The Missing Mum Years

My childhood home

This is my dear late Mum’s house as it stands now. It was my childhood home until I married at twenty years of age and moved out. I’ve been reminiscing about this house over the last couple of days. One of my sisters had been back to visit there recently. Although she advised me against it, I asked her to share her photo with me. Big mistake! Huge mistake, in fact. It’s no longer how I remember it. Gone is the beautiful orange door (not that it’s visible in this picture) – it’s been replaced by a dull grey. The window frames have all been painted stark white over the original orange. Orange was Mum’s favourite colour. The steps outside are also not visible in this photo. The neat box hedge has completely overgrown, as has the glorious pink azalea shrub. I feel so sad. I shouldn’t have asked to see this photo. I should have known it would be different now, six years after losing my Mum. I still miss her so much. I always will.

The steps at the front of the house were a barrier for me for the last four years before Mum passed away. Being a wheelchair user now, there was no way I could climb them to get into the house. To make matters worse, Mum was severely agoraphobic, which meant she couldn’t leave there. It meant that we didn’t see each other for all that time. It broke my heart (and hers). We spoke on the phone a lot, especially towards the end. I would call two or three times a day to check she was okay. She mainly was as fit as a fiddle … until she had her stroke. Before that happened, she would vigorously mow the grass, raking it up, digging and planting flowers and tomatoes.

Those last four years were so painful. I didn’t feel sorry myself; I never did, but I felt angry and frustrated about my disability stopping me from seeing her. It was hard to come to terms with, and we missed each other terribly. The only time I got to see her in those last years was when, towards the end, she was admitted to hospital after her stroke. Hospitals are nearly always accessible. She was never the same after that happened. I wrote a post about this at the time. You can read about it at https://elliethompson.uk/2016/11/26/grief-without-death/.

I’m glad I can’t see the inside of the house; it must be so different now, and it would only upset me further. The kitchen was always my favourite room. The kitchen units were orange, as was her one-person teapot, which sat permanently on the side waiting to be filled. She loved her cups of tea and her toast and marmalade, which she’d have for breakfast every morning. After we lost Mum, there were all the usual formalities to arrange; the funeral, the interment, the house to sort out etc. My sisters came from various parts of the country to deal with all this, but I had no choice, being unable to go up those damn steps. My sisters were very kindly involving me as much as possible by taking pictures of everything, so I could decide what I’d like to have. I chose Mum’s little orange teapot. It reminded me so much of her.

Mum’s orange teapot sitting comfortably on my kitchen windowsill

I have a tradition now. Every year, on Mum’s birthday and on Mother’s Day, I take myself off to a quaint tea shop in my city. I order myself a pot of tea (I usually drink coffee) and some toast and marmalade. Sometimes, I order a slice of cake – Mum always enjoyed her cake. Having recently bought the loveliest card I could find in John Lewis, I sit for a couple of hours and write to her. I write it as a conversation between us, just as if she were there with me, drinking tea and eating toast or cake. It makes me feel closer to her at those times. I wish she were still here to join me. But, however much I write, it’ll never make up for those four years when I couldn’t see her. I missed so much of her later life. I think I’ll always miss her – the pain doesn’t lessen. Perhaps, it will in time.

41 thoughts on “The Missing Mum Years

  1. Wow, I wish you’d share those birthday conversations on your blog. I’ll bet they are some really open and honest writing. Can I be envious of your pain? I don’t seem to be able to feel emotions like that (good or bad) anymore. Probably related to my medication cocktail. I’m enjoying the story I’m telling in my brain about the new buyers and their unhappiness with all of the orange “What’s up with this lady anyway?” It’s so important to make a house your own. I believe it enhances living. When we moved into our house it had an ugly metal front door. We found the old ill-fitting glass and wooden door in the attic and swapped them out. We painted it red and used this epoxy glass paint to fill the windows with suns and lizards and western petroglyphs. When we go to sell our house, I’m certain people will say “What the hell?”

    1. Thanks for your comments, Jeff. Perhaps, my conversations will be my next post although I’m going to give some careful thought to that before I dive straight in. I think medication does dull your emotions. I’m also on a heck of a lot of meds too – some for physical ailments and others to keep me sane! I’m not always, you know!?

      It’s definitely an interesting way of thinking about my old home – the dissatisfaction of the new residents thinking how tasteless all the orange was. Mum loved it and that’s all that matters to me. I’m glad you managed to find your old front door. It sounds much nicer than the other one. And I love the idea of painting suns and little creatures on your window panes. I’ve got some like that above the three bedroom doors in my house too.

