I always described my mum to people who hadn’t met her, as a strong woman. She knew her own mind and had a straight talking, no-nonsense approach to life.
One of my earliest memories of her was when we were out shopping. There was a large group of people, lots of noise and in the middle were two older teenagers fighting. Actually one of them was being beaten up by the other. People were standing around saying ‘Stop it’, ‘Come on’, ‘Pack it in’ but doing nothing to help. My mum barged through the crowd, separated the lads and flung the bully down the road giving him what for. She was like something out of a TV cop show – I’d never seen anything like it in real life and I was so impressed.
But that’s what mum was like: she wouldn’t just stand by and let things happen like that.
I was a quiet child and quite shy. So shy in fact I used to hide at my own birthday parties or when relatives came to visit. My mum never made a fuss or made me feel bad about it. She just let me get on with it and was there when I needed a hug. I remember at primary school I had to be in the school play, and even worse I had to stand next to two girls. I was so worried and had sleepless nights, so my mum went to see the teacher and the next thing was I didn’t have to be in the play anymore. I was the only kid who didn’t have to perform. I was so thankful to her for that.
She would always be there for us and help the family but she also helped others too. Where we grew up there were a lot of poor kids and my mum used to give them money to do errands so they could buy sweets. We didn’t have a lot but she even gave clothes to other kids whose families had very little.
She loved to laugh and would always take the mickey out of our poor dad, who always seemed to have bad luck – whether that was being the only one whose meal never arrived when we ate out, or his terrible attempts at DIY. Once she started, her big belly laugh was so infectious you couldn’t help but end up laughing too, usually with tears in your eyes.
I also want to thank mum for putting me on my career path to becoming a graphic designer. When I was about 8 or 9 she used to run a local bingo club and as I was good at drawing, she asked me to do posters promoting it for her. She paid me 50p each week for doing them and I thought it was brilliant that I could get paid for doing something I enjoyed. She and my dad supported me through school, college and then to university. And it’s because of those posters and my parents’ help that I’ve now been running my own design company for over 20 years.
It’s hard to talk about mum and not mention smoking. She loved it. She was militant about it and made me smile with the things she got up to. I remember her once smoking a cigarette while happily cycling on an exercise bike in our front room. And then there was the sign she had on her front door to her flat which read: ‘A smoker lives here. If you don’t like it, don’t come in’. More recently she got into trouble in hospital for lighting up on the ward and setting the alarms off. It was hard not to love her ‘Devil may care’ attitude.
I hope that the afterlife has plenty of King Size in stock, otherwise there will be big trouble.
Life won’t be the same without her and I’ll miss her dearly. Love you mum.