10 March 2013

a love letter from my mother

Before you read this. I have had several episodes of depression on and off since my late teens and most acutely after the birth of each of our children.  I was into my thirties when two friends introduced me to the book I'm OK, You're OK. This opened the door for me to examine the relationship with my parents using the Transactional Analysis model.  It has rung many bells and illuminated many light bulbs since and is an ongoing journey. This backdrop may account for some of the instances where you might question why mum or I didn't do things differently. 

But it is what it is, our story..


There is a scene at near the end of the movie The Chorus where the unjustly fired music teacher Clement Mathieu is made to leave his school without saying goodbye to the pupils.  The boys having been primed by the school caretaker throw paper aeroplanes through the dormitory window covered with written thank you, goodbye and we’ll miss you messages. These paper missiles land at Mathieu’s feet as he is leaving and he scoops them up to read, looks up at the small waving hands, smiles ruefully and takes a handful with him on his way.

When mum died we didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye - a combination of us living a hundred miles away and her slipping away sooner than expected.  I'm honestly not quite sure what we or I would have said in the situation if she had been conscious.  Love was awkward in expressing itself and mum tended to show it by doing rather than saying things.

In my early 20's I do remember a couple of instances of where she told other people things about me, rather than saying them directly to me. At the time I simply did not have the emotional understanding that I could question why:

A note she had left on a table written to an aunt of ours, detailed how beautiful my engagement ring looked and how she loved it on my delicate finger (I am a tiny size J).

A friend of mine after my wedding day told me she overheard mum say to someone else on the day how beautiful she thought I looked.

Love for me in the written and spoken words to others

Adoration shone through on the many photos she was in with her grandchildren.  

The day my brother got married, it showed in her face and in the photos that she was fantastically happy for him and his wife, even though her body was now more frail and buffeted by the cancer that would eventually take her away.

Love for us in her beautiful face

Mum died in the autumn of 2008 just into her 71st year.  Her funeral was packed with family, friends from church, neighbours, work colleagues and friends of ours who had known her.  Dad had worried about doing the church service before family and close friends went to the crematorium, because he thought people would drift away.  Had we not done it that way round, the damp drizzly November day would have not cleared a little as we were driven away from the crematorium to reveal a glorious rainbow arcing in the sky right over the place we had just left.

Her love left in our hearts

The people who attended the funeral and wanted to see us had stayed at the church, not least because of the tantalising catering gifts of the church ladies.  I made my way round as many tables as I could and it is the exchanges  with some of mum and dad’s neighbours that has stuck with me. One of them Sandra cleaned for mum for a number of years, a loquacious lady whom I’m sure mum would not have readily chosen as a close friend.  When mum knew she was dying she had told Sandra and how she felt.  Sandra spoke back to me mum's thoughts over a slab of cheesecake, ‘I’m happy now I know that B (our 2nd son) has got into his first choice of university and C (our daughter) well, she’ll just be OK whatever she does.’  I am so grateful Sandra stayed at the church and communicated those words to me, because they were:

A love message to me from mum

I'll not underestimate the difficult journey it has sometimes been to get to this place, to be able to see the love notes, for what they really are.  But the really special letter, this was the one that started it all.

After someone dies there is the difficult task of sifting through their possessions and deciding what to do with them.  In amongst some of the papers in mum's bedside drawer was a letter she wrote to someone in the days after I was born.  She had a difficult birth, started at home and ended in hospital. It is likely that I was oxygen deprived during delivery and medical staff had given her a few worst case scenarios on that one. Forceps had left some unattractive marks on my head.  But the letter was simply full of a new mother basking in her baby’s beauty, being so in love with the precious bundle before her, abounding in phrases like poppet and sweet little thing. 

I am hopeful that I can find that letter again after Dad has gone.  And I know no matter what happens or what I do God looks on me as the most beautiful thing He has ever seen, every time He looks at me.

I am loved unconditionally simply because I am His. 

In the weight of the words in mum's letter, but a thousand times over.

I love you mum x

Here is the clip from The Chorus is (it is in French but I’m sure most of you will be able to recognise the majority of the words on the paper aeroplanes from classroom French).  Even better if you’ve not seen it, get the whole movie on DVD – it has English subtitles!


  1. My mom loved and still loves by doing also. I have no doubt of her faithful, sacrificial love!

    1. Hi there, thanks for reading! I'm glad for me too it is the positives that now remain