      1. Now I’m not saying the orange was tasteless, just that the new occupants probably wanted something dull. When sophie was a toddler, a neighbor came over with her girls on a playdate. She saw Sophie’s purple room and said I wish my husband “would allow me” to do something like this. So sad. We all need color in our lives. Plus my ‘abuse radar’ went off.

  2. Oh my friend. Hate to hear you so sad.
    Take strength from the fact that you could talk to her all the time.
    You could feel her love.
    That is something to hang on to.
    I never had it with my Mom.

    1. Thank you so much, Granny. Yes, you’re right, but I think a part of me is still in denial. It’s been six years now, and although I have photos of my Mum in my living room and bedroom, I still can’t quite make eye contact with them, if that makes sense? Probably sounds daft. I’m so sorry you didn’t have a good relationship with your mum. That’s sad too.

  3. Ellie, you describe the particular grief of separation so well. I love the way that you continue your conversation deliberately. May you continue your timeless intimacy with one another, even in this grief. Beautiful.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and good wishes. It means a lot to me. I’m considering next writing about one of those many conversations with my Mum as suggested by a fellow blogger. I’m not sure yet. I feel a little emotional from writing this post. Whatever I write, I truly write from my heart. It’s the only way I can blog honestly.

    1. Thank you. I understand where you’re coming from. After seeing that photo, I will never go back there either. It’s too painful. I should have left my memories of our house as they were. Nevertheless, it did help me to write this post. Ellie

  4. I’m so sorry….It’s hard enough to lose your mom, but I’m sure not being able to see her much in her last years made it much, much harder. I don’t think it’s something you ever completely heal from, but I hope it will hurt less as more time goes by.

    1. Thank you so much, Ann. It was incredibly hard, and I don’t think I will ever be able to come to terms with it. It’s been six years now and is just as painful now as it was then. Still, as you say, perhaps, it’ll stop hurting so much at some stage of my life.

      1. It takes a very long time to recover from such a profound loss. I think Anne Lammott said it best. She said when people are that deeply wounded, they believe they will never “dance again.” But she said they eventually will, but they’ll dance with a limp. And I think that’s true. The pain is always there, but its intensity lessens and you learn to live around it.

  5. Powerful Ellie, hugs to your dear soul… This brought tears to my eyes seeing you take us down memory lane all the beauty and trials of living. Thank you can’t stress that enough, your voice is resilient and strong in your own power πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸŒΉ

    1. Thank you so much, my friend. I appreciate your comment. This was tough to write, but I feel it has been a cathartic experience. The pain won’t go away yet, but perhaps, it will in time. Thanks again, Krissy. Xx ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀

  6. I’m so very sorry, I can imagine the change being painful because it almost feels like an affront that someone would change it. We want such things to stay the same, preserved in history as it is your memory.

    It’s awful that the house itself caused that physical barrier, where you can’t access it and your mum couldn’t leave it. What a discord though, those happier memories and thoughts of what your mum liked in the kitchen, vs the horrific times of not being able to see her. I don’t think I could have got through that, it would have torn me to pieces like it did you. But you kept going to be there for her in the way you could, and I’m glad you had the phone to keep in touch each day.

    I cried reading this. My mum had a heart attack a couple of months ago, one that she was apparently very lucky to have survived. I love her dearly and we’re very close, but the second I think about that it makes me feel like I’m going to break down. I don’t know what to say because nothing will make the pain less for you, nothing will make you feel better. I wish I could take that grief and loss and pain away, I really do. But at the same time, those are also the things that show how deeply you loved someone. Accepting those four years would be incredibly difficult. But the rest is a reminder of how wonderful your mum was and how deep your heart is. ❀️

    Caz xx

    1. Thank you very much for leaving me this very kind comment. Firstly, I wanted to say that I’m so sorry your mum had a heart attack, and I’m sorry my post upset you because it brought feelings up about your mum’s illness. It must have been a terrifying time for you. It’s really tough to think of our parents being so poorly and getting older. I hope she is well now. When my Mum had her stroke, she was never really the person she was before. The deep love was, of course, still there. It was just so painful seeing her so helpless and unable to communicate. She passed away three months after her stroke from double pneumonia but never regained her mobility and independence. She was such a loving, strong, capable person before that happened.

      All sorts of odd things crossed my mind in the years I couldn’t get into the house to see her. Ridiculous stuff like phoning the non-emergency branch of the fire brigade and asking if they’d hoist me in! I also, believe it or not, researched and found there is actually a wheelchair with wheels like an army tank that could climb, and I visualised myself getting up the steps that way! Of course, it was prohibitively expensive and probably just a mad thought. It would have been great if either of those options materialised!

