My relationship with my mum summed up is ‘non existence’. I think we have both accepted that we don’t get on and that’s ok. So you can imagine my surprise when she messaged me saying she was taking me away. The first thought in my head ‘how am I going to cope being in her company for a long period of time’ harsh I know. We just don’t agree on much and we are very different people, with very different views on life. I often joke that I’m adopted but most people who know us will agree apart from the same hair and eye colour we are nothing alike.
Enough of the emotional stuff! So the trip started with getting a taxi to the library at a cost of £5.50 my mum gave him £10 and told the taxi driver to keep the change…I nearly fainted. See when we order takeout and it’s £19.60 she will wait for that 40p change. What is going on! I eagerly anticipate what is going to pick us up or where we are going. A coach arrives and I get on. Now the whole coach is full of people no younger than 70. This is going to be a great trip. I’m already annoyed that I’ve had to cancel 2 beauty appointments and miss out on seeing someone I really wanted to see to be here. Well time to try and embrace in chats about hearing aids and crosswords.
As the coach headed south, I engaged in polite conversations with fellow passengers. Most of them assumed I was 16 and on break from school so I kindly informed them of their inaccuracies and began to tell them my story. The thing about people in their 70s is they are always full of stories (or so I thought). We arrived in Cardiff and had a few hours before we went for dinner so I had a wonder around the hotel trying to work out if I was happy Cardiff was the secret destination.
To my relief at dinner a couple asked to sit with us. This meant I could just sit back and let my mum engage in conversation with them and I wouldn’t have to do the whole nodding my head thing. They told us about places they had travelled and people they had met. To my surprise their fondest memories of their life were not travelling to China but watching their grandchildren dance around the garden. I was enjoying this couples company until the waitress got the mans order wrong, she apologised and offered him something else but he wouldn’t accept and starting listing the 10 commandments to her. I escaped to the toilet in order to avoid telling him how rude I thought he was.
The day after we wondered around Cardiff and the castles. It was a beautiful place and although not much to see I’m always interested in people’s behaviour and how different people live. It was very similar to my town people rushing around no one looking particularly happy.
It was time for dinner again and I prayed this couple would not sit with us. My mum invited them over and let’s just say if looks could kill she would be on the floor. I distanced myself from the conversation and just sat and observed everyone around me. I noticed a woman on the trip sitting by herself at dinner and it made me feel so sad. I asked my mum to go and talk to her. I wondered over after and she started to tell us that her mum had recently died, she had never been away because she cared for her most of her life. I was so shocked by this, she had sacrificed her whole life to look after her mum yet I didn’t even want to give up a few days to be with mine.
That night we went swimming and I made a conscious effort to be nice to my mum engaging in conversations that interest her and asking her questions. This total stranger had completely changed my mindset.
The morning after before we travelled back I realised we had spent three whole days together without one argument. We had laughed and joked, this was the first trip away just me and her, the first time I had allowed myself to just be happy in her company.
Although the purpose of the trip was for her to list her long list of medical conditions to me I had taken much more from it. My sister once said to me ‘you just have to accept her for how she is’ and I finally understood what she meant by that. Yes she is judgmental, yes she is critical but seeing her make conversation with a woman so she wasn’t by herself, seeing her give up her seat for an elderly couple and listening to her jokes also reminded me she was kind and funny. Sometimes you can spend so much time resenting someone you forget to see the good in them. This trip reminded me of that.
I realised I had never really asked her about her life and as she began to tell me I realised how strong she was, how she sacrificed so much, sacrificed the love of her life to protect her children. When someone hurts me or I have to get over something I always tell myself I’m strong I can do this and I finally realised that strength comes from her.
It’s time to let go of the past and concentrate on how lucky I am to still have her in my life-I may even give her a hug from time to time.