Today is my mother’s birthday.
She’d be 78 today, except that she’s no longer with us. She died 23 years ago, at the shockingly young age of 55. It didn’t seem that shocking to me then, I thought living to your fifties was a pretty reasonable life-span, not sure I’d fancy it, I bet it’s all boring young people to death and thinking modern music is shite.
And of course I realise now how wrong I was. Admittedly, I’m sure I do sometimes bore the young people in my office (“Call this a recession? You should have seen the 80s, we lived on Curly-Wurlys and Smash Dehydrated Mashed Potato”), and admittedly modern music is shite, but that’s just co-incidence. Being in your fifties is a great time of your life, and she’d have loved it.
And if she’d lived longer I’m sure I’d have enjoyed my own fifties more, but I do find that I sometimes have to fight against thinking of myself as old, and nearing the end of my days, simply because I’m getting close to the age at which she died. And then I have to shake myself and remember that my dad is still bouncing (and golfing) happily along at the age of 77, married for five years now to a woman just 9 years older than me and talking these days about moving to Florida. I put it all down to a good diet, a wicked sense of humour and the portrait that he has in his attic.
Thankfully my brother had two of his kids while my mum was alive, so she had seven years of being a granny. She was just brilliant at it, patient, kind and funny, and my niece and nephew adored her. I’m really sad that she never met any of my kids, and that they never met her, but one of my proudest moments was when Tingirl, at her own suggestion, took my mother’s name as her Confirmation name.
I thought about her a lot today, which is good. Some years I think about her a lot on the days coming up to her birthday, then I have a really busy day and suddenly realise that the 18th has passed without me thinking of her at all. Today I had to write May 18th on a number of occasions, and each time thought of her for a few moments.
During her last couple of months in hospital I had a couple of articles published in the magazine Dublin Opinion, and in one issue my name was on the cover as one of the contributors. She was thrilled with this, showing all her sisters, even during her illness. She’d have loved the fact that I have this blog, and I’d have had no problem showing it to her, personal issues and all, knowing she’d support and encourage me.
After all, she was my mum.