My mum has taught me many things. How to bake. How to sew. How to knit. How to make a mean gravy. How to stack a dishwasher…. the latter something I never quite grasped much to my mum’s annoyance. And as I ply my knowledge on a daily basis with the girls, I now pass on many of those skills. As I pour the cake-mix into the tin, two little voices squeal for me to leave some in, their hands already delving into the bowl, their faces smeared with chocolate goo. A flashback. My face. Mum smiling as she passes me the bowl and puts another cake in the oven.
As I make some Christmas presents, sewing on buttons, Daisy asks me to teach her and so I hand her the needle and guide her to push it in, and pull it through. A flashback. Mum making my dress for my first formal dance, allowing me to sew a few stitches.
As I fight the urge to delve under my duvet for a stolen moment despite the hungry mewls beside me from Ruby, two little heads peer round the bedroom door, and seeing me awake, leap onto the bed and snuggle beside me chirping and chattering under the duvet. A flashback. An uncountable number of mornings lying beside my mum, putting the world to rights. And not just as a child.
I am still shocked by what has happened. She lies downstairs, bedbound and trapped, while I wander round her bedroom upstairs, her things as she left them. Her clothes hang in the wardrobe, many bought with me on one of our outings. She will never wear them again. Her jewellery glistens in the drawer, each piece with a story. She will never wear them again. Her photos, her books, her momentoes of life scattered around the room like moments in time. She will never touch them again. And I realise what her most important lesson has been. None of those things mattered. She was always insecure about not finishing school or having a big career, or having any accomplishments. Yet, everyone who knows her, loves her. She invested her time on people. What she didn’t realise is that the things that make a person great is not a list of accomplishments or a long CV. At the end of the day, as the last few weeks have shown me, the only thing that matters, the only thing that determines greatness is the love you leave behind. And if the love we leave behind is the greatest accompishment of all….. then my mum is the most accomplished person I know. And I will do my best to pass on that lesson too….