A tribute to two very special Mothers
Less than a year after writing ‘Ten hopes for the Tens’, in which I expressed a hope that my parents would still be around in the year 2020, I came close to losing my Mother.
During a horrific 3 month stay in hospital at the end of 2010 where the doctors battled to control a massive flare-up of Crohn’s disease, she told me on more than one occasion that she wanted to die. That was an awful thing to hear from someone who has resolutely fought against ill-health for much of her life. Once again I am very grateful to the NHS for saving her, adding to its track record of saving my Father several times too.
Mother’s Day 2011 took on new significance to me as it was the first time in well over six months that my Mother looked vaguely like her old determined self. A year on, I am now thanking Mum for helping to save me.
Have I been close to dying? Well … no closer than anyone else on an average day. But … times are undoubtedly tough – the toughest I have known them in the workplace and compounded by reaching a new low during the start of this year in my personal battle with hearing loss – an ongoing challenge that is already well documented on this blog.
Throughout this rocky patch, my elderly parents have been extremely supportive and my Mother has been there for me every step of the way trying to instil the ‘don’t give up’ approach that has kept her going against adversity for much of her life and had her white water rafting down the Grand Canyon at the age of 70.
So, on Mother’s Day 2012 I am giving thanks to my own Mother for her wonderful support but also thinking about how close I have come this year to losing another mother – the mother of my two daughters and my wife of nigh on 20 years.
It would not have surprised me if she’d wanted to throw in the towel after the worst start to a year we have had in our marriage. However, she has shown an immense degree of understanding and support to me while I have been struggling to find new, sustainable ways to earn a living – not least, becoming the main breadwinner while continuing to be dedicated to our daughters’ upbringing and well-being. I was so proud of her and my eldest daughter at Parent’s Evening this last week for the fantastic feedback we had from the teachers – and that is testament to my wife’s devotion to our children.
I am not a religious person but am finding some irony in the fact that I have been finding comfort in these tough times through the words of Gabriel – not the Archangel, but the wonderful music and lyrics of Peter Gabriel. I have always been a big fan of his, from the Genesis days through his peak as a solo artist in the 1980s to his current orchestral re-recordings in the New Blood album.
My favourite work remains one of his first titled albums ‘So’ from the mid 1980s and I have wonderful memories of seeing him in concert at Earls Court in 1987 during the ‘So’ Tour.
It was during this time that my Father was struggling to earn a living and then diagnosed with lung cancer and my Mother was imploring him not to ‘give up’. I remember listening to Gabriel’s duet with Kate Bush ‘Don’t Give Up’ and thinking how poignant the words were, particularly lyrics like this …
no fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted …
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs …
… rest your head
you worry too much
it’s going to be alright
when times get rough
you can fall back on us
don’t give up
please don’t give up …
If ever there is an anthem to my Mother and everything she has faced in her life, then it is ‘Don’t Give Up’. I love this particular live performance of the song on YouTube in which Gabriel duets with Paula Cole. Take a look, have a listen and read the lyrics here …
Fast forward over two decades and these exchange of words have become applicable in my own life, with my wife imploring me not to ‘give up’. However, it is another song from the So album that also comes to mind whenever I am with my wife – ‘In Your Eyes’ …
Love, I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are
… In your eyes
I see the light and the heat in your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in your eyes
For anyone facing difficulties in these tough times right now, I hope you are blessed with the levels of understanding and support I feel so lucky to be receiving from my Mother and my wife. Similarly, it’s worth listening to the wise words and uplifting music of people like Peter Gabriel who have the amazing talent to be able to articulate their own experiences in such creative and compelling ways.