Friday, 3 February 2012

What would Mum have made of it?

Today is the third anniversary of my Mum's death in 2009. I am well past the sorrowful stage now, but I still don't fully understand our pre-transition relationship, and no doubt I'll be pondering that for a long time ahead. Perhaps some insight will eventually come - or not. It may not matter. But I will always want to mark this kind of event with at least a brief mention. After all, blogs are essentially diaries, and diaries contain notes on things past, as well as things to come.

Both my parents were very important to me. I feel now that I always had more rapport with Dad, and that my relationship with him was consciously simpler. My interaction with Mum was less direct, more careful, possibly more confused. And yet I loved her, and had many good moments with her. The occasions I liked best were when it was just her and me, taking a country walk somewhere. She loved walking; and when my parents lived in Liphook, not far from beautiful places such as the Frensham Commons, or Waggoners Wells, or the Devils Punch Bowl at Hindhead, there was ample scope for memorable walks in wonderful surroundings. Often in the keen air of early spring or late autumn. So despite the rather messy end of our relationship - she died of cancer, sleepy with morphine, unaccepting of myself as Lucy, the topic shelved and never discussed again before she died - I have, overriding this, many fond remembrances.

But not of any especial closeness, certainly not of hugs and kisses. Neither Mum nor Dad were physically or emotionally expressive. Perhaps that was down to their upbringing, generation, and notions of what was proper behaviour. I remember Mum being scornful of another family we knew, who tended to weep and wail at every tragedy. My parents were not cold: indeed they were very friendly people, often at the centre of local social events, and well-regarded. But the 'stiff upper lip' idea, especially the notion of not 'giving in to emotion' obviously affected me, and made it difficult for me to be impulsively warm. I never learned how. We did not embrace; and that is possibly why I still find it so hard to make skin-on-skin contact with anyone. But they also imbued me with standards of head-over-heart self-reliance (and maybe self-protection and assertiveness) that I have reason to be thankful for.

As I said, Mum couldn't cope with the idea that I had always been a girl waiting to get out. Had she lived, I wonder what she would now make of her child. Here I am, having Sunday Lunch last weekend at a Brighton pub called The Fat Georges - referring to the four King Georges, and especially George IV:

My meal looks enormous, but that was the effect of the wide-angle lens. Honest.

Supposing it had instead been a lunch with Mum and Dad? They'd see me across the table, looking like this. What would they think? Would they say to themselves, at the very least, 'Well it's turned out for the best, after all.' Of course, I can never know. But I'd like to imagine that they would have achieved acceptance by now.

They would have seen me in many other situations too. I was always happy to go out with them. Yesterday I went to visit my cousin R--- in Kent, and here I am with one of R---'s little Yorkie dogs on my lap. It's her oldest Yorkie, now aged 15, with one eye lost, but her favourite. This little creature is also called Lucy, so it's The Two Lucys:

Surely Mum would now see the daughter that had been hidden inside her 'son'?

Perhaps it's best left as an open question. It can never be answered.


  1. It isn't nice to lose one's parents Lucy, I know, both mine died in the late ninetees. I had no idea that your mum suffered from cancer before she died. That was my mum's burden too and the reason for her death. It took me some time to get over my mum's death only to find eighteen months later losing my dad too. Like yourself I seemed to get along easier with dad than with mum but I loved them both equally. Neither of them got to know about Shirley Anne and as it happened I was on the verge of transitioning soon after they both departed. I know my parents would have been hurt by my revelation but I also know that I would have been accepted by them both. They were very loving and considerate to all of us. Yes, they were physically expressive and we all received kisses and hugs whenever we met with them. I am guessing that your parents were born in the twenties or perhaps the thirties? Dad was born 1918, mum 1922. Perhaps you are right about your own difficulties being partly due to your upbringing. It is hard for children to express themselves if they are restricted when young and also denied first hand knowledge of demonstrative love and affection. I am sure your parents loved you in their own way even if it wasn't by physical closeness. Whether they would have accepted you as Lucy is another matter. As you say, your question cannot be answered.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. It's my birthday today, also the anniversary of Buddy Holly's death back in 1959.

    I'd like to believe that your mum would have come to accept you, the real you. As a parent myself I think that really the thing that we desire the most for our kids is that they are content and happy. So hopefully your mum would have felt the same, even if took her a while to get used to losing her son, she would have realised she gained a wonderful daughter.

  3. I think that they would have come round in the end.

    My parents were very cold too, not much hugging. I think it was their generation, perhaps something to do with the war.

    Wide angle lens or not your meal looks delicious.

    Please give Caroline a hug from me when you visit her. I wonder how she's getting along;

  4. The picture of the two Lucys is one of your most lovely. It's so natural, so 'right'. We cannot know what mum would have made of it, but I want to believe she would love her son that has become a daughter and found true happiness and fulfilment.



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