I am just back from a lovely girly weekend away to Ibiza. The last time I went to Ibiza, I was 17. I and my three fellow 17-year old friends partied and holidayed like only teenagers can. It was pure freedom.
This time, there were 9 of us and the average age was 46 and a half. It was freedom of a different kind. Freedom from work. Freedom from kids. Freedom from the entrapment of grown-up life.
The first time I went to Ibiza, I drank too much. I stayed out too late. Danced into the early hours and burnt my bum.
Fast forward 25 years and things haven’t really moved on. I drank too much. I stayed out late and I danced to a rock band and sang “Highway to Hell” as loudly as I could. I say I sang, it was more of a shout. I didn’t burn my bum this time. The rain put paid to that. So, instead we went skinny dipping, danced salsa in the hotel foyer in front of a hundred or so, OAP’s and played Velcro darts.
The salsa and the darts were all down to the oldest of our group. Gill is remarkable. She is in her mid fifties, but looks 35. She is wanting a challenge next year and is currently considering whether to cycle across Europe or row across the Atlantic. She is trying to rope a few of us in and to be honest, at the moment, I am considering how long I can justify being away from the kids and Hubby. A year’s trekking around South America visiting elusive tribes and researching the destruction of the rain forests might be a bit much. But, two months riding a rickshaw across China? Perhaps.
It was while I was away that my new status as Girl About Harrogate was launched. I am now officially part of a girl blog squad. A team of us across Yorkshire who review local attractions and experiences in our home towns. It stems from Girl About Yorkshire – a hugely successful blog by a fabulous Yorkshire lass – that has grown so big, she has recruited a team to help her out.
I am sooooo excited! I am excited about writing for a wider audience. I am excited about being part of a brilliant, witty, like-minded squad of mummy bloggers. I am excited about being able to promote independent restaurants and attractions in and around Harrogate. And…. I am supremely excited about the food!
My mum would be delighted. She’d also be booking herself in to come as my +1 to some of the launch events, parties and restaurants. She’d have walked in to these events, chest out, proud as punch, probably declaring my arrival a little too loudly. It would have made us both giggle like school girls.
I sometimes wonder what she would think of me sharing her story in my blog. I sometimes worry that I might have overstepped the mark. I worry that her pride would have been dented and she would be disappointed in me. But, then I realise that I would not be writing for a living or writing as part of a fabulous blog squad, had my mother not had dementia. It would have been something I thought I would perhaps try at some point. I would have procrastinated and doubted myself, possibly delaying writing for fear of failure. But, my mother’s illness started and the horror of what she went through, the grief my family faced and continue to face, inspired me to write. To write it all down. To vent my anger and my hurt. To share our story, so that others might learn the things we learnt the hard way. To make it all – all the pain and the loss, the suffering and the heart-break – mean something. I wanted her story to have an impact, I wanted our pain to count for something, to have a purpose and the only way I could think to do that was through writing.
I hope she would have understood. I hope she would have understood that it was – and still is – my way of coping. I hope she could have known all the people and families her story has helped.
Mum was a lot like my friend, Gill. She’d have been the one volunteering her friends to join in the darts and the salsa dancing. She’d have been up for an adventure of a lifetime. She simply ran out of time.
My mother’s illness has taught me a lot. It has been a harsh and heart-breaking lesson. Some people do wake up and find out that it’s too late to follow their dream, or start a new adventure. Some people don’t get the future they planned. Sometimes, time just runs out.
I am grateful to my mother for so many things, she has made me who I am and her strength, love and kindness are evident in her grandchildren. I see her qualities in them every day. But, I am also grateful that she made me write. It wasn’t a fully conscious thing, it was more of a need, the proverbial itch that needed scratching. The words and emotions needed to escape out of me and so, without really thinking about it, and without telling anyone I was doing it, I started to write.
I miss her every day. Some days more than others. And, I would give up the writing to have her back, to have her tell me she is proud, or to hear her laugh again. But, I know that cannot happen. So, instead I will write more. I will blog more. I will shout about my mother through words on a screen or in a book and I will make damned sure her story makes a difference and has an impact.
If I can’t have you, Mum, I will make sure everyone knows how much you matter.
Now, I wonder if I can get a rickshaw ordered with Mum’s gorgeous face plastered all over the side of it? Surely as Girl About Yorkshire I now have clout and influence enough to sort that out?!
Miss you, Mum, you crazy old bird!