January 25, 2017 posted by littlewhitecottage

Another book of life closes…

Last year my estranged mother died. She died in the house of a man she’d known for 2 years in a country we were surprised to find her in. She died of smoking related issues but wasn’t expected to die imminently.

I’ve written about the confusion and anger I felt at the time. The realisation that I was never going to have that apology that I’d hoped I’d get, never get that explanation of why what happened happened and the sudden realisation that this was it: her book had closed after the last words in her final chapter.

I didn’t cry at her funeral. The priest comforted a non-related person to my mother but just shook mine and my brothers’ hand. A hymn that was played at her mother’s funeral made me more sad than the coffin with the picture in front of me.

Walking out to see the sum total of her tributes was 1 tiny florist’s arrangement and a garage bought (still with price on) bunch of flowers.

That was huge.

That smacked me in the face.

To have only people who you’ve known for 2 years at your funeral, to not have your sisters, sister in law, nieces and nephews (or any friends) and to have your 3 children smartly dressed not even shed a tear really does show what kind of a person you were when living.

How do you get over that?

Or at the very least how do you come through it?

How do you drive home with your brother and have the most enormous hugs from your children – her grandchildren who’ve never met her – knowing what she gave up and what she walked away from.

It’s been a hard year certainly.

So how am I able to be sitting on my sofa with my snoring border terrier next to me feeling that it’s actually okay?

What I’ve learned is that you can’t hold grudges, keep the nastiness within or you can take a deep breath and exhale all of the badness of the situation. I cannot change what has happened and, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have changed a thing in the past. I am here because she is who she was and because of the choices she made.

I choose not to make those same choices. I choose not to drink, not to leave my family and to not put any man first above my children. I choose to stick it out no matter how hard some days are. I choose to be honest and open about her. I answer the questions my children have and I accept that my daughter will never say the word ‘Grandma’ with love.

I choose to not pass her bitterness down through the generations. My children know of her and the reasons as to why she wasn’t in their life (they knew before she died too). I explained she had chosen a different path and that I and my brothers were not part of her decisions. My children were confused as that’s not what Mummies do.

Getting a copy of her Will was the final moment for me. This was her last conversation with those she would leave behind. I thought there would maybe be letters for my brothers and me but no, nothing. She left a simple will with simple instructions that made me snigger. After all her last expenses were paid any money left over was to go to Great Ormon Street hospital.

Her final gift was to look after children.

Which, when you think about it, is kind of ironic as she didn’t want to look after her own.

Still, it’s the final words in the final chapter of her book.

I forgive you, mum.

But I will learn from you and be a better mother.

It’s okay really, I understand some relationships are just not meant to be…



  • A very touching read, thank you for sharing. I too am estranged from my parents and sister, for different reasons to you but there is still a divide that has been for decades and I now have no desire to patch up. At one time maybe but not now. As I’ve grown older (47!) I’ve come to realise that I have no influence on other people’s actions, I can only voice a true opinion and hope to be valued or at least, respected for my beliefs, values etc. If people choose to treat me disrespectfully then, as long as my conscience is clear and I’ve done my best, it is all I can do. I hurt no one if at all possible and try to give as much as possible. Conscience clear, what more can we do? Finally I am at peace with myself and I note that I’m calmer, sleeping better, and react far more objectively than perhaps I used to.
    Peace to you, I very much enjoy your blogs, I found you via your sewing but have been inspired by your thought provoking comments and blogs. Keep writing! X

  • You are very brave Emma, being able to forgive is wonderful. I was really touched by your words, I am having trouble with my son who doesn’t want to know me and has cut me out of his life and wont let me see my grand-daughter Rose (she is 3 now and I have never met her). I don’t know what I have done to him, but this is his choice and there is nothing I can do about it. My mum tries to find out what the problem is but he just says that he will stop her seeing Rose if she keeps asking. I just pray that one day I will be able to find out what I have done and although I cannot change the past we can move forward and I will be able to meet my grand-daughter. Bless you and I am glad to see that you are being positive. x

  • Well done Emma.

  • And yet your simple photo with your children speaks volumes. Their open body language and natural smiles are testimony to your relationship with them. Well done for not letting the cycle continue. If you do only that then it’s already enough. Xxxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Facebook Comments