This week I finally got to see my mum for the first time since just before Christmas. As a family we totally understood that keeping Covid out of her Care Home meant that there would be new restrictions with the Omicron variant. The new rules allowed only one nominated visitor to see her once a week for half an hour and with one of my brothers taking on that role the only time I got to see and chat to my mum was on a Facetime call when he was there.
There were still lots of regulations before I could pop up to her room. I had taken a Lateral flow test that morning and registered the negative result on the Government website. When I got to the home I put on my face mask and plastic apron, completed a health questionnaire before having my temperature taken. I found myself waiting with another visitor and as I filled in the form of who I was and who I was visiting the lady looked down at the form and said…I was in school with you.
The lady was Tony Edwards’ sister and both she and her brother had been taught in Manselton Infants School by my mum. They had also been part of our Sunday School and Wednesday evening Band of Hope. We chatted for a moment about the good old days. Sunday School outings to Llansteffan where we would spend the day hiding from the wind and rain on the beach.
Tony’s sister went on to tell me that she had loved my mum. She would always tell her that she had lovely teeth. Its funny the things you remember that people say to you…good and bad!
My mum always seemed to have a saying for every occasion. From the, ‘He who expects little is rarely disappointed’ when I used to get overexcited at a snippet of good news to ‘This too shall pass’ when times were tough. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that before I left that afternoon I would again leave with something to think about.
This is Love from the album Butterfly
I had arrived bearing gifts. My mum had her 98th Birthday in January. I had dropped off a present and I had had a Facetime chat on the day, but I wanted to bring her something special. My brother Gareth had mentioned that mum had seemed to misplace a photograph of my dad. I had managed to find the original and get a framed copy made for her. When she saw it, she was delighted and asked me to pop it on her bedside table.
Then I got my phone out and showed her videos of her newest great grandchildren. They were born last autumn so haven’t had a chance to meet their Great grandmother, but it was wonderful to see her eyes light up looking at the next generation.
I asked how she was. She was honest about feeling sad but cross with herself when she felt she had so much to be grateful for as she looked back on her life. I told her that Lockdown has been damaging for all of us who tried our best to observe the rules. Trying to look on the bright side she said, ‘Well…this too shall pass’ …and I smiled.
We came to the conclusion that Spring was just around the corner and hopefully we will all get to be with each other again soon.
She has always worried about my choice of career. She wasn’t alone. Almost until my dad lost the ability to talk he would be on to me at every opportunity about getting my teaching diploma, so I’d have something to fall back on.
To prove to my mum, I was still working I got my phone out and started to show her my TV interview with Adrian Masters on the ITV Wales show ‘Face to Face’. She said I looked smart, although deep down I think she would have preferred if I’d worn a suit rather than the leather jacket and jeans.
I whizzed on a bit so she could hear me singing with my guitar and then stopped just towards the end of the show so she could see the credits. By chance I stopped at the part of the interview where Adrian asked me did I have more to do.
If you didn’t see the programme, basically all the way through the show I had dropped every name that I had worked with during my career, from Elton John to the Bee Gees, Cliff Richard and Carolyn Harris MP. It’s been an interesting ride, but Adrian seemed surprised when I said that I felt there was the one thing I hadn’t done. I didn’t know what it was, but I was sure that it was out there somewhere, and I would continue striving for it until it happened, or I ran out of steam.
Now for a man who probably has more years behind him than in front that might seem strange, but it is the way I feel about life.
It was then my mum turned to me and said, ‘You are immortal until your work is done.’
I stopped for a minute and looked at the little old lady dressed in her best cardigan smiling at me. I asked her to repeat what she had said. This what she told me, that, she said, was something Dat used to say.
Mam and Dat ( I think Dat must have been around the same age as I am now)
My grandfather George Griffiths, or Dat as we called him, had little formal education. He worked in the boiler rooms as a stoker on a merchant ship during the First World War before becoming a miner. He has lost his job in the depression of the 30’s and been a member of the Home guard in World War 2. But all the way through he had read and studied. I think that’s why so much store was placed on education in my family. He had led the weekly Bible study in our little Gospel Hall and the margins of his Bible were full of pencil notes in meticulous, tiny handwriting.
He would pick up sayings from the Bible, and beyond, and bring them out at just the right time. That must have been where my mum had got it from. That ‘immortal’ quote has been attributed to lots of different people but for that moment it seemed to have been written especially for me. For that moment I didn’t feel quite so daft at thinking that I still have work to do.
Helen sent me this class photo after I posted a picture of my mum online. Wast to spot my mum is the teacher on the right. She has the same smile.
Just before I left I mentioned to my mum that I had bumped into Tony Edward’s sister in the foyer of the Care home. I asked did she remember them, the Edwards Family from Manselton. Again, her eyes lit up. There were so many lovely families in Manselton, The Roberts girls, the Mainwaring’s and the Edwards’. ‘Did you remember Tony mum’, I asked. Yes, she said and his sister…she had such lovely teeth.