      I remember my Mum as an amazing, kind, loving and independent woman. We had some excellent phone calls in those four years. There were sometimes tears, but more often, huge peals of laughter and giggles too. She was always there to support me through everything. I loved her so much and miss her terribly. There are still evenings when I pick up the phone to call her and then realise that she’s not here anymore.

      I thought you might like to read a poem I recently wrote about my Mum and me. Please, don’t feel obliged, and I’m honestly not trying to ‘sell’ my blog. I just thought you might like it. It’s called ‘A Pot of Tea’ – you can find it at https://elliethompson.uk/2022/02/27/a-pot-of-tea/.

      Take good care of yourself, Caz. I hope you are well today.

      Hugs, Ellie Xx ❀

  7. I believe she’s always with you in your heart….
    A well written blog, so many memories and so many beautiful emotions.
    I wish you the well, please don’t be sad.
    .
    Also this blog wasn’t visible on my readers section. I received a mail about new blog from you and that’s when I realised that you’ve written something new. I don’t know wp is doing crazy things πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

    1. Thank you, Devang, for reading this and taking the time to reply so kindly. I’m really sorry; your comment went into spam. I’ve no idea why! As you say, WP is doing some very odd things at the moment. I wonder if anyone else is having the same issues with it as we are. I’ve no idea either why you didn’t get a notification of this post. All very mysterious. Thanks again, Devang. Take care. Ellie

      1. Many comments by my followers on my blogs goes into the spam. This is stopping us to interact. I have a habit to drop comment after reading and I don’t just like and move on. I want to appreciate the time and that blog by dropping a comment.
        A fellow blogger whom I call sister here also faces similar issue, where she cannot see my latest blogs in reader. I told her to un-follow and then follow, I wonder if that work?

      2. Thanks for letting me know this. I feel the same as you. If I read a blog and enjoy it, I think it is important to leave a comment for the same reason as you do. I don’t think it’s respectful of me not to do that and just ‘like’ a post. I always enjoy your posts and comments, Devang. Thanks for taking the time to tell me your comment went into spam. I’ll make sure I check it regularly from now πŸ™‚

      3. This week ( on Wednesday), I have a blog planned up, it will describe many things about me and my intentions.
        Then on Sunday it’s world laughter day, so need to do something for that day.
        8th may it’s mother’s day so maybe I should try to write something as lovely as this blog of yours.
        Although all your blogs are lovely, because these are written by heart and not by mind(although fingers type them πŸ˜‚).

      4. I’ll be interested to read your next post, Devang. It’ll be good to know more about you. I didn’t know there was a world laughter day. I’ll look forward to reading your post about that too. Your mother’s day is on a different day to ours. We’ve already had ours on March 27th. Thank you for your kind words about my blog. Writing from my heart is the only way I know how to write so I have to listen carefully to it to be able to write something I’m passionate about πŸ™‚ .

    1. Thanks so much for reading my post and leaving me a kind comment. That’s lovely of you. It is tough to lose parents. Having lost both my parents now, I feel a bit like an orphanβ€”a bizarre feeling as an adult. It’s always a special time when I take myself off to the teashop to ‘talk’ to my Mum. I wasn’t close to my dad, so I don’t feel I need to do it for him. I miss him, of course, but not as much as my dear Mum. X

  8. This is so open and honest I love it I wish i could share it with you But I have no emotions like this My father passed two years ago and I just feel nothing about him. He refused to get close to his first family until he was well into his eighties I did hear him laugh once and that made me happy. I blogged it, but it’s like a show I saw it and have the program and that’s all. I am sorry for all you lost
    ;;
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    Laugh whenever the mood hits

    1. It must have been so tough with your father not wanting to get close to you or the rest of your family, Mr Ohh. I am sorry. Sometimes, it’s harder to lose someone you hadn’t had a special relationship with when that’s what you would have liked than when you lose someone with whom you’ve had a close relationship as, at least then, you’re left with happy memories. I remember my Mum with such love and fondness, but I lost my father ten years ago and wasn’t at all close to him. I feel nothing much about him now. It’s sad, but relationships are so complicated, as are people. Thank you very much for stopping by to read my post and for taking the time to leave a comment for me. It’s appreciated.

