We’re back from the world of Belfast now, and before I can press on with my to do list, before I can remember who I am and where I live I feel the need to write something to draw a line underneath our time over there. Obviously there are vast swathes of things that are far too personal to reflect on in public, we have friends for that very reason. It is not polite to go into details of the first time I wanted to scream at someone or the many tangled family relationships. Just read The Gathering if you want some idea of life at an Irish Wake.
We buried my mother in law on Saturday morning after a long fight with cancer. There is no other word to describe it, we use cliche’s for a reason after all. Fight is the word for Geraldine’s refusal to give in to despair and for how desperately she clung onto every opportunity for hope against the rising tide of cancer. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked yet strangely her illness provided the opportunity for better chats, deeper relationship and the chance to hear her life story. These gave me a chance to see the deep love she had for her children and her strong desire to provide them with roots in this unstable world. She was a woman of passion, full of banter, who loved being in on the action, who loved gathering people for a party and who poured her life out into her family, both in her first and second marriage.
I’m sad that we won’t get told off for giggling on the sofa anymore, with her eager to join in on the joke. I’m sad that I won’t have the chance to tell her that I love her desire to get everyone she knew the perfect gift, reflecting how well she knew them. I’m sad that there will be no more moments when I can ask her questions about her past and the roads that brought her to the place she was in life.
I’m grateful for knowing her and I’m grateful that she welcomed me into the family, getting used to the strangely quiet English girl who had appeared to have stolen her son’s heart so quickly. I’m glad that we had the many trips to Belfast this year so I could know her better. I’m grateful for her enjoyment of our marriage and I love her son, my husbandface, and his care and concern for her over the last year. I love that she got to come and hang out in Brighton with us at Easter and see how we live.
It took us a while to understand each other, it wasn’t an easy straightforward relationship, we had a wide cultural divide to cross but I’m very glad to have had Geraldine Cunningham as my mother in law and we will miss her lots.
I’ll be using the running shorts she bought me on the 30th October as I run 10 miles in the Great South Run for Macmillan Cancer Support. I’m not sure what possessed me to sign up for such a run but know that I’ll be spurred on by thoughts of Geraldine as I notch up the miles. You can sponsor me to do this crazy feat by clicking away here: Kath’s Just Giving page.