Dear Mother …

January 29th, 2017

Dear Mother,

January 29th will never mean anything else to me except your birthday. It’s far more significant than May 31st ~ the day you died in 2009.

It felt ‘your birthdayish’ from the minute I opened the front door early this morning to bring Stan for a walk. The birds were chirping in the Monkey Puzzle and the snowdrops in the garden seemed to have multiplied a hundred-fold since yesterday.

It was Men’s Final Day at the Australian Open so I planked myself down in front of the fire and the television from 8.30am until around 12.30 and savoured every single rally in a brilliant match between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Federer won in five sets and  would you believe Rod Laver presented him with the cup.

I was thinking that you’d have been listening to it on the Radio if you were here  and  got to thinking then how it was you who got me into tennis in the first place and how it was your father who got you into it. I wonder who introduced him to it?

The game was played in the best possible spirit and Kipling’s If kept coming to mind. Roger even said in his speech that he would have been quite happy to share the tournament with Rafa. You don’t hear that very often and needless to say it had me balling, probably like half the people watching. So much for Dad’s ‘killer instinct,’ for today anyway.

I can’t imagine what on earth it would have been like to grow up in a house where sport wasn’t on the agenda or dogs,  gardening,  your trifle, poetry, the sea,  rules about ‘no sweets before lunch,’  diaries, crosswords, slogans,  horses, everyday phonecalls when we never ran out of stuff to say … never, ever, ever …

Harry and I went out to the beach in the afternoon with the dogs and we drew a huge heart in the sand and wrote in it with an old stick – the kind you always managed to find when the situation demanded. We agreed that writing in the sand is much nicer than going to a grave. I’d never given the’no grave’  bit any thought when you were adamant about cremation. It’s not an issue, you’ll be glad to hear, because we always seem to go to places you loved ~ or should I say ‘beaches you loved’ on special days like your birthday. Must be that every day is special cos we’re at the beach every day!

I came across a poem the other day that I thought you’d like and then I wondered if you knew it as it was written by a woman who lived from 1918-2001, not too different from your 1921-2009.  Anyway here it is:

At the ship’s bow. It was my eye that drew
the perfect circle of blue meeting blue.
No land was visible. There was no sail,
no cloud to show the mighty world in scale,
no sky and ocean, by my gaze defined,
were drawn within the compass of my mind
under a temperate sun. The engine’s sound
sank to a heartbeat. Stillness all around.
Only the perfect circle and the mast.
That moment knew no future and no past.

(Amy Witting)

It’s strange not getting you a present or even picking your little bouquet of snowdrops. Remember that year we were in Tenerife for your birthday and I got you the post card with the flamenco dancer with the real skirt and wrote it in terrible Spanish from our phrase book?

Well, there’s a touch of that today. I have a photo of a robin that seems to have been waiting for today. I hope you like him. Imagine him singing Happy Birthday; much more melodious than me ~ that’s for sure.


Lots of love,

Jean xxx


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

31 thoughts on “Dear Mother …”

    1. Thanks! Yes, I got on extremely well with both of them ~ they were chalk and cheese in so many ways.
      Having so much shared history and great memories ~ however banal they may seem ~ makes it so much easier to have them gone as they are very much in my being no matter what I’m doing.

  1. A very heartfelt letter to your Mom and the tradition of going to the beach and writing in a heart really touched me. Remembering all the things that your Mom did that made her so special…These are what memories are made of..

  2. Jean, Happy Belated Birthday to your Mom! This post got me teary eyed. My Dad passed away on January 27, 2001. I celebrate his life on his July birthday but remember him on his death day, too. Water (lakes, ocean), crossword puzzles, real puzzles, books, space, science and nature were similar to your list.
    Hope the dog (Stan) and Harry helped ease the sadness and happy memories helped, too.

    1. I’m glad the post resonated with you and sympathies on your father’s passing.
      Yesterday was a celebratory day for me, not sad. Clearly, I miss Mother but feel that she’s part of my life and she comes to mind in all sorts of ways every single day. It could be just something like making a shopping list as she used always put down ‘For Tea’ in hope of inspiration and I’m the same!!

  3. I will not cry, I will not cry…darn, it’s just that my eyes leak at times…
    Those we love never leave us, for they embed themselves in our heart, in our very soul.. Happy Birthday, Jean’s Mum need no grave, for you live on in your daughter.

      1. I couldn’t help but think of my parents also, and how many birthdays of Mum’s we’ve missed as she left us 32 years before Dad. Your Mum sounds wonderful.

  4. I know how much I would have liked your mom if I’d ever met her. Must be why I like you so much too, even though we’ve never met each other. I have no doubt that your mom is reading your “letter” and smiling. She probably was quite aware of that tennis match also. My mom used to love watching tennis on the TV and would even shout out loud when a good point was made. (You give a great description of the final this year.) My mom is still alive but unable to understand tennis, or letters, or even the TV. But I still send her cards so that hopefully in someway she’ll always understand my love.

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