Friday, 25 January 2008

For Mum

It’s been a while since I have blogged and I have much to catch up on. Trying to remember things to tell you has caused me to sit and reflect on the last few months and how all this started.

I didn’t enter the CL competition but started to blog around the time it was “all happening” in February 2007. Writing an online diary was therapeutic and opened up a whole new world I never knew existed. And I “met” you; became involved in your lives through the good times and some bad times, and even though I have been an infrequent player lately, the warmth of the site ensures I can dip in and out when I can. It’s like coming home to family after long absences and it is this that I am going to share with you – my family.

As many of you know, it was my 40th birthday in November. I thought I was going out with my nearest and dearest for a low-key family meal at the Three Choirs Vineyard restaurant, near my home. But, oh no! My wonderful, fabulous and sometimes exasperating family had plotted and sneaked around behind my back to arrange the MOST wonderful get-together of all my closest family, friends and former work colleagues. They raided my address book and pinched my mobile phone to get telephone numbers – nothing was sacred. The extent of their deception in other circumstances would have horrified me but I forgave them instantly, after I recovered from the shock, that is!

Jimmy was run ragged on nervous exhaustion and, with hindsight, his behaviour had been a little odd. But, as he’d been preparing to work Lincoln Christmas Market and Worcester Christmas Fair, I’d been used to him coming and going and making umpteen phone calls to fellow traders, to check on pitch locations and such-like.

My poor mum, on the other hand, nearly had a nervous breakdown. As we have been eating and showering at mum’s during our extension works, she’d been trying to co-ordinate everyone whilst I was in the shower. I never suspected a thing when she ushered me up the stairs for first shower, nor did I think it strange when they all went quiet when I came down the stairs again for my forgotten towel. They pulled it off with the flair of fully trained MI5 intelligence officers, but it was my mum who pulled it all together.

Mum works at a local B&B the-grovehouse and it is also here that we keep Diamond (a lovely horse I had on loan for a while from a friend but she has taken him back on full time now) and became friendly with the house’s owners, Ellen and Michael. They have a barn there for weddings and parties and they gave my family the free run of it for my party. But this wasn’t all. As we had been eating at mum’s every night, there was no way that any food could be prepared without me seeing it. The fridge was out of bounds too, which was a bit tricky as I am chief tea maker, and there was nowhere to hide the wine either!

This was the bit I found hardest to get my head around when I found out the extent of the military operation of my birthday celebrations. Our wonderful neighbours in the village not only also kept the secret, but provided all the hot food. They made curries and casseroles, in addition to bringing cold platters and the desserts. The farmer’s wife, over the road from us, even made my birthday cake. It was truly the most wonderful surprise of my life.

They managed to get me inside (still unsuspecting, I might add!) under the pretext of picking mum up from work as she’d been “helping at a wedding” before we went on to my birthday meal at the Three Choirs. Now, what I haven’t told you is that as lovely as Grove House is, it has antiquated wiring and it is always having power cuts at inappropriate moments. So when we pulled up, mum came out in a flap and asked if I could help her as the wedding reception was in full flow and the power had gone. Being an old hand at stepping into the breach, I huffed a bit and moaned and got out the car to help with candles and matches while we sorted the trip out. But of course, I walked into darkness that suddenly became light and was surrounded by a sea of my best-loved people in the whole world.

Yes, I did cry. My pregnant best friend had traveled up from London with her partner and 3 year old son; my uncle and cousins had come up from Bath; my brother and heavily pregnant sister-in-law had come from Birmingham; some other friends had come from Kent; my former boss (she was my true mentor at work) and her husband were there; our whole village……. Oh, I could go on. Shock registered on my face as I looked at each grouping of people and I saw friends that I hadn’t seen for nearly 12 months in some cases. The evening passed in a whirl but is filed away in my precious memories box. I’m not usually one for surprise parties, but this was amazing. To be surrounded by my nearest and dearest for my 40th was actually all I could have wanted, and they pulled out all the stops for me that night.

And my mum worked hard all night – bringing out the food from the kitchen, taking dirty plates away and washing up. She did not stop until the last wine glass was washed and put back in the box, except in her toast to me when I blew out my candle (just the one, otherwise it would have melted the cake!!). She spoke of our special relationship; the times when she was bringing me up as a single parent with my widowed Nan helping, but the fun us three girls had as our own unit; her remarriage and our growing into a bigger family and the way our relationship has grown, as I have, over the years. She made me blush, cry and laugh in succession as she told everyone how I was a model baby who hardly cried; a toddler who found an almost empty wine bottle at my uncle’s house and swigged the last bit down and carried it to her saying “Nice!”; her grief when she found out I had Scleroderma and how our roles are beginning to reverse as we each get older.

So, to my mum, today is YOUR birthday and I would like to say that although we are now friends in a different way, I am still your little girl and you are a wonderful Mum who has put your family first throughout your life. I will cherish the memories of my childhood and can still close my eyes and catapult myself back to the little blue chair you had welded into your truck’s cab for me, so that I could come to work with you when you were making ends meet as a lorry driver. I can still hear you singing nursery rhymes with me, until you were hoarse, on those long journeys and remember sharing a packed lunch that Nan had made for us. Those were our special times – the three of us against the world, and I consider myself the luckiest of children to have shared it all with you. XX