“You gave to me, all of my life to do as I please, I owe everything, I have to you.”
It’s a beautiful song. I believe Neil Reid sang the song and won the Opportunity Knocks contest with it in 1971. He was 12 years and 9 months old at the time. The record sold 2.5 millions copies globally.
I loved the song; so did my mum, and so did my stepmum, Carmel.
I remember the inner conflict I felt with the lyrics of the song, even at 11 years of age, though I didn’t understand the conflicting feelings, they were powerful, a rush of “yes” and “no” as each beautiful line fell from Neil’s mouth.
I still feel the “yes” and “no” as I sit here writing, and as my mum lays in a hospital bed in Preston, having suffered a massive and depleting stroke, just over three weeks ago.
I love my mum, but it wasn’t always easy to like her. She was my friend. She was someone I could talk to about anything and not be judged. She was open-minded, accepting of my quirks, my need to speak the truth, my attempts for us to have a real relationship, my independence from her and any control or say so that she might want to have over my life and choices; she gave up that right when she left me and my brother when I was around 5 years of age. . .
She never did try to control me. I imagine she was afraid to. I was fierce in my independence from her. It’s only now, as she lays paralyzed, without a voice, unable to eat or drink, dead but still breathing, that I realize the fierceness was my protection; protection from ever being abandoned by her again, loving her, always, with a wall between us, a coldness and detachment that kept me safe and her punished.
If she could take my call now, I would want to share this with her and she would listen, because I would preempt it as I always did when I needed to have a real conversation with her by saying, “mum, I need to talk to you,’ and she would respond, :well, go on then.” She would listen and I know she would be grateful that I was sharing these words with her. I believe they would somehow set her free of any guilt or shame she might have felt for leaving me. I could even fantasize that she might cry and offer a heartfelt apology and deep regrets for how that must have impacted me and my life, that she understands I’m realizing only now that because she left me, I have been searching my whole life for the love she took from me when she made the choice to leave.
There was a period of time during my childhood, and my mums absence, that I would go to a pay phone each Tuesday at 6pm and place a “transfer charges” call to her phone number. She would always answer the operator, “Blackpool 379472,” (not the exact number) and the operator would ask if she would accept the charges, and my mum would accept them and we would talk. I honestly cannot recall a word of the conversation, though I recall the feeling I always felt when my mums voice was on the other end of the phone. I wanted something from her. I needed something from her. It was deep in the pit of my stomach. It was an ache. A void. A longing; a grasping for something from her that could not be found or latched onto through the distance of the telephone lines.
January 1st 2023,
Since starting this blog post, my mum has passed away. She left the earth October 24th. I was with her, holding her, talking her into the next world, painting a picture of who would be waiting for her, how she would be able to dance now and be free from pain, my hand on her chest as she exhaled her last breath, taking with her the love I had longed for my whole life.