My mum grew up in harder times. Everyone’s did, I guess. My mum was one of seven kids, but she was different to the others. Where her sisters were into horse riding and were more outgoing, my Mum was quieter, liked books and reading, more solitary activities. Her Dad left when she was young, but Mum never really talked about this, never complained or lamented the loss. It was just something that happened, then they got on with life. Mum loved writing as a young girl, and that lead her towards a career in admin – Mum did a course at secretarial college and started work, but that job was short lived. She met my Dad soon after that, just after he’d returned from Vietnam, then they had my brother. This was a natural progression – she left her job, took on the role of full-time Mum and continued on as she had to. Mum’s career took a backseat and all her ambitions and dreams transferred to us, me and my brother. A few years later she had my younger brother, then my sister, setting her up to spend the majority of her active years changing nappies, washing clothes, driving to school, driving to sports, picking us up from friends’ places and making us meals. Mum never complained, never lamented what her life had become. She just did it. That’s what you do.
As we grew up and started moving on, my Dad got sick. After serving in Vietnam he became a transit security officer, kicking drunks off trains and such. After a particularly violent incident Mum told him enough was enough and he became an ambulance officer. And now, many years later, too much exposure to the worst of life had taken it’s toll. He couldn’t sleep, he was prone to fits of rage. He’d hit the lowest of lows. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. This meant he couldn’t work, he’d be living on a pension for the rest of his life. And he’d need a carer. Mum took on this role, an extension, to some degree, of being a parent – as her kids grew up and moved on, Mum took on similar responsibilities for Dad. Mum never complained, just continued on. This was the hand she’d been dealt, this was how things were. You just get on with it.
My Mum is one of the most selfless, caring, understanding, tolerant and beautiful people you will ever meet. She rarely has a bad word to say about anyone (if she does, you must’ve really annoyed her) and she takes whetever life deals her and just gets on with it. No complaints. She has given her life to her family, and I have no doubt, she’d do exactly the same again in a heartbeat.
Mum loved writing. While she never had the opportunity to realise her dreams of becoming a writer, I did. And every time I have something published or I win an award – every time I have any sort of writing success, I feel like she has too. It’s not just me that’s succeeded, I carry her dreams with me – my achievements are hers. Mum followed the path that was set out for her based on her gender and ambition at the time, and she never had the chance to be all she might have wanted to be. But through me, with me, I hope I’ve been able to make her proud. And I hope I’ve been able to realise some of her ambitions, the dreams she might have had – those ones that took a backseat to her giving up everything for her family.
Love you Mum.