My mother would have never dreamt – not in her worst nightmares – that she would be the inspiration for my novel, Life Without Me – a book full of extramarital sex, sisterly rivalry and maternal incompetence. All very much anti-family values, and yet the book is very much about the power of family. Thanks to my mum.
In her quiet, timid way my mother was a powerhouse. She held our family together while my dad – my kindred spirit as he was – existed on the outskirts, out and about, busy saving the world. So my mum took care of the important stuff, like our family. She tolerated our extravagances, chewed on the constant worries we threw at her and leant on my sensible big brother if things needed mending around the house.
Then she decided to get ill. Very ill.
We didn’t expect that. We didn’t believe in her illness. People beat cancer all the time. We really wanted her to come home and stop playing dead. It was then that she -for the first time in her life – confronted us with brutal reality: she was NOT coming home. She was dying.
Life would go on without her, she told us.
We would go on. Whatever we were getting up to, and most of it was no good, she was certain of that, we would get on just fine, and despite everything we would make it. God knows how – we’d certainly tempt the fate with our antics, but life does that: it carries on regardless.
So here it is, my debut, Life Without Me, my mum’s philosophical legacy. Thanks Mum.
Being camera-shy, my mother successfully escaped many a photo opportunity in her time. A while back, in my very clumsy way, I drew this portrait of her. In no way does it show the beautiful person that she was, but I tried. And she would forgive me the way I oversized her shapely nose and that one eye is twice-removed from its rightful place on her face.