On August 14th, 2009, my lovely Mum, Connie, passed away. 5 years on and I still catch myself thinking ‘I must phone Mum and tell her that’. It might be a plant that has just come into bloom, the latest ‘personal best’ by hubby on a cycling time trial, a new craft that I am learning, something funny that happened at the knitting group, the latest gossip from the village or just to have a chat and put the world to rights.
Mum was a great gardener and passed on that love (and her knowledge) to me. We spent many a happy hour visiting gardens or garden centres, we attended gardening lectures, and helped each other out in our own gardens. Once, I mentioned in passing that our rockery was a bit dull, and on her next visit she thought nothing of heaving the rockery stones around and re-modelling it. Not bad for a lady in her 70s. We suggested that she could go on to re-point the chimney which was another job on the ‘to do’ list which we hadn’t got around to, but to no avail. In our current house, the chimney needed re-pointing too…
She taught me how to sew and how to knit. She did the most amazing embroidery and was a dab hand at flower arranging – sadly, the latter skill did not rub off on me!
She lived 160 miles away, so I didn’t see her every day. But each summer she would come down on the train to stay for a week or more, first in Harrow, then Hitchin, and finally Bedfordshire. We would visit gardens, go shopping (usually for plants), eat out, drink far too much wine, or just chill out. And she always did my ironing. I think she knew that I saved it up just before she visited! She liked a cheeky little Pastis before dinner (and after dinner too) – a drink that is now known to us as a ‘Connie’.
Her last visit in 2009 was out of season – she came down for a week in January, and I’m so grateful that she did. She was not well, so we did not do as much as usual. However, I had just started to knit again after many years away from it, so we visited my local wool shop and bought wool and patterns and spent most of the week knitting together.
That summer, she was too ill to travel, so I visited her. Initially, it was going to be for a week or so, like when she visited me, just in a different location. Little did I know that I would be with her for 4 weeks. The last 4 weeks of her life. The hardest 4 weeks of my life. We laughed, we cried, we knitted, and we had more than one cheeky little Pastis.
Thank you, Mum, for all you did for me and all you taught me.
Tonight, we will have a ‘Connie’ and raise a glass to my Mum and remember the good times … and look at the chimney that still needs re-pointing.
I’ll sign off with an old photo of my Mum with her Mum. Mum often told me that she missed her Mum and wished she could speak to her again.
If your Mum is still with you, give her a call. I wish I could call mine.