Today is the twenty-first anniversary of Mam's death. And the pain is still as raw and gaping as it was on that day. Oh I've learned to live with it - but part of me is missing. I've tried to live my life in honour of hers since her death, for she loved life, was full of it - laughing, smiling, mischievous, loving - she had the biggest heart and always had time for everyone. Her only fault a quick temper - but it passed as quickly as it brewed. She was mad about Dad but they had tough times - too little money, too many kids and demands pulling from everywhere. A Church that had too much influence on a young State did not make things easy. They were a passionate couple and passion doesn't always make the best marriage. But they did their best.
The day Mam died Dad shouted at me 'You don't understand! My life is over!Over!' His heart was broken, his spirit destroyed. He had just 'gotten her back' from the rearing of their brood, he had retired early from the Gardai and they had been talking about relocating to Wexford, his home town - perhaps starting a little fabric shop. Mam loved material, sewing, fashion and had worked all her life as a sales assistant in shops like Cassidys and Hickeys. She made us all lovely clothes (of which we were not in the least bit grateful - or not grateful enough anyway). I had home made hotpants, maxi dresses, angel tops, dresses for special occasions. When I'd moan 'I've nothing to wear' she'd call me 'the best dressed girl in the County Council' when I'd nag her into helping me pick some fabric and pattern and then into making it for me.
I was too shy to go into the open changing rooms in shops then. I hated my big angular body. I was five foot nine and a half and about ten stone on a big frame. I was an awful eejit.The only bit of me I liked was my back - the skin was sallow and flawless so Mam made me occasion dresses to celebrate that. If Mam said I looked fabulous I almost believed her. I never believed anyone else.And I certainly didn't trust my own judgement. I was the oldest, the fat one, specky four eyed bossy know-it-all. Oh what fools we are in youth!And oh how sorry I feel for that young girl/woman - I wish I could wrap mt arms around her - tell her she is wise and strong and compassionate. That she will meet and mate with a good, good man and have the babies she yearned for, that she would find her voice and use it to tell the truth and above all that people would (eventually) understand her.
My Mam made me. And she did a good job. My flaws are the mistakes I made when I deviated from the path she set me on or when I neglected my father's mantra of 'tell the truth'. I miss you Mam, I love you and your DNA is carried on in all of us, in all our children and eventually in their children. In this way you will be with us forever.