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January 31st

February 1, 2013

Yesterday, January 31st would have been my Mum’s birthday. She would have been 91 – I think. Mum was a bit sketchy about her year of birth, I don’t think it was a vanity thing, I think it was trying to mask how old she was when she had me. In her mid forties, she would still be considered pretty mature to be having a first child, back in the sixties it was very unusual.

I think about Mum a lot, but sadly I don’t really miss her. Don’t get me wrong, I have good memories, particularly from when I was little, but we never seemed to be comfortable with each other. Going home was always tempered with the certainty that I would have done something  to be disappointing. When I was younger this always struck me as very unfair. I had schoolfriends who did all sorts of things she would have disapproved of (obviously I couldn’t tell her about them) and I was incredibly well behaved in comparison – let’s be honest, I was very, very dull and well behaved in comparison to just about everybody I knew.

I know that my Mum was amazing. She was an intelligent woman who did her best to escape from her background, and ended up being sucked back by circumstance. She developed a career and travelled extensively, until marriage and motherhood spiralled into post natal depression and divorce and she ended up back at square one. The amazing Mum wasn’t really the one I saw.

I saw the frustrated one, trapped back with her parents, only this time with me in tow and despite several attempts to tunnel out, she was always pulled back again. I would have had to be a perfect daughter to compensate for all of that, and I so wasn’t.

One of the things I did right, though was to give her grandchildren. They were full of all the possibility that I had squandered. She adored Boy Wonder and insisted upon buying him a violin (I didn’t practise enough) and a telescope – she managed to teach me some of the constellations, but I could never remember as many as she could.

Mum was brave and independent, and I wish we could have established a better relationship, but it was lovely to see her with the Pictlets, I just wish they had known her for longer, they were really very little when she died. Rest in peace Mum.

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