  9. I’m sure this was hard to write, Ellie, but it’s my hope that doing so has lightened your grief a notch. The circumstances (which I just heard/read about) made it all difficult, it seems. You can continue talking to your lovely Mom and look for her replies in your daily reading. She replies, you know. Take all the time you need to pamper your relationship with her. There exist no barriers now.
    You know you were lucky to have lived in such a gorgeous house where you made lovely memories, I’m sure– keep those memories alive as only those are real treasures. Always and forever. Get fortified and inspirited by them (if your soul likes the idea). I bless you and send you healing graces, dear one. And above all, I wish you miracles. xoxo

    1. Selma, thank you so much for such a beautiful, kind, and reassuring comment. It’s really appreciated and means an awful lot to me. You’re right; it did help to write this post; it was somewhat of a release to share my story about my precious Mum with my kind and generous readers. I realise how lucky and blessed I was to have such a wonderful, loving relationship with Mum; she was the most important person in my life (along with my two children, who I also love dearly). Although I still find it difficult to talk to Mum each day, I celebrate our relationship, particularly on special days like her birthday and Mother’s Day and Christmas. I take myself off to a small quaint tea shop in town with a beautiful, specially-chosen card, and I sit there and write a letter to my Mum, and I feel her presence with me. I order tea, toast, and marmalade, Mum’s favourite breakfast. I recently wrote a poem called ‘A Pot Of Tea’. If you would care to read it, I will happily share the link with you, but please, don’t feel obliged to do this. After six years, it all still feels raw – I think because I couldn’t see her for those years before she passed away. I still have tremendous sadness about that. I’m sure it will get better and be less painful with time. A short while ago, I was saying to Cherie at Cherie’s Chateau that I keep a gratitude diary every day, and the first entry is that I’m so grateful for the relationship I had with my Mum – no one can ever take that away. I am indeed blessed to have had deep feelings for her and for all the times we were able to spend together over the previous years. Thank you again, Selma. I’m so grateful that we’ve met xxx πŸ’πŸ’•πŸ’–

      1. No worries Ellie, sometimes words just end up sounding cliche. I struggle to keep on top on WP comments myself, I should check more often but usually let it build up over a week and then try and play a catch-up lol, you’re not alone ✨

      2. Thanks, Cherryl. I want to read and reply to all the readers and friends who have taken their time to comment, partly because that’s what I like to do and partly out of respect for others who are working hard at their blogs too. It’s a bit of a full-time job at times, though. So, I know just how you feel. I think I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to work, so perhaps, have more time on my hands than some people. Xx πŸ’Ÿ

  10. I know how you feel. There’s a house that changed DRAMATICALLY that I used to live in for a long time. Outside and inside. A part of me wishes I could go inside to see how things are redone, but the other side of me already hates it from the pictures.
    I go out by myself on certain occasions, too, just to feel as if I was out with her.

    1. Hi there. Thank you so much for dropping by my blog and being so kind as to leave me a comment. I appreciate that. What do I call you? Is it Sam or Goldie? You don’t have to answer that if it’s too personal given that we’ve just ‘met’. I’m so sorry you’ve lost your mum too. It’s so hard being without them, isn’t it? I can understand how you feel about your old house – I’ve only seen the picture my sister sent me; I know I can’t go back, no matter how much I’d like to see what’s happened to it. I think it would upset me too much. At least I can remember what the inside of our family was like, and I’ll always have that in my mind. I’m grateful for that. I’ll pop by your blog to take a look tomorrow as I’m tired now and off to bed in a minute. Thanks so much again for commenting. I feel we’re on the same wavelength. Take care. Ellie x

      1. A while back I went by Goldie, but found that people needed a ‘real’ name to connect better and so that I could share with any publications. So, I came out as Sam. Either one is fine. Depending on what you prefer.

        It’s SO hard to live without them…

        I appreciate you saying that you will visit my blog. No rush. You need to rest. Sleep is probably my favorite love.

      2. Thanks for explaining about your name. I’d like to call you Sam, if that’s ok with you. I, too, think it’s important to have a name – I feel it helps to build up kind relationships with our readers. It seems more personal, I think.

        I will definitely visit your blog later on. For now, I have a class this morning and then an appointment this afternoon. It’s one of those days where I would rather just sit and write. Still, life goes on around our writing.

        I love my sleep too, and I really struggle to get up in the mornings. Once I’m up, I’m fine though – it’s just the thought of getting out of bed! πŸ₯±πŸ˜€πŸ˜˜

      3. “It’s one of those days where I would rather just sit and write. Still, life goes on around our writing.” Isn’t that the truth?!

        Oh, the getting out of bed part is terrible, but I continue to have a bed hangover for a while afterward, too.

  11. Nostalgia overload! I felt the same way about my grandparents’s house. Then I figured that the original, my childhood home will always stay in my memories and no one can take that away from me.

    1. Thank you for this, Harshi. You’re quite right – I will always have very fond memories of my childhood home. I just missed my Mum so much in the years I couldn’t get into the house, and Mum couldn’t get out either. There were many years when we couldn’t see each other. It was heartbreaking. I’m glad you have lovely memories of your original home – it does stay with you, you’re quite right.

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