Thursday, September 27, 2007

MUM'S THE WORD...

It was a Monday in 1993, just before my birthday, that I got the call that my mother, Glenda, was in the hospital. I was in Glasgow, she in Santa Cruz. Her ex-husband Bill had waited a week to tell me (or anyone) that she’d gone in. As it was the height of Summer, the flights were all booked and by the time I got home to California they had “pulled the plug” on her life. I never got to say “goodbye”. At the time she died, she had Cancer -- and not just one type but three types eating her away from the inside.

I have been lucky to effectively have two mums though. That one who actually gave birth to me, and one I like to call my adoptive or "surrogate mum". I met Heather in the summer of 1987. Well I’d met her husband Gerry and son David at Wembley Stadium (the weekend before) whilst we all stood and watched U2. I was alone. They had binoculars, which I coveted, so in my infinite wisdom, I struck up a conversation with them. Twenty years on and they are the closest thing to a family I’ve ever had. Heather has always been more of a mother than my own mother was.

Born one day (and many years) apart, we are both sensitive, home-loving, nurturing crabs. We speak on the phone often and she is the main person who knows all of my dating peaks and valleys. In fact, when anything of any significance happens, Heather is the first person I want to call to share it with.

Some months ago Heather was diagnosed with Oesophageal Cancer and already being diabetic, the treatment has been getting harder and worse and this weekend she was hospitalised. On Sunday I found out she went in to hospital and the prognosis is grim.

I spoke to her husband, Gerry, yesterday and now she has a tumour on her brain. It’s so unfair but then life isn’t fair. All this and one year away from celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary. Heather and Gerry are the best example I have in my life of a happy marriage. Maybe the only example, I really don’t know.

In any event I am truly the saddest I’ve been in years. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s history repeating itself, and I am set to lose another mum to Cancer (possibly without being able to say goodbye). There are actually a few, close people in my life who either have cancer or a parent with it.

Last night, I needed some air. I was restless and sad beyond belief, and so I took a walk to river side to shoot some photographs. It gave me a few hour’s reprieve before the sadness washed over me once more. Thankfully I’ve had one or two friends who’ve been very supportive (thanks guys). I have many people, particularly on SYBD encouraging me to make the trip south, but I wait to hear whether or not she will even see me (I’m told she’s seeing no one). If I am being honest, I know full-well she won’t want me to go to the expense of travelling down to Bedfordshire, not that I care about the money. It’s only money. Love, people, family and friends are all what matter, right?

But maybe it's better to remember them smiling as they once were? (As pictured above - just last year) Well that's what Gerry said yesterday. I am not sure what to do if I am being honest?

But what I do know is that Heather is truly the mother I never had. Though my own mother was a good person who did the best she could, mothering skills were not something Glenda was blessed with. Heather, on the other hand is warm, kind-hearted, loving, sensitive, maternal and she's someone who's made me a better person by simply having her in my life for twenty years. I am so grateful to have her and to have been loved by her. Though it's truly a painful time for me right now, I'd not trade it for not knowing her for anything in the world.

If you have a mother, mom, mum - who's still around then pick up the phone and call her now. And remember you're lucky. If your mum has passed, then call anyone who's been like a mum to you. An aunt, a step-mom, a mentor - whoever. Let them know how grateful you are to know and love them. Let them know while you can.

On that cheery note, I am off to a comedy club, can you believe it? It's actually the last place I feel like going but as Stef just said in a text: "We have to live life as much as we can. Out of respect to those who are denied the chance". What a beautiful sentiment, you can tell he's a writer, eh? But truer words never spoken.

Take care and be well all you out there. I hope for cheery news in my next entry.

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