|Mum and Dad at their engagement party (1960 - I think)|
My lovely Mum is 70 today. She doesn't look it, in fact, she doesn't even look anything close to it! (Naturally I'm very much hoping that these are genes I might have inherited!).
Born during wartime, Mum was evacuated, first to Yorkshire, then when her Mum, my Nan, wasn't happy there, they went to stay with family in Oxford. Old loyalties clearly linger as to this day Mum still supports the dark blue of the Oxford team in the Boat Race! They then returned to Walthamstow, East London, where she stayed until moving out to Essex in 1998 - a huge change but one which Mum always says she doesn't regret even for a second - this city girl is now very much at home in a more rural setting!
Mum would probably tell you that she's never really done anything, or achieved anything - but I (and the rest of the family I suspect) would have to beg to differ there. She learnt Welsh years ago, simply because she had a penfriend living in North Wales and wanted to be able to converse more easily with her. She taught herself to draw, and produced some really rather lovely efforts in pastels and even watercolours - before her own high standards lead her to give up as she didn't feel she was "good enough". She followed a family tradition of learning to sew and indeed earned her living like that when I was small - working on piecework rates from home for a garment manufacturer. She drove forward a family fundraising appeal for Guide Dogs for the Blind. This started when I was about 8 wanting to raise money to pay for the upkeep of a Guide Dog puppy - a sum of £250. By the time she gave up fundraising some years later that original aim had translated into thousands of pounds, all raised by selling used postage stamps which we persuaded people to donate, organising bring & buy sales, and persuading Dad and I to go out collecting with a "Guy" for bonfire night - something which all on its own contributed several thousand pounds of our total. Whether it was painstakingly sorting through sacks and sacks of stamps, or encouraging me in "sponsored something or anothers" - she gave it her all. When I learned to drive in 1991 seeing that I could do it was the confidence boost she needed to follow suit and do the same - something which absolutely revolutionised her life. (I did get the edge though - passing my test first time when Mum needed a second attempt!) I'm very proud that I inspired her to go for it! She'd tell you that she can't cook too - but I remember some fabulous meals when I was growing up - she makes toad in the hole far better than mine, and her roast potatoes are honestly the best I've eaten.
It always make me smile when you hear people talking about Pensioners knowing nothing about technology - Mum's a huge fan of all things techie, and got an iPhone before I did! If I need to know a short cut to something on the computer keyboard, or how to make the iPhone do something in particular, she's usually my first port of call as there's a more than decent chance she'll know the answer. Twitter and Facebook are regular haunts of hers too - I love seeing pictures she tweets from their walks! She hates being bored and can think of nothing worse than being stuck in the house staring at the TV - most days she and my Dad can be found out for a walk somewhere across East Anglia or even down on the Kent Coast. She's a fine advocate of the "Easy Maintenance" garden as well as she loves looking at the garden but hates having to spend masses of time weeding, pruning and fiddling with it - so dense planting that the weeds don't show much in is the name of the game!
Mum is braver than she thinks - when my Dad had his heart attack and subsequent bypass operation earlier in the year she held up and stayed strong when so many other people would have crumpled into a heap. She's been through a lot, and come out the other side smiling. She knows masses of stuff about a lot of things, and is the person whose opinion I trust almost beyond all others.
Happy Birthday Mum - love you! xxx