Celebrating Mammy on International Women’s Day
We don’t give thanks enough for the wonderful women who are part of our daily lives, the mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, daughters, every one of the females who contribute in some way to the way we are.
Today is International Women’s Day, and it’s the first without my beautiful mother in law Nellie Gallagher. We lost her 6th of December 2022 from Cancer, she was 72, and it only hit me this morning how much she meant to me. Not that I haven’t missed her before, but today struck a chord that she would never have seen herself as the superhero she was. She would have laughed and rolled her eyes and told me to ‘cop on’.
We had a special relationship, more than daughter in law/ mother-in-law, we were friends who had no problem telling each other exactly what we thought, sometimes not agreeing but never falling out. She was only fourteen years older than me, I’m ten years older than my husband, and from day one we respected each other. The first thing she said to me was that with all my husband’s relationships she had judged the girl, but he obviously loved me so she was not going to do that with me. It might seem a bit of an odd thing to say but for a woman who had just been divorced and had literally lost all self-esteem, she showed me trust and that was huge.
Never once in the 24 years of knowing her did she ever tell me what to do, we were more like friends that could talk about family and compare notes, sharing secrets and stories that she wouldn’t have with others. I feel privileged to have been a confidante when she needed one, brought into the inner circle she shared with only one other, who is also passed on.
Mammy worked all her life, a mother to ten children, married for 54 years to Daddy who had loved her since she was ten, grandmother to 19, great grandmother to 2, carer to her sister Mary, and step grandmother Maura, friend, babysitter, strength, and backbone to the lot of us loved by all who knew her. She always had that beautiful smile on her face and the glint of mischief in her eyes. One of a kind.
There are not enough words to even begin to describe who she was, she would sit with me after work and tell me stories of her youth and the things she and her siblings got up to, things that wouldn’t even be interesting to kids now, but to them were the greatest pranks going. We shared stories of her parents, stories of her grandparents and the lives they lived before there was any help from the state for struggling families. She was my link to a past I never even considered, being from Liverpool it all seemed Victorian how they had had to fight for every mouthful put on their plates. A link that I should have taken the time to record and write down for posterity, but I never did. There was always tomorrow, but the trouble with tomorrow is it never comes. And regret doesn’t change the fact she is gone.
Tears are streaming down my face as I write, this is the first time grief has come for the right reasons, remembering a woman who was so humble, gave everything she had to others to make their lives easier, suffering so much pain for years and when doctors finally began to listen and do something about it she had no time left. She had a massive stroke St Stephens Day 2021, and for the first time in forever there had been no gathering of family on Christmas Eve, Covid saw to that, we had spoken on the phone and the last thing she said to me was that I needed to be careful because I wasn’t well. The next time I saw her was after rushing over to be with her as we waited for the ambulance, the whole family assembled, crying, terrified of losing her. As I held her up on one side as she slumped on the chair, I saw the light going, it was as if she was closing a door to us, she never recovered fully. She lost her speech and ability to walk, we were all separated from her for months, a family in distress at losing its matriarch. I am ashamed to say I couldn’t visit her when she came home, it broke my heart to see her so fragile and stuck in a bed, so I stayed away with all the excuses we find when it hurts too much to face the truth.
The last time I saw her at home I knew she wasn’t here for much longer, she hugged me with her head and shoulders and that look of goodbye and thanks connected with me. She passed two weeks later. I’m luckier than most, as a psychic medium I still get to see her and speak to her. She visits family in dreams, stays close to Daddy at all times but there is no excuse for the missed chances to see her, to record her life to be more thankful and celebrate how wonderful she was.
So today I urge all women to make the effort to celebrate with our special females and do it now, because tomorrow never comes and regret weighs heavier than any weight you could imagine.