My mum was not an extraordinary or special woman. She was not supremely clever, or beautiful, or generous, or giving, or kind, or any of those things. She couldn’t act, or sing, or dance, or even really swim that well. But she was my mum.
In fact, she was scared of water, hated showering because it got on her face see. She had no boobs to speak of apart from when she was breast feeding me and my brother, and she claimed they were a nuisance. She didn’t wear a bra.
She had a twisted spine and a third shoulder blade bone in the centre of her chest, giving her a funny, hunched sort of appearance. But, at least as far as I knew, it didn’t bother her. She dated, got married, had children, was loved, beyond all measure.
She was the middle child, an older sister and a younger brother. When he got cancer she was secretly relived that her sister was a better marrow match to be a donor. But who wouldn’t be? She wasn’t supremely brave, she was human. Her Dad died, shortly before her wedding. The last time Coventry City Football Club won anything of note. Years ago. Before I was born. Shortly before she married me Dad. Her brother gave her away at the alter.
She always said she changed her name because “Anker” was shorter and easier to spell.
She was not what you’d call sympathetic. And i’m not either. It comes of being raised by a nurse and a man with no real concept of a normal pain threshold. I once went swimming with a broken arm for that reason. But I suppose I don’t respond right to pain either. I didn’t notice it had broken.
She would spit on hankies and dispense wet tissues for my cuts and scrapes, and when I got older and the cuts became deliberate, she was there too. She understood. She took me shopping for long sleeved teeshirts, bandaged my arms and then spread a rumour to my friends parents that I had eczema and needed wet bandaging, just like my little brother.
She made countless costumes, for fancy dress parties, the village carnival, world book day, halloween and sometimes just because I liked dressing up. She stood for hours in the rain whilst I learnt to ride (although so did my Dad too) and would always pick me up when I got homesick on sleepovers. Something i’ve still not quite outgrown.
She wasn’t perfect, she drank a bit too much, smoked like a chimney and had an appalling taste in books. She fell asleep during films. She convinced my Dad to name me after a character from a Danielle Steele novel.
With her last words she asked for her children, and then when she knew we were okay she became calm. Perhaps, somewhere, in the tiny spark that was still her, she knew it was okay to die if we were safe. Sometimes I wish we hadn’t been so that she might’ve held on a little longer, not left us. Not that she had a choice. Sudden brain haemorrhages don’t work like that, but I can imagine.
I’ve wished, so many times that I got up earlier that morning, that i’d spent more time with her, told her i’d loved her. If i’d only known. But you can’t know.
It doesn’t matter now. Time has passed, nearly 7 years. I don’t miss her every day, not now. Not because I don’t still love her and miss her with all my heart, but because i’m a big grown up girl with a life of my own. I’m moving on. It’s what she would have wanted. Instead I save it up, and sometimes, on special days. Days like today, I let myself hurt a little. Grieve a little. Miss my mummy and all that she stood for.
She wasn’t perfect, or cool, or super feminist (although she was a massive hippy with a CND badge, she voted Thatcher out of female solidarity and misplaced youth). She used to let me blame her when I didn’t want to do something, and would always side with me when it was right to do so. She was there for me. And I miss her.
She wasn’t special. She was just a mum. But she was my mum. And I loved her. And that’s really all that matters.