In her early eighties now, Mum grew up in Bath during the war. Her home was bombed in the Blitz and she and her family were lucky to get away with their lives, although they lost everything else. I think facing the difficulties that living in those times brought has shaped people of her generation – Mum has always been someone who just gets on with things without complaint, always aware that, whatever happens, there is someone somewhere who is worse off.
There's a sense of fearless adventure in her too – before she married Dad, Mum took her little car on the ferry and then drove to Spain with a girlfriend – quite a holiday in those days! Also, we lived in Nigeria for a year in 1967 while Dad was working at a university there, just as the civil war was unfolding – she defended a man who worked for us against a group of angry men wielding machetes who hated him merely because he came from the wrong tribe. She told them where to go in no uncertain terms! Later, as team manager for the GB women's modern pentathlon team (that I was a member of) she drove us in a minibus through communist East Germany to Poland for us to compete. We were carrying the pistols and live ammunition required for the shooting event, and the difficulties she faced with awkward and aggressive border guards are not something I would want to deal with now.
Mum never wants to put anyone out or ask for help, but conversely is always ready to go the extra mile for someone in need. She is creative (has handmade a multitude of beautifully crafted patchwork quilts) super-organised and capable of doing anything she puts her mind to. I think (or hope!) that some of her qualities have rubbed off on me, and I certainly see them in her granddaughter, my daughter Bex. There is an determined (or obstinate?) streak that runs through the family – particularly the female line. Don't get in the way if we're on a mission!
On Mother's Day this year Mum and Dad will be coming to lunch with us, hopefully with one or two of my brothers and their families and two of our three children – Billy gets excused as he will still be in Canada. I have always got on well with Mum, and never go for long without needing a chat with her. Dad jokes that we never stop talking, so much so that we both talk at the same time and he can't keep up. We reply that we can say twice as much, that way. It must have helped me in my job – listening to the producer in my ear while I'm talking to a guest on air!
Mum also has a habit of starting up a new subject out of the blue – no one has a clue what she's talking about, but somehow I just seem to know. Maybe that's part of the special mother-daughter relationship.
I could go on for ever about the other mother- daughter connection I have – I love spending time with Bex and see her often. The relationship changes as we both grow older, but it is always immensely rewarding – Olley and I are so proud of her and her achievements, but perhaps more importantly, we just love who she is. Of course, my love for her is not unusual, it's a love surely felt by every mother (for their daughters AND sons) but it's certainly a love that will continue to ensure the world keeps turning!!
With my very best wishes to you, mothers and all,