I have had one of those inspiring weeks…I have been super busy with Mrs Mummypenny, I have had lots of fun time with family and friends over the bank holiday, I managed a good amount of exercise and ate well. And my mission to drink 2-3 litres of water every day was a success. But today I decided to post something I had been too scared to publish it as its so painful and but today I decided to press publish and write about the day my life changed forever & the death of a parent.
So here you go, the day my mum died.
On June 26th 1993 I was 16. I had a great life for a teenager & lived with my parents in Penzance, Cornwall. I’d go the beach every weekend with my friends, go out teenage drinking to the Admiral Benbow every Saturday night. I had a job working in Olivers the high street shoe shop for a few extra pounds, to pay for the Saturday night drinks! My GCSE’s had just finished and felt like I had done well. I had a long summer ahead of me with no school or much to focus on. A-levels were next in the September.
Waking up early on that morning of the 26th June my life would change forever. I had the attic bedroom, great to have my friends over for make up/drinking preparation for going out on the town. It had the most perfect view of St Michael’s Mount and Mounts Bay.
My sister was shaking me to wake me up, strange as my sister lived in a different house. Then it struck me we had been at the hospital the night before as my mum had fallen ill. She has been rushed to hospital by ambulance, we all followed and were eventually let in to see her in intensive care. He was hooked up to all the machines and we were told she had had a heart attack. She was alive, I spoke to her, and she nodded her head when I said I would see her tomorrow.
Tomorrows chat never came.
My sister was waking me up to tell me that mum had had another heart attack in the night and had died. It is really strange to reflect back now on 23 years ago and think of the feelings I felt that day. To be honest I remember very little. I remember my sister, 21 years older than me, climbing into my bed and cuddling me for what felt like hours. It wasn’t fair to expect an older sister to tell her 16 years old child of a sister that their mum had just died.
I suppose that was the day I became an adult.
I don’t remember my dad at all that day. Maybe he just retreated into his normal quiet, uncommunicative, unemotional mode in his shock? I do remember my sister going into organisation mode all day trying to sort everybody and everything out. I had to get out, so I got dressed and went to work, in the shoe shop.
It was Mazey day that day, a Saturday, I will forever hate that annual Penzance event. The high street was covered in palm tree leaves and decorations. I walked into the shop went straight to my manager and told her that my mum had died but I was coming to work. She sat me down, gave me a cup of tea and sent me home again.
I called my best friends to tell them. I remember saying to them, “Is your mum with you?”. Ironic that I asked them that just before telling them my mum had just died. I went through the script and there were many tears. It’s such an alien conversation to have that your mum has just died, a complete surprise and shock to the system. Mums don’t die when you are 16, before boyfriends, GCSE results, A-levels, university, first jobs, more boyfriends, marriage, children.
My friends did the best thing they could and we decided to stick to our original plans of Saturday night drinking at the pub to take my mind off it. It didn’t of course and I was a blubbering mess by 11pm after a few ciders. It was a lovely thing of my best mates to do to bring some normality into my day. I remember feeling glad I could walk into a pub and no one know what had happened that day, I didn’t have to explain yet to anyone that my mum had died.
That day and the days that followed were again memories I have chosen to block out. I know we had problems finding my older brother and had to get Interpol to find him. He was on a boat somewhere in the Med, that’s all we knew. He was eventually located and he flew back to London. On day three I drove up to Heathrow with my sister and her boyfriend to collect him. My dad was really angry. Angry because his wife of 38 years had just died, but took out that anger on my brother for the trouble we had in trying to locate him.
My school leavers prom was in the week following mums death. My sister again rallied to make me a dress, a rough silk emerald green off the shoulder prom dress. She made it in one day from a pattern. I had been seeing a guy for a few months before mums death, but we had split up a few weeks before. But he took me to the prom, he arrived at my house in his suit and tie from Burtons.
We had photos taken in from of the beautiful red dahlias in the garden. He held my hand as we walked around the ball room of the Queens hotel. Everyone knew by then that my mum had died, so there were a lot of hugs and I am so sorry to hear your news. We danced to the 1993 music, we slow danced to Boys to Men. I cried. We got back together that night. I needed someone to have contact with, someone to hug and hold my hand. I will forever be thankful to him for being there.
The depths of despair between death and the funeral dragged on for a few days I think we had the funeral maybe 6 days later on Friday 2nd July. It was a big Wimbledon day and I remember Andre Agassi playing. And I remember it being really hot. I wore my only black dress and we got in the funeral car for the drive to St. Just church for the funeral, the village my mum grew up in.
We sat at the front, I remember looking around and seeing all the faces, shocked that someone so caring, warm, friendly could have passed at the young age of 58. I remember seeing my best friends at the back with their mums, and feeling so glad they were there for a cuddle at the end. I sat next to my sister and dad, and my sister held my hand all throughout it. That’s all I remember.