(Letter to my mum) Mum and I in 1981 on my 14th birthday … wearing velvet tracksuits
It’s been a while between letters. My last one back in 2012 has been lost forever to cyberspace, penned for a website that no longer exists. I could have written to you on my 50th but I self-indulgently instead chose to write to my 21-year-old self.
Today, though. Today seemed the right day to get the thoughts out of my head that have been swirling around this past 12 months. Today, I’m 51. Today, I’ve reached the age you were when you died suddenly.
I’m officially older than you ever got to be.
It’s a very weird feeling to process. What if this past year had been the last year of my life, like it had been yours? I can’t imagine NOT being here; not being with my husband, kids and friends. Not travelling to all the countries on my wish list. Not cherishing all the small and big moments that go to make up a full life.
But I suppose you never imagined that either. Life gave you no indication that those months would be your last. And that sucks big time. It sucks very much for you and Neville. It sucks very much for everything you have both missed out on.
I’m not kidding myself that if you had been around these past 22-plus years that things would have been Hallmark-worthy between us. Our relationship was rarely like that.
People would often say I am just like you. I think there are some traits, yes, but we’re very different on so many levels. And parenting is definitely one of those. I love the relationship I have with my kids – the bigs and the not-so-little one. I love that they love hanging out with us. It’s the relationship I think I always craved from you but didn’t know how to make that a reality.
If you were here, you’d probably think what I do is superficial and fluff but I love it. I do. I often share the story of you not letting me have a Barbie doll – and giving me ALL the trucks – as a child. Because. FEMINISM. It’s a funny and somewhat ironic anecdote because essentially what I do now is play dress-ups – and help other women to play dress ups – every day.
I guess this is my 2018 version of feminism. I want to help women of all ages feel confident in their own skin, to wear clothes that show the world the real person that they are and to use that confidence to show up and make a positive impact.
In your 51 years, no-one could say you didn’t make a positive impact on so many lives, particularly the rights and conditions for female teachers, which you fought for throughout your working life, but perhaps the greatest positive impact you’ve had on me has come in the years since your passing.
I now no longer take life for granted, for I know it can be taken away in a moment.