Mothers and daughters are an interesting mix….  so much goes on and so often what goes on ends up being at the least tricky and at the other end of the scale just downright destructive!

Yoga encourages us to live in the moment and I truly do work towards that daily, BUT there is always my history beckoning me back.   Memories, or are they family stories that I’ve taken as being the full truth, inform how I am and how I believe even now in my 57th year of life.

It came to me how important my mother has been in my life even though she passed away in 1988 at the age of 64.   She and I had a difficult relationship.   The things that I now hold close to my heart about our time together though are many and varied.

I have only recently gone through various documents and photos that I collected from our family home on the death of our father 7 years ago and I was reminded of the woman that was my mother.

Her name was Ann, although some of the older family members called her Nancy which she hated.  She lived in Durham City and was brought up by her mother and ‘the two maiden aunts’ along with her two brothers.  Her older brother died young.

Mum, 2nd from right.
Trafalgar Square VE Day.

She left school at the age of 14 and worked for 2 years in a private library and booksellers in the city.  I remember her telling me how wonderful it was to have access to so many books.   She then went on to train in child-nursing and although I have references supporting an application to a day nursery, the next part of her life was spent in the army, in Ack-Ack.   Before leaving she spent time as a store woman but also completed a basic electrician’s course…. a good job as she was the one to change plugs and sort out fuse boxes in our house!

Ann on her wedding day September 4th 1954.

Only 2 women!

From 1947 to 1955 she worked as a police officer for Durham Constabulary where she met our father… and I would hazard a guess that working in such a male-dominated environment was difficult.

I was born later that year, 1955.   My feeling is that being a mother did not come easily to her and why would it?  She had been a working, independent woman with, for those days, a good salary which she used to buy clothes and Helena Rubenstein makeup! 

Hers is a story similar to many women of that generation in the UK.   She was physically strong and from her I learnt very early that women did not need men to move wardrobes and paint rooms!   She was strict about some things and I learnt very early on what was acceptable behaviour in her eyes.   I learnt to be the ‘good girl’ and that has been something of a challenge throughout my life.


Mum at my sister’s wedding..looking lovely.

My sister Sue was born in 1959 and Mum was perhaps a little more relaxed with this second, smiley, sunny baby but that’s my perception.  Sue may well disagree.

She did much with us.   I learnt about every wild flower and tree.   We baked together and walked dogs and as a family we laughed so very much.  She encouraged me to read and I do still, voraciously.


We walked, we talked,
We built sandcastles at Whitby.
We waded barefoot through icy streams,
We laughed a lot.
I cried and didn’t get the hug I needed.
Cakes were baked…lots of icing!
I grew and went away,
In Africa I became her grown up daughter,
I knew how it was to wander dirt roads and barter for potatoes.
She visited with Dad,
She blossomed, she laughed..a lot.
She seemed to love those wide-open skies and endless views,
This wonderful land,
Just like her eldest daughter.
She was at home picking mulberries, collecting fallen avocados,
And feeding a litter of bedraggled puppies.
She left me happy.

Mum, me and my daughter, Katie, aged 1 year old.

I have my own daughter and I understand more about my own mother as a result.   She supported me in the best way she could.   The memories of her colour how I have walked my path.   She was not an easy person and not easy to love but she was my Mum and there are many things in my life that I wish I could have shared with her.

I and my sister have been without Mum for over 20 years and it would be easy to dismiss all that she was to me.  Indeed, I fought hard against her influences even when she lived.  Many years ago I spent two years in therapy with The Wise Woman, Maye.   A major part of that process was acknowledging and honouring those things my mum had taught us and all that she shared with me.  From her I learnt boundaries and understood completely the word NO!  There was no iffing and butting, no, we’ll see or maybe…  I was brought up to respect others and myself.  When my daughter was born I saw her in a different light…she was patient, loving, compassionate and so wise.   She adored this wonderful child and was a huge support to me.

I feel strongly that our history is important and perhaps understanding and remembering gives us more courage and strength to breathe and feel who we truly are even for just a moment.

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