Today I cried and then I smiled

6 Apr

Eight years ago today, I was sat beside my Mum, Jaki’s, hospital bed holding her hand as she lost her fight with Pancreatic Cancer. Her ravaged body barely rippling sheets, I remember it like it was yesterday, every moment right up until the end. People always tell you that the grief gets easier over time, this is a beautiful lie, my pain today is the same as it was back then. It’s just no longer an open wound, but an ache in my heart that I carry around with me every day, I wouldn’t trade this pain for anything. But this is NOT a post about pain or about death, that is not what my Mum would have wanted; I told her I was proud of her when she was in the hospital, she told me to stop being so bloody morbid. So this is not a post about death, it’s a post about life, my Mum’s life, it is a celebration of that.

It’s funny the things we remember…

I remember she used to make up a flask and picnic for me and my best mate Mark even though we were only going round the block and would never be more than 200 meters from our house.

I remember she’d watch me and my little brother like we were made of gold and the look in her eyes, drenched with love and pride that we were her sons.

I remember her making me Snowballs at Christmas, my first tastes of alcohol.

I remember the way she used to laugh, without restraint, and the way it would to light up her face, I used to love making her laugh.

I remember she used to come and watch me play Rugby; even though she hated the game and thought I’d only end up getting hurt, which I mostly did, she’d be there on the touchline cheering me on.

I remember the efforts she went to to teach me a moral code that I spent so much time rebelling against in my teens but a code that I now try to live by every day of my adult life.

I remember her faith, belief in a God that I’ve never found, but that gave her strength.

I remember every time I let her down, the momentary dimming of her adoration was often more than  punishment enough for my transgressions. I remember the warmth of her forgiveness.

I remember she used to hate just about every girlfriend I ever brought home, listing the reasons it would not work out…she was mostly right, though often for the wrong reasons.

My Mum was the first person to recognise I had talent as a writer and encouraged me to read widely, she is one of the reasons that I still write today. I always had the desire to write, but my Mum (my Dad too) spent hours reading the things I wrote and time thinking of comments on them, to try and help me. She used to swell with pride that she could not hide when I used to talk about length about how one day I’d be a famous writer. She would listen to me ramble on and then smile, telling me that she had no doubts that I could do and be anything that I put my mind to.

My Mum wasn’t perfect, she had a temper on her, there was a fiery intensity, I have that immutable fire burn inside me too. We used to fight a lot, it wasn’t until I was much older that I realised most of our fights stemmed from our similarities, not our differences. She did not want an easy life if that meant not doing what she thought was right; I have that too and it gets me in trouble from time-to-time just as it used to do for her, I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I stand up and challenge something I think is wrong (I certainly don’t always get it right) I can feel her words coming out through my open mouth and it is these times I feel closest to her now that she has gone.

I’m not happy with this post, perhaps I will add to it over time, perhaps I won’t. The memories flow so quickly that it’s hard to pick them out and focus on a single one long enough to write it down, but this is the problem with a flawed post written by a pillar of salt. We are not intended to look back too much, we lose focus on the present, but today I cried and then I smiled, remembering my Mum.

I love you mum.

I miss you…

Eva Cassidy – Fields of Gold

Check out the great work work done by the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Cancer Research UK, two charities very close to my heart.

I’m adopted and you can hear me talking about my adoption on my Audioboo account


4 Responses to “Today I cried and then I smiled”

  1. kate Goodall April 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Made me cry that did Paul. I know what you mean about not being happy with the post; how can we ever perfectly capture all of the wonderfully unique qualities and foibles of that special person? Probably we can’t, and if we try too hard the heart-felt quickly typed words would lose passion and meaning.

    Really lovely tribute.


  2. Nikki Howard April 7, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    Lovely memories – I remember her brushing my hair and having a huge knot underneath that I wouldn’t let my mum touch she told me to stop being silly and made me sit there for an hour while she got it out it hurt like hell! I also remember her telling me off for miming words to you when you were learning to read and beautiful long walks where we used to take a picnic – so many great memories xx



  1. If You only ever read one post, let it be this one. « Paul Coxon's moments - May 19, 2012

    […] rate, which is the same as it was 40 years and Maggie Watts wants to do something about that. My mum died of pancreatic cancer, I saw first hand how quick it kills so I’d like to help do something about that. Sign the […]


  2. What I believe: On Religion « Paul Coxon's moments - July 14, 2012

    […] of religion, I’ve seen it’s power at work, first hand I’ve seen a benefit. My Mum faced death and was empowered by her religion, was not afraid. My Mum truly believed her God had designs for […]


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