I’ve started writing this letter a couple of times over the past week. Truth be known I didn’t really know where to start.
You know me …
Head like scrambled eggs.
Tendency to ramble.
I suppose the beginning would be a good place. Tuesday 15th December 1970 at 6.15am when I popped into your world [like a little ray of sunshine] and you held me in your arms for the first time .
The first time I met you Mum. That special bond was set. Though of course I didn’t realise it at the time !
It’s been a roller-coaster of 46 years, people have come and people have gone. I’ve had my ups and my downs but the one thing that has remained constant has been you [and dad]
I just wanted to say thank-you…
You’ve always been so proud of me.
You believed in me when I didn’t even believe in me. I’m still not very confident something you and dad could never really understand. What can I say …I’m a work in progress; a slow burner.
You taught me to laugh at myself , that the best line of defence was to get in there first. I admit this took some working on but I now fully embrace my faults and constantly take the mickey out of myself.
Yes I pout like I’m a sucking a lemon on selfies. Yes I have big teeth like Rylan … and yes I have the balance of Bambi – you get my drift.
You always instilled it into me that I was capable of anything if I set my mind to it. That I was as good as the next person.
You encouraged me to aim big; that the world was mine for the taking.
I didn’t take the world, I’ve not even touched the sides but I’ve not done too bad.
Thank-you for the laughter …
My childhood memories are that of lots of fun and laughter. A happy home makes for happy children.
As a treat on a Friday we would have sausage sandwiches for tea . We were allowed to sit in the room [not at the table] while watching ‘Crack-a-Jack’. We’d fall about laughing at ‘Ohhh I could crush a grape’ and the silly antics.
This was usually followed by an hour with ‘Monkey’ [ the TV series] Mark and I loved this and we’d have pretend fights … which mostly ended in real ones!
We used to dance a lot … in the kitchen, in the living room.
You’d stick the music on. I recall the ‘Thriller’ album was a particular favourite of ours. You adored Micheal Jackson.
We’d get in from school and have the mad half hour. We would boogie to our hearts content. Mark would usually end up on the floor ‘break-dancing’ , moon-walking or something equally as funny. He was always the joker and the show-off of the family.
Your favourite dancing song was ‘Tainted Love’ and you’d do your ‘special’ Marc Almond moves.
I fondly remember road trips to The South of France, the soundtrack came courtesy of Blondie and Ultravox. The whole family knew word for word the lyrics to ‘Sunday Girl’ and ‘Vienna’.
Even Dad would sing along. Being chief driver he would occasionally put his foot down and play his favourite album – The Best of Roy Orbison.
I bet I was the only 14-year-old who knew ‘Only the Lonely ‘ word for word.
I want to apologise for being that moody 14-year-old…
I can’t actually remember being such a handful but I have always had a terrible temper with mood swings.
Dear God I’m a bloody nightmare on my period PLUS I’ve seen the evidence on pictures in various photo albums.
The holiday to Cannes for one … where you allowed me to have my beautiful long hair cropped into a pixie cut.
Where you also bought me that fantastic blue leather belt and matching off shoulder sweater from a fancy boutique.
I don’t think there’s one picture of me smiling on that whole holiday.
I loved my chic short hair and my grown up outfit not that you’d be able to tell from the pics.
Moody and mardy, or as you’d say ‘with a face like a slapped arse!’
It was while we were in France that I became obsessed with toilets .
It’s probably something to do with my initial horror of arriving in France and coming face to face with a traditional French toilet. Basically standing up with legs-a- kimbo while weeing down a hole… or in my case all over my foot.
I’m sorry you weren’t allowed to go the toilet until I had marked it out of 10.
I’m sorry for all the crossed leg moments.
I’m sorry I’m a bit strange.
I’d like to take it all away …
You’ve been through so much over the past few years and the recent news that your cancer [or rather the bastard] is back has knocked us all , but especially you, for six.
As you know I’ve cried most days for the past month or so but I’m getting stronger. Another attribute I get from you – strength.
I’ve been told by everyone to remain positive, to stop thinking negatively .That you’ll be around for a long while yet.
The reality is hard to stomach ; you have stage 4 cancer that can only be contained … but not cured. You are officially classed as ‘Living with Cancer.’
However you are a fighter and I’m a big girl.
Tell you what mum … you put on your boxing gloves and I’ll put on my ‘big girls pants’ We’ll give ‘the bastard’ a run for it’s money.
Thankyou for ‘THAT’ letter…
I have every single letter you ever wrote to me while I was away studying. I read them sometimes, you know for old times sake. They make me smile.
Reminders of days gone past and loved ones long gone.
Can you remember my 2-year stint at Lincoln College?
I bloody hated it.
While most people searched the cathedral for the ‘Lincoln Imp’ I avoided him like the plague.
The tale was that once you’d seen him you’d always return! I didn’t chuffing want too.
Can you remember the weekend you brought Grandma and Grandad across to see me at the grotty house I called home for a year?
You’d always come armed with homemade bacon and mushroom Quiche, apples and clean washing .
You make the best Quiche.
The apples were to ensure I was eating at least 1 of my 5 a day and clean washing well that was always a god-send.
I’d sit and smell it. It sent like home, not musky and damp like my manky surroundings.
You all blatantly refused to sit down, you didn’t even take your coats off! You turned your nose up at cup of tea ,ushering us quickly out of the house to the local cafe.
The house was dark and filthy to say the least.
I don’t think it helped I told you we had a new friend … and it was a mouse that was living in the settee!
I never did know when to shut-up did I?
Anyway back to that letter.
You went into hospital for your hysterectomy, I think you were only in your early 40s. You left dad in charge with written instructions and complete with letters. One for Mark and one for me.
It’s the first time you’d been away from us for a considerable period of time and the letters were to reassure us that everything would be ok.
As well as telling us we both meant the world to you… you ended mine with ‘ I’ll be fine we Herrings are fighters‘
My God Mum you aren’t wrong!
What you’ve been through the last 3 or 4 years would test the most resilient amongst us.
We don’t need to go into the nitty-gritty details of your treatment as your fully aware of what you’ve been through / what you still are going through.
I just want to tell you I’m so very proud of the way you conduct yourself. The way you take everything in your stride.
I know it frustrates you. There have been tears and it’s so very hard at times but you always manage to raise a smile. I love seeing you smile.
I’ll always be there for you…
We don’t know what the future holds.
In all honesty does anybody?
The terrorist attack in London earlier this week emphasises just how precious life is. That it can be taken away just like that.
I can’t stop thinking about the poor victims; especially the lady who was on the school run to pick her 8 and 12-year-old children up.
Those children never got to see their mum again. They never got to say good-bye. I find that so cruel, so very sad.
So I’m here to tell you that rest assured whatever the future does bring mum I’ll always be here for you.
It kinda feels like we’ve reversed roles and it’s now my turn to look after you. Ha ha I’m in charge now [God help us]
I know it might not be easy at times, but I also know there will be plenty more giggles.
While ever you can refer to yourself as ‘Miss Funny Fanny‘ like you did earlier today I know my mums still there with that wicked sense of humour!
We’ll get through it … hopefully with a smile on our faces and with me holding your hand all the way.
Just like you’ve always held mine …
Love you to the moon and back , Tracey xxx