My mum lost her fight with cancer 20 years ago today. This is quite an anniversary, which fortunately most people won’t get to celebrate, but she was a great inspirational women and deserves to be remembered!
Losing a parent is always hard, but you feel very cheated when they are only 57 (I was 33 and my daughter Penny was only 6). This is not old – there is still so much more that she could have done! But there is no point in dwelling on what might have been, lets celebrate what she brought to the world:-)
So how did my mum influence me and what has she missed over the last 20 years that would have made her smile?
The Working Mum – Equality in Action!
My mum was one of the earliest women in our street to drive a car (a little Ford Anglia!), she had always had a career and had worked damn hard to make sure she balanced her work and her home life (much better than I ever did). We are talking about the 60’s and 70’s when I was at school, when most women stayed at home and looked after the kids.
Mum had various jobs where she ran a department of book-keepers, and was always highly respected by her colleagues and her bosses. She was always good with numbers and had a grammar school education. She was not a feminist but was an inspiration to me (and other women), because she showed that women could have a family and a career. I learnt from her (and especially my dad) that if you wanted to get on in the world – you had to be better than the boys.
So both my mum and my dad inspired me to work (bloody) hard at school and get myself a University education. I was in the minority back in 1978, where most people left school and got themselves a proper job (especially as the Ridings High School in Winterbourne, Bristol was a huge our 2000 strong comprehensive school). My parents work ethic still plays an important part today as I am often accused of being (a bit) of a workaholic.
It was not all hard work though, mum did like to have a good laugh, she was also partial to a gin and tonic and was very funny when she was a bit tipsy.
Accepting Others for Who They Are – No Bigots Here Please!
One of my enduring memories was how popular she was. In the 70’s she managed all the accounts at the Arnolfini in Bristol (which is a drama and art centre that is still there today). I often spent time there in the summer holiday and was introduced to some weird and wonderful people that worked there. My mum got on with everyone, no prejudices or judgment, she just accepted everyone regardless of their age, sexual preferences and colour. More importantly they accepted and seemed to admire her. Considering we are talking about an era with fear over Aids, this acceptance of people irrespective of what they looked like or believed in, was pretty unique. The biggest lesson learnt was don’t judge people by how they look, find out how they tick and what drives them. If they are good at what they do or have the right attitude there will always be something they can contribute.
Being Better Than The Boys
By the time I was 15, I was already into rock music and soon became a biker/rock chick. This was my way of expressing my desire for equality, I hang around with the boys and acted like one of them. Interestingly, this social group was also treated with a lot of distrust and even the Leicester University and Poly bike club members were treated by some pub landlords as outcasts. The crazy thing was that these “yobbo’s” were probably the most intelligent 18-20 year olds in the city at the time!
I chose to be different, I liked being the only girl riding a big motorbike, but actually my real focus was my career. All through school and Uni I wanted to be cleverer and more successful than the boys! If my mum could be successful in a man’s world, then so could I.
What She Would Have Missed Over the Last 20 Years?
During the last year when she was very ill, I tried to travel down to see her in Bristol every other weekend. Penny (my daughter) was old enough to know what was happening and they wanted to spend as much time together as possible. Mum always said she had filled her life with lots of good times and the only thing that upset her was not seeing Penny grow up. To be honest I think she would have been shocked just how horrible teenagers turned out, and Penny was up amongst the worse of them! However Penny is about to be a mum herself and has actually turned into a lovely young lady.
She would have loved being a great-grandma, so I will have to do her bit for her – Saturday babysitting here I come!
My mum was a softie, she would have loved the Millenium and Olympic celebrations. Any excuse for a good old-fashioned knees up!
Growing my business
Mum would have been very proud that I had the perseverance to develop my career when I was a single mum and then to set-up and run my own business. She would have been there to support and advise me during the tough times. She had good old practical common sense, a sound business brain and she was a great listener. Even though she was in Bristol and there were no mobile phones we used to speak (or meet) as often a possible. I still miss our chats.
Technology – how things have changed!
If you remember the first use of computerisation in the office was in the account department, so mum (like me) was a bit of a geek (sorry!) I think she would have loved some of the technology changes that we have witnessed over the last 20 years.
Digital cameras did not become mainstream until the mid-nineties and this have allowed my mum to take even more photos of the family and holidays.
Back in 1993, mobile phones were bricks owned by businessmen. She would have loved a mobile phone and the best bit would have been once they had an integrated camera.
Amstrad was already producing affordable PC for the office and home, but internet access was still by dial up, with only limited access. Email addresses were often a number rather than your name and the internet was definitely for geeks or business. I don’t think she would have dreamt what you can now do with Facebook or Google? Mum would have been an ipad fan, watching telly, playing a game, surfing the web, dual screen heaven.
Although there have been so many changes, The innovation I think she would have enjoyed the most is big Plasma/LED TV’s and 3D cinema. I would have loved to have seen her face watching Avatar for the first time:-) It inspired me and it would have made her cry!
Tribute – Inspiration & Tears!
It is frightening to think that my mum died when she was only 57! She is still missed very much and her influence and legacy is about to be passed on to a new generation. This stuff changes people – but 20 years on it is much easier to see all the good stuff and celebrate why mums are your best friend!
So I want to pass on two pieces of advice which this has taught me;
- live your life as if everyday was your last, go and do stuff, don’t waste your precious time and be nice to the people around you!
- go and tell your mum you love her, she won’t always be there when you need her.
RIP Mary Patricia Clode, Mum, wife, sister, grandma and soon to be great-grandma!
Post-script – this is a very personal indulgence for a business blog, it ignores the fact that the rest of the family are also missing her and that the rest of team in Anicca never got to know her. But who cares – Mary Clode is worth a tribute or two!