Today would have been my mum’s Birthday. I cut some flowers from my garden and visited her grave. Some of the plants I have in my garden are from cuttings I took from her garden – many of her favourites. I have carefully transported them to two different gardens over the past ten years. My brain struggles with the fact that on August 23 it will be ten whole years since I last saw my mum. Ten years. Ten whole years. 10 years. No, I still can’t believe it.
Life is fragile and short. Ten years. My dad will have been gone for twelve years this September. And my darling Pepper, who died on the four year anniversary of Mum’s death, will have been gone for six whole years.
Today also marks two months since Chandi died. Everything, from Christmas to any successes are always marred with sadness for me. Like a photograph taken with a thumb partly over the lens – a permanent reminder. The photographs on my walls are precious – everyone in them , apart from me, is gone. I won’t lie, it hurts. Big time. I only ever wanted one thing as a kid and that was to make my mum proud of me. I was quite good at music – playing the Piano- but I lost my confidence and stopped performing when I left University.
Lacking confidence. I don’t suppose this is how others see me. But how others see us and how we see ourselves are usually two very different things. Another person’s snap judgement of you is usually completely wrong. My lack of confidence around other people is usually misinterpreted as me being unfriendly or aloof. That’s okay, I suppose. But, take half a second to speak to me and you might find out something that takes you by surprise…or not…
I’m still waiting to be discovered for being a fraud. I dread the day Oxford University phones me up and tells me what I strongly suspected all along “We made a mistake accepting you as an undergraduate and your degree is no longer valid”. Stupid? Daft? Quite possibly, but I’m still waiting to be ‘found out’…How’s that for lack of confidence?!
I wish my mum could have seen how fabulous Chandi became. I always wanted to be truly good at something. I always worked my butt off with everything, I didn’t just sit on my hands wishing to be good … or for things to fall in my lap. Funnily enough, nothing has ever done that. It’s been hard slog. Very hard and under difficult conditions that might have made others wonder why they were bothering.
Mum never saw us get to Crufts to actually compete – Freestyle and Heelwork to Music wasn’t even a proper competition at Crufts when she died, and I had no idea that it ever would be. It came as a complete shock to me when it was announced that the inaugural HTM/Freestyle competition would be held at Crufts in 2005. Chandi and I won it, and the only person I wanted to tell, was my mum.
Exactly the same in 2009, when we set a couple of records, winning all three Finals at Crufts. After the Heelwork Final when I was at Crufts on my own, I sat in the car, holding Chandi’s paw and cried. I wanted to show my mum what we’d just achieved. I wanted to say “Look!! I did this with Chandi and we won. We won it all”. Very often, moments in life, whether they are happy or sad, are nothing at all if you don’t have that one person to share them with.
Oh well. No point dwelling on it. It is what it is and I have two choices. Deal with it or not deal with it. On the whole, I chose the former. That’s why my lack of confidence led me to the Final of Britain’s Got Talent so I could feel the fear of performing live with Chandi in front of 14 million people. I needed that bucket backstage. So did Chandi …Matching buckets. We did it though. By ‘ell, we did it. With Chandi by my side I could do anything.
Mum didn’t always understand or approve of my choices, but at the end of her life, she told me she understood why I did what I did for my dogs. She finally ‘got’ the relationship and for a brief moment, saw Pepper and Chandi as more than ‘just dogs’. “I once was blind, but now I see” – words from the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. Funny old life…
Happy Birthday Mum. I love you and miss you. x