This is a dedication to your motherhood.
The summer’s come and gone again once already. It feels like a long time and no time at all.
Every time I look back over these photographs (and I look at them often) I return immediately to the hillside, to the sun-dappled woods and the memory of your family laughing together, pulling faces, blowing kisses – those moments flow back and make me smile. Broadly.
I’ve waited a long while to share these images. They mean a lot to me. They show a family I know well.
Your daughters, the girls I went to school with, one in my class (who came to my Wimpey burger birthday party where a mute man in a mascot suit danced around to delight us all), those girls have grown up and become mums themselves – to bright, brilliant daughters, who are beautiful and fun and full of character.
Your brave, handsome son, the solo boy, one among so many girls, the brother that surprised as all when he arrived. He has all the sweetness of his mum in him. He can be shy like you, in front of the camera, but in your arms that day he smiled so easily. A beaming smile that betrayed a missing front tooth. I remember that.
You created such an incredible thing Sue – a family. They have such a warm sense of humour too. They know exactly how to make each other laugh. The kids can squabble. Like all kids do. But it is quickly forgotten, and then they are back to climbing trees, creeping up on me, racing each other and giggling.
And the centre of all this, was you Sue. Their wonderful, kind Mum who laughed and smiled and cuddled and cared. Their Nan that spoiled her grandchildren with love – like all the very best Nans do. A sweet excess of love, always.
Just look at what you created Sue. Your brood. Your happy troop. Your beautiful family.
So today, on Mother’s Day, I wanted to celebrate motherhood. To champion our mums. The everyday role, that goes unnoticed, unrecognised, largely unrewarded. To stop for a moment and remember the very best of what motherhood is.
That is you, Sue. So kind, so caring, to her family, her friends. Ready with a smile for everyone, even when the day was a difficult one.
I grew up with you in my life, my Mum’s close friend. One of the few who could match her “episodes” (shall we call them that?), those moment of madness, a sort of daily silliness where you outdid each other. It could be general forgetfulness, saying the wrong thing at the right time, getting a bit lost, getting into scrapes at Tesco. I forgot the specifics. But I remember the laughter.
You’d visit, Mum would pop the kettle on, and I could hear you both laughing downstairs. Both childminders, loving the children you looked after, delighting each other with tales of toddler group tantrums. Chatting about everyday things, sharing family stories, and having exactly the right thing to say to each other when things were tough. And chuckling. Often. Always the laughing. Your face, like butter wouldn’t melt, but a naughty twinkle in the eye.
I thought I saw you in the bank the other day. She was the spit of you, with your shorter hair. But of course, it couldn’t have been you.
Once, when out with Mum, not so long ago when your hair was long, you were mistaken for her daughter. Am I remembering that right? Was it that they thought your son was my Mum’s grandson? I think that was it. The sort of incident that depressed Mum slightly, but made her laugh later. In my mind, I remember you always as the younger friend of Mum’s. Vibrant. Kind. A mother who loved and enjoyed her children, her grandchildren so much. That showed, Sue. I could see it shine out of you when you were with them. When you talked about them even.
And because of who you were, the mothering you gave, you raised a family that continue in the same way. You created daughters that have become the very best mothers themselves. They are kind. Caring. Full of laughter and love. You should be so proud.
Sometimes I think people get sidelined by dreaming of another type of life – one more glamorous, lived elsewhere. But in having known you, I saw that the ordinary life, of being a wife, a mother,a great, great friend, can be an extraordinary one.
You are so missed. But remembered every day. And loved even more.
Dear Sue, this is a dedication to your motherhood. And my mum’s. And to all mothers.