I love you, Mum, and more than anything today I would like to hear you laugh. The world was joyous when you laughed.
It was County Night on BBC4. I found myself singing along loudly, knowing every word to Crystal Gayle and Tammy Wynette from a childhood listening to you do the same. I hadn’t heard “Good Girls Gonna Go Bad” for a very long time but I remembered every line, intonation and lick in Billy Jo’s voice. You imprinted a love of Country music in me without me even realising.
You would put on your country albums on a Saturday morning whilst doing the housework. Dusting and scrubbing along to “D.I.V.O.R.C.E”and other classics, loudly enough to cause howls of distress from Dad and the boys. Especially when you turned the volume up to hear the music above the hoover. They had enough and one Mother’s Day they bought you a walkman and tapes of all your favourites so you could listen without disturbing them. Or so they thought. They had forgotten how much you liked to sing along. So now they just got your terrible, out of time and tune voice. It was a sweet revenge.
I wish I could have called you to say the programme was on and that you should get Dad to record it for you. I wish we could have sat and watched it together, dueting in a way that only you and I could miss (I don’t think anyone who heard our version of Unchained Melody ever got over it).
It was on a Mother’s Day I told you I was pregnant, that finally and somewhat unexpectedly you would have a grandchild. It was a beautiful day and we had a lovely lunch. You had already started to have problems with your memory and I can’t remember when you got the diagnosis we all feared, but it was around that time. My whole journey of motherhood has been tied up with the grief of losing you slowly over time. We never really got to be a Mum and a Mum together did we? I wish we had, I wish I could have told you that “No Charge” makes sense now and thank you for all you did. Just how much I loved you. I tell your Grandson every day how much I love him, every day. He misses you too, despite never really knowing you.
I wish, more than anything that I could hear you laugh. That I could play you “Cowboys Don’t Shoot Straight Like They Used Too” and watch your nose twitch and hear that fabulous noise explode from you like a firework of joy.
I wish that a cure for Alzheimer’s could be found to spare any other family this pain. You were such a lovely lady, full of love and giving. I miss you, Mum and I wish you were still here.