The Sisterhood of the Travelling Jacket: Andrea

Monday 22 September 2014
The philosophy of life - speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil

Photography: Marlene 

Dear Mum,
This year on August 7th marked 13 years since your passing. 13 years since I held your hand, 13 years since I heard you call my name and 13 years since I looked into your beautiful blue eyes. Not a day passes where I don't think of you. You were an amazing woman and mother. I was so blessed that for 27 years, you were mine. In that time, I got to know you as a woman and not just as my mum. We did so much together in the time we had and for that I am glad. Concerts, holidays, day trips and special mum and daughter time. Memories which I hold dear to my heart. We laughed, argued, cried and lived but always loved. 
You had an amazing sense of humour and taught me not to be so serious and to laugh at myself! You were always so positive even though life was not always easy, it never got you down. Now time has passed, I often remember you with a smile and not with a tear. I also remember most of the advice you gave me during the time we had together but one conversation stuck in my memory more then most.
When I was 16, we had 'the talk'. You advised me not to have children until later in life. You were frank in your speech when you told me that if you could turn back time, you wouldn't have had my brother and I so early. You told me to travel, have a good career and do all the things that you didn’t get to do. Later in life after raising us, you built yourself back up and had a good job. You started to travel and even drove a sporty little number when you devastatingly passed away at just 52.  
As you know, I heeded your advice. I had a fantastic job, travelled the world and at age 24,  I purchased my first property. I can remember the excitement of collecting the keys and going shopping with you for my first home. Whenever I travelled, you never once lectured me on staying safe or what to do or what not to because you trusted that you had brought me up well enough to just know. When I announced my plans, you would just say “go get me your bags and I’ll pack for you.” I miss that as you were an expert packer but you will be glad to know that I still roll and not fold.
I can see and appreciate now, Mum that for those earlier years you lived your life through me and as long as I was doing all of those amazing things, you were happy. Selfless. You were always completely selfless and giving. We were together when the consultant told you that your cancer was terminal. I’ll never forget how you turned to me and said that you were sorry for ruining my life by dying and that was the only time I saw you cry throughout your whole illness. You didn’t ruin my life, Mum. You gave me life and molded me expertly into the woman I am today. You were strong, brave and selfless right up till the end. I can only hope that I have become half the amazing woman and mother that you were.
They say that you shouldn’t regret anything in life and it’s a statement that just doesn’t sit true for me, for the biggest regret that I have in heeding your advice is that you never got to become a grandmother. You never got to meet your 2 beautiful grandchildren and they were robbed of having the world’s most amazing Nana.  I was to become a mother without having you there. When I gave birth, on both occasions, I took your photograph with me and whenever I felt like I couldn’t go on I looked you straight in the eye and could hear you telling me to get on with it. Just like you always did.
You did a grand job in advising me against motherhood until later life but now you’re not around, it makes it so much more difficult. I often think back to my childhood and I seriously don’t know how you did it all. I wish you were here to let me in on the secret. Had you been here, you would've told me that Weetabix dries to a concrete like substance when not immediately wiped up, that WWF style wrestling moves would be required when cutting a toddler’s toe nails and warned me to never, ever leave an unopened pot of Sudacreme laying around.
I also wish that you were here for me to apologise for being the world’s worst teenager at times and for turning your hair grey. To say sorry for all of the awful times when Bruv and I drove you insane as children. Those are the times that I can see and recognise only now as my children do it to me. I’m quite certain that you are sitting up there on your cloud laughing at the payback I am now receiving.
Becoming a mum is so rewarding and beautiful but it is also demanding and difficult but becoming a mother without having my own around makes it that much more harder, Mum. Life isn’t a bowl of cherries as you would say. On days when things get tough,  I soldier on and always will as after all.....I am your daughter and you’d set me a fantastic example and for that, I will always be grateful. 
Love as always,
(Andrea also blogs at In Mama's Wardrobe)
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  1. Thank you for everything Marlene! <3 xx

  2. You are so fortunate to have had such a wonderful mum. Your children will benefit from her wisdom. A lovely story. Xx

  3. What an amazing letter to your mum Andrea - she was clearly a kind and loving woman...just like you. So she must be so proud looking down on you and her two beautiful children. Xx

  4. A beautifully written letter Andrea, happy and sad all at the same time xx

  5. Thank you Andrea for gently reminding me how very precious the time we get to spend with our mums really is. I bet she is looking down and bursting with pride at you and your lovely kids xx

  6. So so lovely Andrea, your Mum sounds like an amazing woman and would be so proud of you and your beautiful children xx

  7. Is doesn't surprise me that your mum was an amazing woman Andrea, your kindness and humour always shine through and I'm sure your mum would be very proud to have a daughter like yourself and of course two gorgeous grandchildren.

  8. I feel so humble now - your mum clearly produced an amazing daughter and your children are lucky to have you x

  9. You had me at "Dear Mum". What a beautiful letter and so poignant. It really struck a note with me and made me realise how precious my mum is to me. Signing off now - to go and get a Kleenex.

  10. I've just commented on Andrea's blog. This is so beautiful that I was sobbing reading it. Such a wonderful photograph too. Lynne x

  11. Andrea, this is such a beautiful piece. Hats off to you for having the courage to be so open.

  12. So beautiful and touching, your letter. It must be the hardest thing in live to have to do without a mum or dad. I've always known that and can't think of that moment. So lucky though to have your beautiful children.

  13. Oh so beautiful Marlene! A wonderful tribute to your Mum! (and the photo is adorable!)
    Love this bit "When I was 16, we had 'the talk'. You advised me not to have children until later in life. You were frank in your speech when you told me that if you could turn back time, you wouldn't have had my brother and I so early. You told me to travel, have a good career and do all the things that you didn’t get to do. "
    I'm so sorry she's not around to see what an amazing person-Mum-photographer-friend you are and to see her grandkids.
    Having children early - think probably all our mothers were like that. My Mum thankfully had a second life after we left home and Dad and she travelled. It's hard to believe now we were all gone by the time she was 40, thats 12 years younger than I am now...
    Much love Marlene. beautiful post.

  14. Thank you for such a beautiful and poignant letter to your mother. I had to cry a little, of course , as I have lived similar things in my life and just looking at a pic f my mama gives me strength to move on. Hugs to you, freida



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