Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year Memories

New Year's Eve is often a time of reflection. Looking back on the previous twelve months and also looking forward to the next calender year. For me though, my thoughts always take me back further than the immediate past. New Year's Eve is a significant date to me and I always think of one certain person on this date.

Nickie at Typecast spent Boxing Day reminiscing about 1985. I loved reading her tweets as she watched the Christmas Top of the Pops from that year. Her teenage tweets brought back many happy memories. But the last day of that year was one I'll never forget.

Twenty five year s ago today, my mum went into hospital. She had been suffering for a few weeks but was determined to see Christmas with her family. She did more than that. She made sure that Father Christmas visited and bought everything that my brother and I had asked for. There were a few extras in there too. I still have the Liverpool FC duvet cover that I got that Christmas.

I hadn't really noticed the pain that she was obviously in. I suppose she had done her best to keep it from us. But eventually the swelling round her stomach became obvious to even the most naive of fifteen year olds. On Christmas Day we were due to go to her brothers to celebrate the festivities and she was determined to go. We had managed to book a mini coach to take all the family (my grandad had died in the October of '85, but my grandma, Three sets of Uncles, Aunties and Cousins, as well as our little unit) to the party. My mum had borrowed a maternity dress from a neighbour who had given birth the week before Christmas. She also had to have a two seater on the mini coach to herself so that she wasn't in any discomfort.

Christmas passed very successfully and all was good as far as I knew.

New Years Eve arrived and I was told that my mum needed to go into hospital for some tests. Fine. Anything to stop her from being in pain I thought. I wasn't convinced that she needed to go in on New Year's Eve though. Couldn't it wait? What was the hurry. But in she went, armed with a bottle of something warming for midnight and some cake as well. She was on a ward with lots of old women. That's how it looked to me anyway. we spent an hour with her and then set off for our usual family gathering at another of my uncle's.

The next day (or next year depending on how you want to look at it) we visited my mum again and she told us of her night in the nurses station with one other patient, who had managed to stay awake till midnight, and the duty staff all partaking in a celebratory drink.

The next month or so has been virtually wiped from my memory. I do remember being told by my dad that my mum had cancer just before going to do my paper round one day and wandering the estate with tears in my eyes.

I also remember coming in from school one day and the house was full of family smiling and drinking the whisky that my dad kept for special occasions. Apparently there was an opportunity to treat my mum using chemotherapy once they had strengthened her enough.

Unfortunately, she never got strong enough. I was due to take my GCSEs in May and my maths teacher was keen for me to have additional, after school, maths lessons. On the 5th February I told him I would go home and ask if I could come back for the lesson. I also needed to get my paper round covered. I got home and asked if I could attend the lesson and my dad agreed. There seemed to be a few people in the house but this passed me by at the time. I then ran to the newsagents and asked my best mate to cover my round. I said that my mum wasn't too good. Something must have got into my subconscious to say that. But at the time I didn't know anything.

On my return from the extra maths, my dad took me and my brother to one side and explained that mum was very seriously ill and we should go in and see her. My brother had been reluctant to go in, because hospitals really did distress him, but he was persuaded to go in this night.

My mum was sedated. She didn't open her eyes for the period that we were there. But I know that as I held her hand, she gave it a little squeeze. My brother and I then went to stay at my Auntie's house. I don't know what the time was, but at some point in that night, my auntie woke us up and told us that our mum had passed away.

It's funny how snow seems to be a recurring theme with significant events in my life. It snowed on the night I met Mrs S. I made a snowman with mini me 1, in the grounds of the hospital where mini me 2 was being born (in March!!!!). It also snowed very heavily on the night my mum died. I remember being the first to trudge through the crisp white paths on my way to do my paper round the next morning. The shop wasn't that big, but as I walked through the door it felt like a chasm had opened up in front of me as my best friend asked how my mum was. Having to say the words made it all so real.

I wrote this post in August to talk about how wonderful my dad coped with us after that day. I was watching Toast on BBC 1 last night and it brought back some bittersweet memories of my mum dying and adapting to a new lady in my dad's life. I'm lucky because my step mum is a diamond. We've had our differences, but I've a lot of love and respect for her.

Do I miss my mum? I do. But not in a morbid way. I am sad that she was never able to meet my wife or see my children. Mini me 1 has my mum's name as her middle name. And I am sad that there are so many memories we didn't get to make. I still haven't found a picture with just the two of us on.

But I've had a good life and having had a bit of crap thrown at me, but I think I've come out the other side in one piece and have moved on in life.

I got an "A" in my GCSE Maths by the way.

I would like to wish everyone who has read any of my posts this year, all they wish for themselves in 2011.


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