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13 May, 2012

I’ve been thinking about this entry for the May Fiction Challenge since the start of the month and have half-planned a few ideas, but anything I write under the title “Mum” is always going to be at least 90% autobiography. So for one day only, here is my entry the May Non-Fiction Challenge.

These entries are intended to be short works so I will try to be brief, but how can you sum up a word so all-powerful, so all-important, wide-ranging, awe-inspiring, wonderful, irreplaceable as “Mum” in a few words? Next Sunday, my Mum would have been 76 years old. But she only lived to 53 before cancer took her away. It was both a long illness and a short illness – she was being treated for about six months until one Friday night she was taken hospital and we were told that there was nothing else they could do, and it would be a matter of days. Six more days as it turned out. The most horribly short time for us all to adjust and understand what was happening, but also a mercifully short time for the pain she was doubtlessly in as first her kidneys, then her stomach, lungs and heart, all now destroyed by the cancer, gave up.

Over the years I have more and more questions that I would love to ask her, and will never have the chance. I would honestly sacrifice whatever life I have left to spend just five minutes with her to find out the answers. Question number one, though, is one she will not be able to answer and I don’t know if anyone ever will: Did I inherit my mental and emotional issues from her? She spent a lot of her time deeply unhappy, and two years before she died, suffered a breakdown and spent a month in a psychiatric ward. I was in the house the night that she stopped being able to cope, and I remember the scream from her room, the exact moment that her emotional problems overcame her. I can still hear it now, and from 25 years in the future, I understand that the horror, fear and confusion that I felt at that moment can never compare to the horror, fear and confusion she must have been feeling.

I think about her every day, in some form or another, and miss her all the time. My main regret is that I never got to know her while I was an adult. I was 19 when she died, and was still negotiating my way through my teen years. Not rebelling, not being a difficult child, but not yet reaching the point where the parent/child relationship can become more a meeting of peers and mutual understanding. I know that she loved me and was proud of me. I knew she would have done anything and everything for me. She was, and always will be, my Mum.

  1. We probably do inherit some emotional and physical problems from our parents – and grandparents. I’ve some instabilities of my own that I’m sure I’ve inherited, but knowing it doesn’t really do much to lessen their impact.

    I’m sorry you lost your mother. Both my parents are now gone and my mother went in a similar way to yours with not very much ‘notice’ between the last hospital incarceration and her death. And it continues to hurt even though it was so long ago.

  2. This was deeply emotional for me to read. I don’t want to be the mom who leaves my daughter wondering. I never want her to think or dwell on my emotional issues. It has helped me focus on making sure I get the help I need. I think depression comes in slowly and imperceptible until one day you realize you can’t fight it and it has a blind hold on you. Thank you for sharing this!

    • I’m glad reading this has helped you as much as writing it helped me. My Mum would never have wanted to leave me wondering, and i doubt she realised that i would end up having issues anywhere similar to hers. I think youre right – although there may be flash points during a longterm depression, the development of it takes time.

  3. I’m writing this comment with tears streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing.

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