And in the end it is not the years in your life that counts, it is the life in your years

My Mum

It is mid afternoon, January 6th 2008. I had sat down to watch Arsenal play in the FA Cup, and the game is 16 minutes old. The phone rings and my brother is on the phone. I know he would not call me during a game, he would possible be watching it as well. It is the phone call that I always knew would come, and never wanted to hear. I hear his voice, I get what he is saying, I remember not one word, my mum has passed away. My mum is dead.

I loved my mum, and I loved her because she was perfect. She was the world’s best mum, and as it turned out, she was also the world’s best granny, and woman. She was special, and she touched lives, she made a difference to people, she educated, she inspired, she consoled, she supported, my mum was a woman who did the right thing, the right way and at the right time.

I was not always a great son, and when I left home, for a number of silly reasons, I was not the sort of son that called all the time, wrote to her as often as I should, send flowers for her birthday or mother’s day, and now that is one of my few real regrets in my life. I got that way because of the difficulties I had when I first moved to London, I did not want her to know, and even when life did get better, I had become lazy, and used to not calling. She knew I loved her, but I always knew I should have done more and done it more often.

We would all like to think that we are our mother’s favourite, utopia is when not one child does not feel as such. But for me, I always felt her least favourite. My family had always called me the “mistake”, my next older brother was the “surprise”, but I, arriving when I did, was the mistake, and I felt that, I felt that from my mum. I was one birth too many. I know people will say I am just being silly, paranoid, soppy and talking total tosh, but one of the things in life, that is truly your own, are your feelings.
However taking aside that weird negative, in some ways, it was only connected to my mum, that I truly got an understanding of the word love, it was her that showed me what it was like to love even when sometimes you don’t like, she was the one to show me how to love even through pain.
On a lighter note, some of the things I will most  miss about my Mum are the things the rest of her world will know her best because. Her music, and her painting. My mum had a real full on passion for the West End shows, she also loved the old film musicals, and I grew up in a home of music. I have long standing memories of me singing (badly) songs from all the shows and this was due to my mum. I also loved to watch her paint, but the main thing that struck me then and remains with me to today was how hard she was on herself over her efforts. It is the mindset of never doing enough, never accepting that what you do is ever good enough, ever really great enough, and of course from that you develop the mindset of aspiration and really pushing yourself.  But equally I do wonder, sometimes, if this is also where my paranoia, and that feeling of never being quite good enough comes from.

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© 2008 Paul Kavanagh. All rights reserved.