Mum knew the importance of sport and supported any familial interest in it. She herself had once been the hockey Captain, that quick left winger that attracted the interest from the Northumberland hockey team, and the toast of the town having scored 2 goals for the convent against the RGS in Berwick upon Tweed!! Unheard of!! She may have even influenced me to play left wing for the football teams that I played for too!?!I think that was the first time of many team- wide occasions where mum excelled in sport and out of it that made her the champion she was!! But mum was no bragger and she had skill sets that she took from sport right through-out her life! Richard would say 'know your markets' , mum would say 'trust yourself '! remember Mum used to pick me up from football training and drop fellow teammates along the way, whilst driving in the night even though she hated night driving, having had a full day on her feet teaching, having to make the family meal, preparing the next day's lessons and yet still venture into the darkness???!! She had such incredible stamina, and in her way, she wanted perhaps to inherit how her father used to watch mum play hockey and give the same assurances and consolation when things didn't go well!
Positive life force
Mum was always a glass half-full inspite of a certain shyness, but I think that was more nurture than nature. Why? When you're told that your mother might not survive an intrusive untried operation and you're not old enough to process that information, you have little choice but to survive on optimism, conceal your doubts but work your way through. As for her shyness? I think mum like everybody else had her insecurities to multi-task with. But I do think that she was intimidated by her academically quite brilliant sister (Maureen) as well as having an Uncle (Uncle Peter) the Priest, who was sent to Rome to translate some Latin, Greek, Aramaic etc precious texts because of his unique mind !! So, those were pretty big footprints to follow ! Of course mum was strong-willed but also powerfully intuitive and decisive, capable of seeing through what dad would miss ! Ironic isn't it, that mum could assess a situation and disguise her process with a smile or her wry sense of humour!?!! She was also very discrete in the ups and downs of life, and she would recognise that I've failed every academic exam I've ever sat (I even failed part of my Finals), but mum knew not to be heavy-handed when commiserations might become too public or patronising even when well intended. How ?! Because she'd suffered the same thing too and knew how humiliating it can be especially when you have to suck it all up and be 'grateful' !? But when things did turn out right, mum was true and lavished praise and love too ! When I left playing sport, mum would always remind me of the good times and successes that I'd had, but gently nurture me away from the angry young man that I was ! But I think that she trusted me with her more philosophical range ....." As long as Stephen is rebelling, he's alright with the world !!".... I wonder who I got that from ??! Mum you were the Queen of constancy yet also refusing to be defined or controlled by socially limited imagination !! ? Is that too much ? No ! Look at the photo on the front of the 'Order of service' ?!! Doesn't she look like she embraced life ?!!!!
Mum was a great believer and a woman of profound religious faith. But she also continued to trust my meanderings, even when was constantly sent out off the classroom by my teachers and report to the headmaster etc. But I am most grateful for her support because she reassured me that because I was a rebel (and I have rebelled against virtually everything in my time) that was my job! She once said that "Stephen is fine if he is still rebelling against something! “. Now, I am not a follower and probably not that good at leading others, but I am a rebel, it’s just that I gave up mohawk haircuts and attitude for jeans and a less angry outlook! But she would smile that would tell me 'embrace it .... just don't bring it home with you!'
Mums relentlessness and dad's committed nature is and was restorative, but she was not a super confidence type and mum and dad would acknowledge that together they weren't 'timorous wee beasties' from the indulged South, but implacable and resolute! in fact Mum would become 'the Hulk without the green dye', and you do not get in mum's way when she was either defending something or protecting someone! I once saw her front up to someone who had crossed a line and she rose up and called the individual a 'hypocrite!' But she didn't get fierce for herself but as a team player! There was only room for one football team in her house, or you'd got to have a bloody good excuse if not! You do not cross the metaphorical picket line or grass someone up! Her 3-line whips were clear and unambiguous! We are a team that never betrays and never gives up one of our own even if we do favour one player over another!
Beautiful Mum! What a stunner! Yet although she always looked very chic, she didn't judge books by their cover! Yet did she make a song and dance about it?! She had great human compassion for children's issues and never wavered in her supporting the charity 'smile train' which dealt with 3rd world kids that were horribly scarred with cleft-palettes etc She believed in fair play for all kids and her constancy of defending state education, (regardless of your politics) has to be seen as a significant preparedness to get stuck-in!
6th sense of Teamwork
So here's the secret to mum and dad's marriage - teamwork in spite of the fact that they are opposites that attract ! Even their vows were based upon the very connection they made to each other - 62 + years of finding ways to reinforce a very successful marriage because they had different skill sets that reaffirmed them as a couple, and as a team ! Besides, of course dad would try to apologize by blaming mum for it, and mum would see through it, but did she let-on to dad ??No chance ! Mum would be very gracious in being right and dad was very gracious at not being wrong ! But mum's mother (Nana) was less subtle when there was a disagreement between Nan and mum, Nana would say "You're wrong !" Now when mum had cooked us all a superb roast, Nana would thank dad and not mum for the meal !! So mum learnt that she had to be both host and guest in her own house when Nana was in town!!??! Not many people could actually keep their cool under such provocation, but mum could ! But I suspect that mum would find a way to spin it towards her own favour without having to carry it around in her head ! Mum wasn't just able to multi-task at will, she was also a canny lass too ! But she was also humble in her contribution to their marriage, and she once told me how lucky she was that out of all the competition, " Mike chose her!"???!! Now mum was a beautiful woman with a minute waist(go see the family video of their wedding) but whilst she knew she attracted the men (Richard my brother always likened her to Jackie Kennedy) but at no time was she ever vain about it !! Well mum although no man can stop time and the ageing process , you seemed independent of the ravages of time ! Instead, " Age cannot wither nor custom stale your infinite" ability of not acting like the Prima Dona. As a child mum wanted to be a ballet dancer but never had the breaks to be on stage, but Luke (her eldest grandson) has inherited the Acting vocation, and mum(Nana) was tickled pink that the baton has been passed-on!
Mum knew her onions! She knew that canny way of smiling and getting what she wanted., but she was very selective about it, and she'd pick her moments strategically! She once frog-marched me into a well-known bank and put on her most southern posh accent to convince the bank manager to open a bank account for me, in spite of my disorganised self and my weather-beaten appearance.! She was also a realist rather than a cynic in this and many other instances.