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So this weekend is a big weekend.
Not for me – well, not directly – but for my Mum.
You see on Saturday, 3rd November, she turns an amazing 80 years of age.
Now Mum being Mum, she doesn’t want a fuss but 80 isn’t something you can just ignore, which is why we’re flying over to see her and then in Feb, we’re going to take her near the North Pole so she can see the Northern Lights.
No, I’m not doing it because I’m a bastard, I’m doing it because she wants to see the Northern Lights.
Yes, I know you can see them from Scotland, but this is something she’s always wanted to witness so I’m not going to leave anything to chance.
Obviously what this all means is that they’ll be no more blog posts from me for over a week.
Yes, it’s my Mum’s birthday but you’re getting the presents but the cost of that is that you have to hear me sign off with a post of great sentimentality.
I love my Mum.
I know you know that, but I don’t care.
Apart from being a warm, kind, generous, intelligent, supportive, compassionate, wonderful woman … she is also just ace.
You see unlike other people who are of that age, my Mum doesn’t want to consign herself to irrelevance.
That doesn’t mean she dresses like a hipster and calls herself a ‘Parental Ninja’, it simply means she wants to be part of this generation as much as she was part of every previous generation.
Whereas so many people – some half of her age – try and create a separation between their life and the life going on around them, my Mum embraces it.
Whether it’s exposing herself to popular culture in terms of movies, music, theatre or television through to embracing digital communication to do everything from Skyping, buying groceries and holidays [which let's not forget, involves coming to see in whichever mental country I've decided to live in at the time] and keeping on top of World news … my Mum’s frame of reference is as relevant and informed as anybody’s and at 80, I think that is amazing and fantastic.
In all honesty, my Mum is an inspiration to me.
Not just because her life has been filled with troubles, struggles & challenges and yet has maintained her spirit of compassion, generosity, and open mindedness.
Not just because she has maintained her relevance, interest and involvement in a fast moving World.
But because she has manages to do all this without letting go of her beliefs and values.
She has always been fiercely protective of what she believes in.
Of course she expresses it in ways that are sweetness personified, but she has strong opinions on what should – and shouldn’t be done – of which ‘following your heart’ is most definitely one of them.
To be honest, I have benefited the most from this.
Whereas many parents would stand in the way of their children’s will, when they openly expressed their desire to buy a VHS player, go into music or move overseas … my Mum [and my Dad] were very supportive.
Sure, we had big discussions about it, they wanted to make sure I’d thought things through and was aware of the implications … but once they were satisfied my intentions were good, they backed me 100%.
This was never more apparent than when my Dad had a stroke 3 weeks before I was due to move to Australia.
To be honest, I didn’t want to go, but despite the hardship, stress and worry … they said I had to.
Did they really want me to leave?
No … not just because of the situation with my Dad’s health, but because I am their only son and they loved me very much.
However their view was that because this was something I’d been been planning to do for 9 months, if I didn’t go now, then I might never have the courage to take that step … so as much as they would miss me, they felt the experience – regardless of the outcome – would be invaluable for me.
And they were right, because everything I have in my life today can be tied back to that decision to encourage me to go.
That is the definition of love.
That’s true selflessness.
I’d love to think I’d be that strong for my children, but I really question whether I would … and when I take into account how she continued to protect me at a time where I should have been protecting her, I am utterly humbled by how amazing a person she is.
Would they have preferred me to have a career in law or medicine?
Probably – if only for the fact they understand what lawyers and doctors actually do – but their ambitions for me were always far more focused on leading a life of fulfillment than anything else.
And that’s the thing, they have always actively encouraged and supported me to lead a full and interesting life, not just a life of contentment.
They taught me – as my Mum still practices now – to explore and embrace possibilities and opportunities … to keep learning, listening and challenging … to embrace the weird, the wonderful and the unheard … to be loyal to the people and things that matter and ignore those that don’t … to stand up for what I believe in and most importantly, never settle for easy.
And while it can be argued I have not pushed those beliefs as far as my parents did – or wanted me too – the life I live now is testimony to the values and beliefs they instilled in me and encouraged me to maintain.
To be honest, the fact I have been able to do this – at least to some degree – is the present my Mum values the most.
All she has ever wanted for me is my happiness.
All she has ever asked for is the satisfaction of my ambitions and interests.
She is selfless to the extreme … and while that can be annoying when she takes an age to accept any help from me … it is another reason why she is so special and why so many of my friends hold her in the highest esteem.
There are so many things to thank my Mum for.
So many things to celebrate my Mum for.
But the best way I can sum it up is to say I love her with all my heart and I am proud, honored and happy she’s mine.
She is the best – not just as a Mum, but as a human being.
So Happy Birthday for Saturday my dear Mum, I can’t wait to see you.
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