My mum, Kay, died on 15th July 2017.
Cancer finally got its way but not without a huge battle with the force that was my mum.
Until now I haven’t written much about her, since her death. The grief is still pretty raw and as I write this, a lump hardens in my throat.
I miss her beyond comprehension.
In these times when I feel like I want to fall to the ground and sob, I remember that I am the daughter of a woman who was a fighter.
My mum taught me how to overcome adversity, tell the badness in life to go shove it, and make no apologies for who you are.
Facing a Challenge for Mum
Inspired by Mum, I’ve decided to run a 7k in her memory, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, on 29th April 2018.
I will be raising money for Sobell House Hospice In Oxford, that cared for Mum from terminal diagnosis to her final breath. They have also supported my family.
I’m a slow runner. I’ve never done a 7k but my mum’s wrestle with cancer taught me that I can do this.
It won’t be easy but with the support of donations and encouragement, I will keep training.
If you are able to sponsor me, no matter what amount, I would be incredibly grateful. You can do so on my Just Giving Page: Lisa’s Donation Page for Running 7k
Regardless of the money thing, I hope this post inspires you to show some love to your mum if you still have her.
If not, I hope it helps you to remember her and how she still remains with you.
My Mum’s Life Lessons and How They Still Inspire Me
Take me as you find me
This was something Mum wasn’t afraid to say to people as soon as she met them.
I would cringe every time she said it to a boyfriend. I always warned them in advance that she might come across as a bit scary.
When I was younger, I didn’t like it. As I got older, I realised it’s actually a redeeming quality.
Why should we apologise for who we are?
Why can’t we be who we truly are?
Why can’t people accept us as we are?
I don’t know about you but I’ve spent far too long trying to fit moulds I couldn’t squish into.
I’ve modified my personality to suit friends and boyfriends. I never felt authentic when I did.
It was only when I met the man who would become my husband that I started to see that Mum was right.
When they met, Mum said this line to him. He told her she should accept him as he was too. They both embarked upon inappropriate behaviour and I pretended to be annoyed when secretly I loved that they had clicked.
Know your fear and face it
When my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, we all disintegrated.
Cancer is incredibly common but none of us expect it to touch our lives.
The day I was told she had cancer I thought instantly she would soon die. I forgot who I was dealing with.
It’s fair to say that Mum had times when she was scared. Cancer is a frightening thing. She acknowledged that fear. We talked about it and for the first time I really got to know my mum.
My mum didn’t give much away. She could sometimes come across as aloof. You needed to chip away a little to get to her soft centre. When you did, she was loyal to you.
Laying on her bed, when she knew she had weeks left, and hearing her talk of her fear of dying, was humbling. I hadn’t lain next to my mum like that since I was a child.
We lounged in our PJs and discussed how death might be. We voiced our fears of what happens after death. It will be one of my fondest memories for the rest of my life.
Given the subject matter, that probably sounds odd. It was because we drew together despite our fears that I will never forget it.
If you’ve had chemotherapy you’ll know what a toll it takes on your body and mind.
Witnessing my mum vomiting, losing her hair, weakening, and a whole other host of symptoms, was tough but it was nothing compared to what she endured.
She went for those chemo sessions knowing what the side effects would be.
She kept on going with normal life as much as possible. She wanted to savour every moment of life that she had left.
Mum taught me to keep going even when it seems impossible.
I remember her every time I run and my body screams for me to stop.
I remember her every time I think my novel will never be finished.
I remember her every time I think of running this 7k and wonder if I’ll fail or be too slow.
Like Mum, I will keep going.
My mum was a generous woman.
While I would dither over whether I should really be spending money on that frivolous item, she’d be at the till buying it for me, despite my protests.
Mum took good care of herself. She always looked well-presented. She loved Marks and Spencer and even to this day I find it hard to go in there. I see her in the clothes department buying a new top.
Mum was a walking advert for M&S. She treated herself well by making herself feel good in her clothes.
When I sorted through her belongings after her death I saw all those lovely clothes and I wanted to high-five her for caring about herself.
I inhaled the perfume on her clothes and loved that she wanted the best for herself. It wasn’t indulgence. It was self-care.
I will always remember our shopping trips, meals out, and time away from it all together.
Mum taught me to value myself and occasionally give myself a little treat because I deserve it.
Stubbornness can be a strength
Stubbornness gets a bad press. Yes, it can be tough to deal with stubborn people. My mum certainly was one. I am too.
My poor dad threatened to leave home when I was going through my hormonal teen phase and fighting with my mum all the time. We made it out the other side fairly unscathed.
My mum’s stubbornness could be infuriating. Once she had an idea fixed in her head it was hard to make her budge. But that’s where I admire her. She had the courage of her convictions.
If she believed in something she did so 100%. Like Maggie Thatcher, that woman was not for turning.
She taught me to hold on to what you believe in. That’s why soon after she died I started writing my novel. I’m still astounded I managed to do so. Her death spurred me on. I wanted to do write to prove that I had the fight and the belief to do it.
That stubbornness, learnt from my mum, will see me through to doing this 7k. I will falter and doubt my ability. I’ve shed tears on runs feeling like I’m letting her down for not being string enough. My grief catches me unaware sometimes and I weep because I’m missing a fundamental part of me.
Stubbornness helps me to carry on. Without it, I feel like I would have given up on 15th July 2017.
Stubbornness helped me to write her eulogy and stand up to read it at her funeral. That was a special moment between Mum and me. I did it, reading to her coffin. It wasn’t for the mourners.
Every time I run, she runs alongside me – although in life her dodgy knee wouldn’t have allowed it.
I feel her feistiness inside me.
I hear her telling me to keep going.
She pushes me out the door when I’d rather stay in bed.
I am doing this for her.
Don’t leave it too long to tell someone you love them
We’re not a family that say ‘I love you’. We’re too British, working class, awkward, for that. No judgements. Many a family are like mine.
As an adult I felt I needed to be the one to say it to mum. It took courage. My family are a bunch of jokers. Sarcasm runs in all our blood.
I regret to say that it took my mum’s cancer diagnosis for me to have the strength to tell her that I loved her.
From that moment of knowing that she had cancer, we hugged more.
Three days before she died I went to the hospice because I needed to tell her that I loved her.
I whispered it in her ear. She didn’t reply. She was at the point where she fell into either sleep or moments where she wasn’t entirely conscious.
I cried all the way home. I thought I’d missed my last chance for her to know I loved her.
My mum taught me the next day never to doubt a person’s fighting spirit and their capacity to want you to know you are loved.
She was surrounded by family. I felt self-conscious saying it. I almost didn’t. Mum looked like she was asleep.
I couldn’t miss it. I told her I loved her loudly as I was leaving. With her eyes shut, she rasped that she loved me too.
I am crying as I write this because that was the last time she ever told me that.
Two days later she died.
Never stop telling your loved ones that you love them. Tomorrow might not come.
Help My Mum’s Legacy to Live On by Sponsoring Me
If you are able to donate towards my 7k, I would be so very grateful.
Each donation spurs me on, no matter the amount. Knowing that you thought of Mum and me is the main thing.
The page link, once again is: Lisa’s Donation Page for Running 7k
Over to You – Share What Your Mum Has Taught You
I’d love to hear the life lessons your mum has passed on to you.
Share yours :funny, sad, touching, practical…
Let’s celebrate our mums.