Saturday, 22 January 2011


This morning at 4.30am the phone rang. I panicked. I felt my hair stand on end, every muscle tense and my throat constrict. I stretched out a hand but the bedside phone wasn’t there. It had been left downstairs by someone who hadn’t brought it back up again. A regular occurrence. It kept ringing as I ran up and out of bed and along the hall to the windowsill. 

I snatched up the phone and shouted ‘hello’. Then I cursed. It was one of those text messages where the robotic woman can’t say the words correctly. I could have cried. My heart settled down to a less hectic rhythm.  The bristles on my back fell flat. An empty feeling hit the pit of my stomach. And I cursed again. 

Then I became a little bit frightened. And I didn’t sleep again for hours. 

Any other day it might not have mattered so much. But you see, it’s a year today that my mum died. My Mam. She was always called Mam, we never said mum. But since she died, I can only think of her as mum. 

I found out from an early morning phone call. Not 4.30am but 7.30am. Or it might have been 8. 

I hate it when the phone rings early. Or late. It means death. Or bad news.  

It’s a year today. My mother.

When I tumbled out of bed, late, I had to investigate. I needed to know. 

Turned out the text message was from someone I knew after all. She’d had a good night out and had accidently texted my house phone rather than the person she had intended. It was o-k-a-y after all. 

And then, I looked at my three children. The eldest was still sleeping and I was happy to leave her there. They are now 15, 14 and 11 and I remember with clarity the times when they were 5, 4, and nearly 2. It was easy then. Ten years later, it’s harder than it ever was. They have a voice. They have opinions. They have their own lives. 

And when they scream at me, like my eldest daughter did yesterday, and the day before, and they tell me I’m old, I’m past it, I’m a has-been and that I don’t understand, as much as it might hurt inside, I can only smile. And realise. It is they that don’t understand. Not yet. And probably not until I die.

And the answer is simple. I can only love them. 


Oh. And write a story and call it Hag-Lit ; )


  1. A moving post. Children don't understand, and it's better that way. 'La vie n'est que quelques joies trop vite efface par d'inoubliables chagrins. Ce n'est pas necessaire de le dire aux enfants.' (Marcel Pagnol - sorry if it's inaccurate). Roughly translates as: Life is nothing more than a few joys too soon effaced by unforgettable sorrows. It's not necessary to tell this to children.

  2. I was so judgemental of my mother until I became a mother. Now I know how she felt - helpless while watching us make mistakes, hurt when we said mean things, sad when she saw us stumble, proud when she saw us achieve. And through it all, her love was constant.
    Like Leigh says - Children don't need too know about the few joys and unforgettable sorrows. We all learn that eventually.

  3. You are both right.
    And I don't doubt it is the same in most households.

  4. Great piece of writing, Sharon.

    I always go on high alert when the phone rings late at night or early morning - it's a harbinger of bad news for me, too. The number of times when I've sensed who the call will be about and been right is scary.

    I think I took the relationships with both my parents for granted until Dad wasn't there any longer, so now I make a point of both telling Mum how I feel about her and spending time with her. It took Dad's death to shake me up and get me to that stage though.

  5. Thanks Kath.
    It's all about the hugeness of the life cycle and the minutiae of everyday life I guess. If that makes sense.

  6. Yep, that makes total sense.

  7. You poor thing. That must have been awful. The last middle of the night phone call I had was to say my Dad had died and I remember exactly how it felt.

  8. i can so relate to this and thankyou for sharing! Nice to find your blog!