In April 2015, I applied for university. I was just about to turn 21, I wasn’t earning a lot of money, I didn’t have any A-levels, and I didn’t think of myself as “academic” enough to do so, but Mum and I talked about it over and over maybe ten times before I made the decision to apply. She encouraged me and helped me fill out forms, locate my GCSE results and find available finance options.
When I got accepted, she was the first person I told and she shared my pride, although I can imagine it was a different feeling of pride for her. By now, my brother had started at university a couple years before and Mum was bursting at the seams because both of her children were going to university. She was so happy that we had both found field of study that we were passionate about and were able to develop and integrate with our careers.
Every time I wrote an assignment, Mum was the one to proof read them – even though I was writing about child development theories and social inequalities – she always wanted to learn about it so that she could understand better and give me feedback about how well it read, how I could phrase it differently, or simply pointing out spelling mistakes.
Mum got really unwell at the beginning of my third year, and she passed away when I was at the end of it, I had to apply for extensions and extenuating circumstances for every assignment. Even in November when Mum was in the MacMillan hospice, she was checking that I was able to find time to study and that I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed with my course on top of everything that was happening to her.
In January 2019, I finished the first part of my course and obtained my foundation degree. I started my “top-up” course to complete a full honours degree. I had the option to go to a graduation ceremony in October 2019. I was so proud of myself and my close family came along. Just before the ceremony, my step Mum was helping me pin my hood onto my outfit and she said “I know it’s not the same without your Mum here today”. And she was right. It wasn’t. I wanted my Mum. Mum was my best cheerleader, my editor, she encouraged me to study, and she was always there to celebrate with me when I passed my assignments. My Mum was over the moon on the day of my brother’s graduation, she was so proud that she cried. I wish I could have had a moment with her on my day.
In December 2019, I submitted the first part of my dissertation and I got a lower mark than I thought I would, it was still a pass, but I’d invested so much time and effort into it that I felt like it was too low and I got really down about it. I submitted my second half in April. I got my results recently and I am so, so pleased to say that I passed the second half with a better grade than the first, and I got great feedback! I told my close family and my friends straight away. It means I’ve got another graduation to look forward to!
It’s such a bittersweet feeling that the one person I want to tell – who helped me from day one of my education – isn’t around to hear my accomplishments.
I think you’d be really proud, Mum.