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Sue & Mum.jpg

Sue and Mum

Well the objects I have are very precious, two rings . . . my  Mum’s original engagement ring and the eternity ring that  she wore every single day. And the reason I’ve chosen these,  and they’re so, so precious to me, is that when she was in bed  she gave them to me. So I didn’t sort of inherit them, she gave  them to me. There’s my sister and I, and she wanted us to have  her rings. My sister’s got a wedding ring and I’ve got these,  cos they fitted me and because I’ve got skinny fingers like my  Mum had, so they fit me. So I don’t wear this one every day  because it catches on things, but I wear that every single day.  And in fact, for Christmas my daughter gave me a, what do  you call, it’s a happy box. Except I can’t look at the happy box  without crying at the moment, cos it’s all loads and loads of  photos of my mum. And the very first photo I saw, I just noticed  immediately that she had this ring on, so I thought that  was lovely.

You can’t put a value on them, they’re so incredibly precious  to me. And when I think of her, the very first thing that goes  through my mind is how incredibly, incredibly loving she was.  And fierce, that’s what I’d call her. And I don’t mean at all that  she was a fierce lady, cos she was so soft, but really fierce love.  That’s what I mean.  

When people die you often think, "Oh I wish I’d said this to  them" but I honestly think, cos my sister and I were with her  constantly for the last two weeks . . . she had a very short illness  really; it was cancer. It was really, really aggressive. Was only  fourteen weeks from diagnosis to her death and she elected  for no treatment at all because it just prolonged the inevitable.  And why have this awful existence with chemotherapy and  going to the hospitals and everything when the outcome is  going to be the same? So we supported her in this definitely  and anyway yeah, I don’t feel that there’s something I would  want to say to her if I could, because I think I said it. I was so, I  felt so incredibly fortunate, and my sister did as well, because  we said everything. The last few days she didn’t speak,  although it was only the last couple of days actually, but we  were constantly talking to each other and I know she heard.  And so that’s lovely that I feel that we said, you know, what we  wanted to say. So that was really nice. I suppose there’s always  going to be a niggly feeling of guilt coming in for something  whenever anybody dies. I know there is always going to be.

I was talking to my son about it, because I was staying with my  son at the time of the diagnosis when we knew that she might  have only six months to live, in fact it was less than that, and  I was obviously absolutely distraught, as everyone was. And I  said to him how guilty I felt because I . . . you know when I was a  teenager, I was ‘orrible to her. But then, as he said, "Well that’s  what happens you know. You are a teenager, you’re horrible".  I remember once sitting in the car, sitting in the back of the car  . . . this is dreadful, and I told him about it, sitting in the back of  the car I just had this feeling of real incredibly intense dislike,  and I remember I just pulled her hair. And she said, "What did  you do that for?" And I said, "Oh sorry you had something in  your hair, my fingers got stuck." or something. Which always,  oOOoo its awful. Oh God, horrible, horrible. But yeah, hey I was  a teenager and I know without a shadow of a doubt I couldn’t  have loved her anymore. So that’s just by-the-by isn’t it?

What’s influenced my, the grieving process is, well maybe  it’s not influencing the grieving process, maybe it’s just  influencing my outlook on life, which I always had before, but  it’s just emphasised it now and that is, you live once and just  go for it. Just take every opportunity and just go for it. Do it.  Do it. Do it! I’m always telling my children, "Yeah go do it." They  think I’m bonkers . . . nah, they don’t. They don’t. So that, you  know, it’s just another thing that’s emphasised. As I said, I’ve  always felt like that anyway but it’s, you know, when something happens like this, it just emphasises it. 

Oh gosh, well, sooo many happy memories. You know when  I think of her, and I think this is a happy memory, and this  is a generic thing, I just always think of her as smiling . . .  and laughing. I mean I could go on, there are lots of specific  memories you know. We did this and we did this together but  I think what’s wonderful yeah, you just think of her as being  really soft and loving and smiling. So that makes me very  happy. And it makes me very happy as well that cos I’ve got  three kids, my sister’s got four kids and they’re all, we’re a  really, really close family even though they’re three hundred  miles away from me. And the Grandchildren are so supportive  of my Dad who is obviously you know, on his own now. And they  go round there and that’s lovely. And in fact, I was talking to  him this morning cos my daughter and her partner had gone  round and they’d spent a lovely evening just talking about  Nana all the time. So that makes me really happy as well.

