you or just acted differently from how they used to be (as I have), keep reminding yourself that whatever issues people face, it is their issue. They own it, not me, not you. Strive to continue being YOU, to being the best version of you that you can. If that sits out of favour with some then you cannot help that. People drift in and out of our lives all the time for all sorts of reasons. We need not to pay attention to how this makes us feel but to focus on what matters. The less we care about the stuff we can’t change, the happier we will be.

I strongly believe that if people believed from within, if they trusted the person that they are is good enough (like she did), then they would be happier. They would subsequently treat others with kindness, they’d be respectful, they’d treat others the way they wish to be treated.

I saw this quote the other day and it made me think. Who was she when no one was watching? I often watched her when she didn’t think I was. I can honestly say that I only ever her saw her being kind and respectful to others. She did not ignore anyone. She helped. She saw the positive in any situation. She cared. She did not make anyone feel excluded, left out or left behind. A lot of people could learn lessons from that.

When no one is watching, we continue to do Random Acts of Kindness, big and small.

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Gifts and things 

If you know me (and actually, many of you now do!), you will know that I’m not a jewellery person. I wear the same jewellery all the time and only swap it on rare occasions. I never take off my wedding band and I only take off my other jewellery for swimming. On my right hand is a silver ring with a black stone. It was the last gift mum gave to me in person on the eve of Laura’s wedding. I had worn a ring for years that she had worn from age 15. It was a silver ring with a hematite stone that ‘clicked’ as it was a bit loose. I loved turning that ring around on my finger and ‘clicking’ the stone. 

A couple of months before she died I arrived at work one day and went to ‘click’ the stone (I am aware this sounds a bit odd haha!) and it was gone, just the silver remained. I was really upset. Anyway, the night before Laura’s wedding mum and Laura gave me a box with this ring in it and I’ve worn in ever since. 


The second thing I always wear is a silver necklace. It is my most treasured gift ever and the only gift I’ve cried at receiving. It was given to me by Laura on the eve of my own wedding and on mum’s birthday two years ago. I remember opening the box and seeing the word “mum”. On closer inspection I read the words “love mum X”. In her handwriting! Can you imagine the amazement I had to receive such a gift the day before I got married without her there?! Laura had thought so hard, had hunted a birthday card with the perfect words written in her handwriting and got it printed into silver. She also got me a beautiful vintage locket bracelet with her photo in that I wore around my wrist all day so she was ‘there’. What wonderful and thoughtful gifts!  

The last gift I gave to mum was meant to be her Christmas present. On arriving at the hospital, being told she only had days, I sent Daniel back to the car to retrieve it – a star to name. The last conversation I had with her was about what to name this star. Though she didn’t really talk, she was adamant it wouldn’t be called Lesley. We went with MaddisonLJ. Somewhere, visible from the Southern Hemisphere, shines MaddisonLJ. 

Close To You


Yesterday was World Blood Donor day (I happened to stumble upon this on Twitter). It just so happens that today, I was booked into to give blood.

Giving blood is an Act of Kindness that hundreds of people do every day. I have done it twice myself before aged 17/18 but it has been a long time since then. During the 14ish years since my last donation, a lot has changed.

All that time ago, she regularly donated blood. It was one of the things that she was passionate about. I remember her telling us she was proud of us for doing it and proud when we signed up to be on the Bone Marrow register.  So, when she was no longer able to donate blood after her illness, she was incredibly upset that she could not continue to help others. It was her turn for the help. During her treatment she had a few blood transfusions. They were never going to save her life, not in her case. But the difference in her after a transfusion was incredible. She went from breathless and pale to relatively normal-looking (and breathing!) straight away. It improved her quality of life.
I have always intended to get back into giving blood. I lapsed due to moving to university and then abroad and I never started again despite meaning to. I wanted to do it for her, to repay the blood she used and more. Maybe I will help someone like her? Maybe if I’d still been donating all those years ago she could have had my blood, the blood she created, the very same type. Tonight I did it.

Walking into the donation room was familiar; I had been in the church hall many times before, a lot of them with her. When I walked in and sat down the song on the radio was one by The Carpenters: Close to You.

Just like me, they long to be, 

Close to you.

And I felt it. I was doing something she was proud of, listening to a song that reminded me intensely of her.

So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair and starlight in your eyes of blue. 

A memory came to me whilst in the toilet, of all places. I had been there before, with her. Only not just her, she was helping a small child. They girl was perhaps five. We had been watching a pantomime there and the girl was desperate for the toilet but the people she was with would not accompany her. She took her. I remember it clearly because the girl was covered in severe eczema and was uncomfortable. I remembered watching the kindness she showed, the poor sweet girl’s silent gratitude as she helped her and took her back to her seat. A small and almost forgotten memory but another showing her character.

Just like me, they long to be, 

Close to you. 

As I lay there, needle in arm watching interestedly as my blood was collected, my progress measured by the blood being weighed, I thought about all the others in the room. There were loads of people. What was their motivation? Where had mine been for all these missed years? I saw some familiar faces, a father I recognised whose daughter had had leukaemia. Was she his motivation? Everyone has some inspiration, some motivation, a reason for being there. I had mine. This project spurred me into action but I wish I had gone back sooner.

It was painless and easy and I’m already booked in again for next time. If you’re reading this and you’ve lapsed from giving blood or have never given it then please let this spur you on. You never know who you might help. You may save a live, prolong a life or improve a life. What a gift!