After Mum had had her surgery and had carried her gross bodily fluid bad around with her, she started radiotherapy. She’d gotten so strong that she was driving herself to radiotherapy sessions, because she’d always been so independent before cancer, this was a huge deal for her. Mum had come back home, could get herself up and down the stairs (with a few ‘oofs’ and ‘ughs’ here and there), and was regularly cooking whole meals again. I remember the first time I saw her standing in our kitchen, cutting up some potatoes. I ran to get my phone and take a photo of her to send to my brother – “Look at what Mum’s doing! She’s making dinner!!” – his response was just as excited and proud as mine was. I don’t know if Mum ever knew how I’d felt about seeing her there and taking the photo.
Her radiotherapy sessions were about 10 minutes long and she had to sit down and have a machine pointed at her in a certain place every time. For radiotherapy, to pinpoint the exact location the machine needs to be pointed at, one needs to get a small tattoo – literally a dot in one place. Mum had never particularly liked the idea for a tattoo for herself, but she liked the ones that my brother and I have, and when she got her “tattoo”, we used to tease her about it and you could tell she was secretly super excited to be in our gang.
My birthday is in July, and in 2017 I wanted to have a meal with close friends and family…but there was 18 of us and I couldn’t be bothered to book a table for that many people, get all the deposits, make sure everyone was happy with the menu etc.
So I held a Garlic Bread Party* in my Nan’s retirement community events hall. My Mum was so excited, she came to Makro with me to get all the ingredients, she helped me make the dinner, the salad, helped tie balloons around the signposts, and wore the new dress she’d bought. We had a really great evening.
Mum’s birthday is five days after mine, and for her birthday I’d asked her what she’d like to do. She said she wanted to go to the pub with her loved ones and have a nice meal. So that’s what we did. My brother and his girlfriend made the journey to accompany us along with my Nan, my Mum’s friend, her two children, and my Mum’s colleague of 15+ years. It pissed it down all day on her birthday. I parked my car and by the time we got back to it, it was in a puddle. Mum joked that at least she didn’t have to worry about her hair going frizzy!
The weekend after Mum’s birthday, I went to Brighton with some close friends and my cousin, it was to celebrate my birthday and go to Pride. My Mum was so excited for me to go and let my hair down, give myself some me time without worrying how she’d be when I got back. Whilst in Brighton, I matched with Sam (the love of my life) on Tinder. I came back and was telling Mum about the amazing time we’d had, when I got a message from him. We chatted non-stop for about three weeks, then I was ready to meet him. We met in person and instantly bonded, and I didn’t want to be apart from him. Mum was really happy that I’d found someone to be this excited about.
When I was ready for Sam to meet my family, my Mum instantly loved him too. Sam’s always been so understanding and accommodating of what my Mum was going through and wanted to know what, if anything, he could do to help. That first weekend Sam met everyone, my Mum invited my Nan round for a roast all together and you could tell Mum was enamoured with him, because she gave him a kiss on the cheek for helping to bring the plates into the kitchen…I’d done it every day for the past 20 years…just sayin’.
That summer was brilliant because I’d experienced a lot of meaningful things. Right at the beginning (end of April), I ended an emotionally abusive relationship. My Mum had her hugely successful surgery and started her road to recovery. We both had a great birthday. I met Sam. My Mum found her strength and independence again.
*Garlic Bread Party is the phrase I coined for my birthday meal. I decided to make spaghetti Bolognese for everyone, and you can’t have spag bol without garlic bread. Make that two/three slices per person for eighteen people (plus extras because I’m all for dat GB)…and you’ve got a garlic bread party.