Last week was the first anniversary of my Mum passing away. It was a Monday night, a year ago, that my Dad and I were by her bed side.
It had been a warm sunny day and the heat from the day was still in the air as the sun started to set. The view from her window was of the Bristol Channel between Wales and England. And the sun was setting on the sea on the horizon.
The sun was also setting on my Mum too.
I reflected last week what would be the best way to celebrate her passing, a year on.
The idea came to me as I looked across the English countryside from Newlands Corner, near Guildford in Surrey, England. An amazing beautiful view. Miles upon miles of unbroken countryside.
The moment came. I thought what better way than to share what I learnt from my Mum and what she taught me over the years – Mum’s ‘Life Lessons’.
1. Resilience – she was a fighter. For the best part of 30 years she fought health problems. Even as her body started to slow down and fail, she mentally battled on with a positive spirit.
She never wallowed. She fought on.
Life Lesson 1: Never give up
2. Self-sufficiency – she once said to me, ‘You have to fend for yourself. We won’t always be here.’ That hit me hard when I was a young boy growing up, but it taught me that I had to stand on my own two feet.
She taught me never to have to rely on others. She taught me to cook, clean, wash, iron and hoover.
Life Lesson 2: To be self-sufficient
3. Give to others – she was a very generous person. She would give to others and not expect it back.
She always believed in helping others, particularly those who weren’t as fortunate as her. I remember how she used to bake 22 cakes at Christmas to give to others in the village.
She wanted to put a smile on their faces, when sometimes they didn’t have family or friends close by.
Life Lesson 3: To be kind
4. Be You – like a young person growing up I wanted to be popular. I wanted to be in the popular group. I failed. I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough.
She taught me to be myself. Whether others liked me or not, was not my problem. I could only be myself. If others didn’t like me, that wasn’t my problem.
Life Lesson 4: Be you
Pick Yourself Up
These are just four life lessons that I learnt from Mum, amongst many more. Over the years these lessons have stayed with me. They are integral to who I am. They are core to me.
Whenever I faced difficulties, she would turn to me and say:
‘Just pick yourself up and dust yourself down’
How right she was. And how many times in my life those words have played rung in my ears when I’ve needed them.
Last Monday there was a beautiful sunset. She’d have loved it.
She’s on her new journey now.
All I can say is ‘Thank you Mum’ for helping make me who I am today.