Its #internationalwomensday and I would like to dedicate this day, to all of you amazing women out there (ok guys, you get your own special day in November!).
I want to give a shout out to all the single women out there who bring up their children without another person to support them, without family around, without anyone to help them with the decisions and have to finance the family alone. You are bloody amazing!
Most especially, I want to shout up to heaven and tell my own Mum, just how amazing she was, I certainly did while she was alive, but I want to shout it from the rooftops on a day we celebrate women and progress!
When she first started struggling during her first marriage, at a very young age, and with a young child (now this part is her story, but I can assure it was not good), bearing in mind, at that time people were less understanding, and she lost hope on many an occasion. So, during this difficult stage, she found Dad, he saved her at that time of her life. But the upset of a broken marriage still lived with Mum, she was a staunchly loyal person, and did not plan on this happening, she had not planned on her first marriage failing.
So, despite all that she went through, she eventually got her hope and pride back again. She made a beautiful home for us all in Gosport, with Dad, she made a lot of beautiful clothes for us all to wear, she was a great cook, she was so talented, so clever, so creative and so busy doing things to show everyone, that despite having a lot of children, by then there were six of us, all living in a three bed-roomed house, she wanted to prove that she could have that ‘Walton’ type family, and you know what, for some time she did, because I can still feel that magic that she created. She was the mother, the glamorous wife, the doting daughter, the housekeeper, the hub that we all needed, she was the place where we all felt warm, loved and safe.
My Mum had a lot to cope with, in her life, she was a romantic and had so many hopes and dreams. Her second marriage to my Dad, was initially, and for many years a very happy marriage, they had a brand-new home, raising a family together, picnics, family gatherings, amazing Christmas’s, lots of social events. However, in later life, although they were not divorced, but through circumstances, that I don’t always want to understand or talk about, she was on her own for far too long, and she lost so much confidence.
Her struggles began all too soon. For quite some time her Mother lived with with us all, and then she had to place her own mother, so reluctantly, into a care home, Her six children had gradually all left home, her husband, my Dad, worked away for most of the time, and sadly and worryingly, she became increasingly overweight. I believe, her weight increase, was yes, partly due to genetics, but, mostly due to the loneliness, and the trauma that she had suffered throughout her life.
Then things really started to change, as we got older and moved up North, when she was left at home with the five of us children, as our older brother had since left home. She often struggled feeding us as he would have wanted, food had to be carefully planned, clothing us, spending time with us, but she kept on loving us. Finding a way, to make sure that we kept a roof over our heads and food to eat, was not always easy. We were the children who had free school dinners, we had free school uniform, we had the stuff that we didn’t want to talk to our friends about.
I look back now and I am so proud of her, and I am so proud of us all. Bearing in mind, that this was not how she had planned things to be, we were not supposed to struggle, this was not in her plan. I remember her going out many a night, working a late shift, leaving the older teens to look after us, she would return home so very tired, but still, she was up, bright as a button the next morning, singing her ‘happy morning’ song to get us all up, out of bed and ready for school.
She may have cried herself to sleep many a night, but she tried so hard to put on a brave front for us all, when she could.
Sadly, one night on her way home from work, she was attacked, just a few doors away from home, she thankfully fought the man off, without much physical harm to herself, but emotionally I know that it wasn’t easy for her after that. She still she kept on working late to help pay the bills, her courage was immense considering, what she was going through and the fact that she had five children at home to care for.
Some women on the outside, have the persona that everything is fine, but they feel so much more than they let on, they are brave women, and they face the world head on when they have to.
I know that my Mum loved being a Mum, she was not always perfect, neither were we, who is? But she loved us all soooo much, and she was the most loving lady. Oh, she could be complex at times, but this was without doubt, brought on by the insecurities that plagued her through circumstance.
She nearly lost Russell my youngest brother, when he was just 8 months old through meningitis, she knew there was something wrong, he was minutes away from dying, he survived thank goodness, but he was left with brain damage, which affected the left side of his body. She had to cope with bringing up a partially disabled son up, in a world that didn’t fully understand, or have the support that we have nowadays. She had to deal with the time that David, one of my younger brothers fell out of the upstairs window and fractured his skull at 4 years, she had to deal with me contracting meningitis at the age of 17 years, she then had to deal with, so sadly and so suddenly losing Russell, my youngest brother at just 39 years of age… Of course, she had so much more than this, to deal with in her life, worrying as a mother does, about all of her children, and their worries and life changing situations, but the loss of Russell, on top of what she was already dealing with, was devastating, of course everyone has a story, and this is just a part of my Mum’s story.
Dad eventually came home for good, he stopped working away from home, and thankfully, for peace of mind, he gave Mum some of the best years of her life. She really loved him being home again, they were the ‘cosy couple’, they were content in their home, oh yes of course, there was the odd moan or three, but they were doing cosy things. It was another good time for us children, to see them so content for a while, to see them doing things together again on a regular basis. However, so sadly my Mum’s health was seriously on the decline, so Dad, eventually became her carer, along with my sisters who lived close by.
Mum’s kidneys were failing because of her diabetes and her weight issues, she had to endure lots of tests and lots of dialysis, but she always faced her hospital trips bravely and with an amazing sense of fun and humor. She made friends, she took her books, writing and knitting along with her and knitted lots of colorful squares for the hospital, she even roped us girls into knitting some. She sat for hours having dialysis, this went on for about a year, in and out of hospital, it made her time with Dad and us, even more precious, and then out of the blue…. Cancer, from day one of her cancer diagnosis, to ten days later, she was gone forever….
Gone was that wonderful, classy woman who wore a flower in her hair, who sang like an angel, who made a beautiful home for us all, who always looked beautiful, who said beautiful things, who adored her family, who loved her husband, who loved creating until the end, whose smile I miss so much, whose stubbornness now makes me smile, whose love will last forever. She was so many things to us all and I know we all miss her every single day.
I wish that she knew what we know now. Life has changed so much and I do feel that now, in many respects, we are much better placed to get help and get more support, but, for my Mum, she lived in a different time. If she had been here today and had those same struggles, she may have found a reason not to lose herself at times, and I feel that she may still have been alive today, with better support and understanding.
We, as children, learn so much from our parents’, their knowledge, guidance and their mistakes. We also learn from what they have shown us, in a positive way, and this is what I carry with me every day, my Mum’s childlike and immensely sweet sense of positive and unwavering hope!
Women who fight their way through so much in life and still have time to tell others the things that they need to hear, are truly amazing.
Many of us, have easy lives and only have to worry about the normal things, but so many have to face so much more. So, here’s to you women, you rock, did anyone tell you that?
If I could give a trophy to one woman, just to one woman today, I would absolutely give it to my Mum….
Written By Mandy Dineley 2019