You’ve gone. Passed away, “croaked it” as you would have said.
Although we all knew this day was coming, I think it’s come 10 years earlier than we expected. The poison you put into your body was always going to beat you, it was just a matter of time as to when. The pathologist will tell us more in the coming days.
You were my hero as a child. I’d stand there in the kitchen and watch you cook, clean and jig as Wham’s Club Tropicana would blast out from the lounge. We would go out together and play in the park, like a mother and child should do. You’d say we were going out ‘after this record’ and for me to sit on the stairs until it was finished, I didn’t understand that a record meant an album, causing me to sit through Michael Jackson’s Bad one more time. That house just off Beaumont Leys Lane was nasty in it’s appearance and location but I loved our time there.
Dad told me about how proud you were when you told Nannie and Grandad that you were pregnant. An underground Army bar in Londonderry where he was posted at the time, you were 19 and growing me into the man I am today. Thank you for making me the most precious thing for some of your life. They are the times I’m trying to remember. I’m struggling more than I thought I would Mum, I thought I was ready for this, I’m not.
Writing to you is helping me, I wish I’d succeeded in helping you. I feel guilty for failing to win that battle with you but I needed to go into the war with an ally, you’d defected long ago.
I remember so many good times Mum. It was just us initially. I didn’t see my Dad very often because he was in the army and you were split up, a concept too complicated for me to deal with back then, you protected me from all that and showed me love, and boy did we have a giggle.
I recall once finding out it was your birthday, very late in the day. I hadn’t gotten you a card or present, I was about 5 (as you know, my memory is very strange, I can recall a lot more than you think I can, for better and often for worse) I wanted to show you that I’d remembered your birthday. I was in bed, it was night time and the noisy teenagers on the street were providing me with some interesting local words for my vocabulary.
I got a beaker from in my room, drunk the pop from within it and ripped up some paper to create confetti. I then balanced the beaker on my door so that if you came in, it would fall and the confetti would make it a celebration. That was my intention anyway. You came into my room to check in on me before you went to bed. Like a proper Mum does, that pleases me right now.
The beaker fell, confetti everywhere and as the clunk of the plastic beaker hitting your head made me giggle, I heard you say “little git” – your way of appreciation. You left me to clean up the mess in the morning, that was you all over.
As a 5 year old I wanted to wish my first love, my Mum, a happy birthday. I think I got there in the end.
I remember us rolling around laughing when I was a kid, you were a sucker for a good giggle at each other, and adored me creating a cheeky streak in my character. I’d go to bed, you’d tuck me in, give me a kiss and wish me goodnight – with those horrible yellow curtains and thick army blankets in my room, I still haven’t told Her Majesty’s finest that you’d ‘borrowed’ them – I’d come downstairs an hour after being put to bed with a pillowcase over my head, just able to see and breath through the thin fabric, I’d creep into the lounge and watch the TV at the door, you’d heard me long ago thumping down the stairs.
The way I saw it was that if I could only just see you then there’s a chance that you can’t see me, boy logic right there.
You’d laugh at me and ask “do you not think I can see you” – I’d not know whether to speak and let on that I was there or not. You’d applaud my creativity and cuddle up to watch the TV with me until I fell asleep.
You were there for me when I cut my knees, threw up all over you or confessed I was in love, at 6 years old. When I was a little lad, you were perfect. I had nothing but love for you.
I tried to be there for you Mum I swear I did, but it all became too much to handle, everything I tried had no effect, the drink always won, I needed you to show me some sort of commitment, that you wanted to get better, that we cared enough for you to opt for a life with your children and Grandchildren, rather than a pint of warm flat lager.
I don’t blame you, I’m angry at the disease you suffered from and I will remain a non-drinker for life.
We discussed trying to find a solution a number of times, including last January when you turned up at the clock tower, that chat didn’t last long.
That was the final time I saw you alive, in the back of a cab on the way to the train station.
People in Lincoln, where you were living, told me that you were always discussing your family and spoke with such pride. Thank you. I was proud of you too at times.
Please understand that the entire family had tried and tried and tried, we’d dug you out of enough holes over the years that we had maxed out, we needed for you to take a little step forwards for us. I hadn’t given up on you, I would never have done that.
I was hoping above all else that you’d make a start, you’d have had a massive team cheering you on if you had, not easy when addiction grips you I know, but we were there for you. I spelt it out enough times and you knew, you understood. I hope you feel I did enough to try and help Mum. I wanted my Mum back. So did my brother and sister.
Mum I just wanted for you to want to get some help, some proper help.
You were poorly Mum and I couldn’t make you better, I’m sorry.
Sleep well. I’ll try and be the best man I can possibly be.