Thursday, 27 August 2015

An unexpected gift from my mum

My mum died in 1997. She was 66, and far too young to go. I had three young children at the time and although she was everything a grandma is meant to be – supportive, loving, kind, and fun – family life left little time for us to just sit and chat, about her.

Our shared history meant I knew who she was anyway; she loved books, and reading, and telling stories to her grandchildren. She had a great imagination and a wonderful sense of humour. She trained at RADA to be an actor, then went into teaching and used her training to produce wonderful plays in the school where she worked. Her imagination was always at work – as a mum, a teacher, a friend.

My mum's actual
handwriting!
That’s the mum I knew. What else did I need to know?

Eighteen years later, I’ve discovered something else; something I wish I’d known back then. My mum wrote stories.

In the process of clearing out the family home recently, in amongst the piles of paper and drawers full of memories, I discovered pages and pages of my mum’s handwriting; the beginnings of two stories, very Alan Bennett in style and humour, but my mum’s voice is loud. Her words reveal so much: her sense of humour, her love of people, her insight into why people behave as they do, and a little bit of mystery. It is all typically Mum, and yet I had no idea she wrote anything like this.

I'd have liked the chance to sit down with her and discuss writing. I'd have liked the chance to share our stories with each other. I'd have liked to have got to know her as a writer. But instead, I have her stories...or at least, the opening scenes of her stories. And short of channelling my mum in a bid for some kind of spiritual intervention, I will never find out what happens next.

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