And she was selfless. She really was selfless. Completely. I  mean, she used to irritate the pants off me because we were  like chalk and cheese, to quote a cliché, cos I used to turn her  hair white, well turn it whiter, it was white, with things that I  get up to. Cos I love the outdoors and do lots of canoeing and  dangling on the end of ropes in water and things and that’s  how we brought up our kids as well, right from when they were  little and she used to absolutely despair. In the end she said  I don’t want to know anything, I don’t want to know what you  do. Cos she’s a real, real home bird. She never liked going out  very much. She was totally dependant on my Dad. And you  know, if he didn’t do something, she’d sort of . . . for example  he used to take his camera and not take pictures and she used  to go on something chronic and I said to her, "Why don’t you  take pictures?" you know. But I think it’s a generational thing.  Because you know, you get married in the fifties and you’re sort  of not like that are you? But I think, if I wanna do something,  I’ll do it myself you know? But that’s just her. And fortunately,  because what I’ve been involved in these past years, I stopped  getting irritated and it made me laugh, cos I accept people are  totally different. So you know, I’m glad that didn’t. Cos it used  to be awful, it used to be a case of when we were going down to  see my mum, this was years and years ago again, my husband  always used to say to me, "Now you be nice!" Cos we were so  different. But . . . doesn’t matter does it? My husband and I are  so different in a lot of ways so. But it doesn’t matter if you’ve  got that connection there.

But what I will say is that she should be here. Because as I  said it’s only fourteen weeks from diagnosis to her death and  she should be here. I mean she was eighty one but she looked  seventy one, and you know she was really, really young. And  yeah, she should be here. She was a Great-Grandmother - one  of my sister’s children’s got a child. But none of my children  have a child, so I’m not a Grandma yet. You know my daughter  was saying she just thought Nana would always be there to  see her babies. But that’s what life is.

And it carried over to her Grandchildren as well; she was  always so interested, genuinely interested in what they were  doing. It’s funny though because I think, not so much my  sons, although my younger son maybe more, but my daughter  (cos I’ve got a son and daughter, and she really takes after  me and does completely wacky things) and my Mum used  to absolutely . . . shock horror and ah, I can hear now. My Dad  always said, "You’ve got to let them live their lives Joy." She was  called Joy. Well it was her middle name; she hated her first  name, so everyone knew her as Joy. Yeah so she was absolutely  horrified at some of the things they got up to. She used to say,  "Ooh she’s your daughter isn’t she? Oh dear." And she used to  despair of the clothes I wear. Because they’re not the sort of  things that she liked. My sister, who I absolutely adore - I told  you we’re a really, really close family - is so different. She’s very  conservative with a small ‘c’; very glamorous, wears designer  clothes. Well, pseudo-designer very, very, very, very, very, very,  very different to me, and that used to make my Mum smile.  But she was really funny because sometimes I used to turn up  there and must have dressed, oh it’s ridiculous, even now in  my ripe old age, I used to sometimes wear things that I knew  would shock her. And I used to turn up there and I could see  that she was determined not to say anything so she’d open  the door and sort of . . . and then I could see her and I thought,  oh bless her, that’s really lovely of her cos I know what she  was thinking but she was determined not to say anything. My  Dad did.

At her funeral we’d got a beautiful, beautiful casket for her,  which was lambs wool and had her name embroidered on  the plaque. It was beautiful, and it was cream, and I’ve never  seen anything like it before. When it came in, it’s so fitting you  know? Cos she was so soft. That was lovely. I know it’s stupid I  know it shouldn’t matter at all, and I never thought it would. I  always thought, "Oh you could use anything" you know? When  someone comes around and they do funeral arrangements  and you have to choose what you want, I just thought, "Oh  doesn’t matter at all". But I was really pleased actually. 

But she should be here, you know? But saying that, I’m so glad  that it wasn’t drawn out. It was horrible at the end, but when  you look back it didn’t last long, thank goodness. And to be  honest at the end you’re just thinking please let her go. Cos  she said to me, "Sue I’m trying to die and I just can’t." What  do you say to that? But do you know her last words to me? We  were on our own I think, cos I was there all the time; my sisters  got animals so she couldn’t stay there perhaps as long as I  could cos I’m not committed to anything, so I just stayed down  there all the time which was abs . . . I’m so, so, so grateful for  that. And her last words to me was, "Oh Sue you’re a good girl."  So that’s nice, isn’t it?

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