My First Mother Figure

29th April 2014. It had been 4 months since I had spoken to my mother and I get a phone call from my sister “Nanny’s dead”

I literally felt my heart sink. I dropped to my knees and I couldn’t even speak. I had never felt pain like this before. I had lost close family members, but never had it hurt like this. I could hear my sister talking but I couldn’t tell you what she was saying.

It was the day before my birthday and I was packing ready to leave for the airport as I was going to Dubai. I called my best friend and told her what had happened; ready to tell her I couldn’t go, but my nanny was always telling me how much she loved that I traveled so much. She would want me to go. If I didn’t go, what was I going to do? Sit in my house alone and cry? At a time where I needed my family more than anything in the world, I couldn’t help but feel like I was on my own. So I decided to go.

I sat in a daze for about 2 hours. I couldn’t stop thinking about my mother. Although she didn’t have the best relationship with my grandmother, surely she must be hurting now too. Being the good hearted person that I am, I decided to message her. I found it strange that I hadn’t heard from her already. Why hadn’t she called me to tell me? Why had it become the responsibility of my 18 year old sister? Why has she still not called me? Why hasn’t she checked if I am okay?

I put all my questions aside and reminded myself that she is grieving too. So I messaged her saying “Are you ok?” she replies back straight away “Yeah u”. I instantly regret my decision to message her. No I wasn’t okay but there was no way I was going to tell her that. As she would have loved to know I was unhappy. I don’t know why I expected her to be comforting and welcome me with open arms. My mother had never consoled me, so why would it be any different this time? Now I have let her back in and I knew this day would come back to haunt me.

I just wanted to speak to my Grandmother one more time. I wished I had told her I loved her more often. I wished I had gone to visit her more. I wished I had called her more. At that moment I picked up my phone and dialed my Grandmother’s number. I don’t know why, it just felt like the right thing to do. The phone eventually rung out and went to voicemail. I called back to back about a hundred times just to listen to her voice on that voicemail. I cried and cried. I wanted her to pick up and tell me she was fine. I still have her number saved in my phone to this day. I can’t bring myself to delete it. I sometimes pick up the phone and go to call her and then I remember.. My first mother figure is gone.

My mother and I lived with my Grandmother until I was 5 years old; she was always looking after me when my mother wasn’t around. I don’t know where my mother was. She wasn’t at work, as she worked nights. Sometimes she was gone for days but I liked it. I loved waking up in the mornings to scrabbled eggs in bed watching Hollyoaks. I enjoyed lying in bed with my Grandmother talking about anything and everything. I remember we would laugh so much. I saw a silly side to my Grandmother that I don’t think many people saw.
My mother was always arguing with my Grandmother. So we eventually moved out and I saw her less. It was like this my whole life. They would be best friend’s one moment and at each others throats the next. Sure my Grandmother was a difficult mother, but she loved her grandchildren more than anything.

When I was 8 years old my Grandmother moved to Worthing. We would plan to go stay with her for a week during the summer holidays, but my mother would always get into a fight with her and we would come home the next day. I started to find my Grandmother irritating too, but looking back on the situation I realised I was a reflection of my mother. I wasn’t mature enough to have my own feelings or opinions of people as my mother always made sure to interfere and make me see the bad in people.

I remember on my 13th birthday my Grandmother came to stay with us. Her and my mother got into a fight over something. My mother dragged me into the argument; obviously as the scapegoat it was my fault. She told my Grandmother she had to leave and told me I had to go too, birthday or not she didn’t care. My Grandmother left, I stayed of course; I was 13 where else would I be going. It was raining that day, very fitting for how I was feeling. I watched my Grandmother walking down the road in the rain, pulling her suitcase with her head hung. It torn me up inside to see her so unhappy.

Over the last few years of my Grandmother’s life I would try to call her at least once a week. We would talk about life, The Kardashians, the Indian soaps she liked to watch. We would be on the phone for hours. These moments are so precious to me as I know my Grandmother didn’t have much happening and she loved these calls. 

I was on that flight to Dubai reminiscing on all of these memories. So many great ones and so many sad ones of the arguments my Grandmother and mother had. It kind of helped being cut off from the world for that flight. I cried the whole way. It was a night flight so everyone else was asleep. A few occasions the air hostess asked me if I was okay and bought me tea. 
I landed expecting to have a load of messages from my mother. I did have some, not what I was expecting though. She had messaged me to tell me everyone was fighting. All the sisters were at each other’s throats. That just made me feel worse. I was glad I wasn’t there. 

I woke up on my birthday to a message from my mother. Something inside me was relieved. She was finally being a mother, this whole situation has made her remember the important things in life. Her sending me a birthday message showed she cared and was thinking of me. I opened the message and read “Nanny’s autopsy will be on Monday” I stared at my phone in disbelief. Why was I so stupid to expect anything more. I didn’t reply to any of her messages while I was away. I couldn’t have her upset me. I told her when I was back that I didn’t have wifi. 

Everything was different after my Grandmother died. It was like the whole affair (which is still a story for another day) had never happened. My mother had a habit of brushing things under the carpet. It was weird but I just went with it. I hadn’t seen my brother in 4 months so I was making the most of being allowed to see him. 

The day of the funeral came. It was a whole month after my Grandmother’s death; as this was most convenient for my mother. It caused conflict between the other sisters but my mother always gets what she wants as everything has to revolve around her. 

I was in the car with one of my aunts and my cousin. My mother had been vile to my aunt in the last few weeks, so she wanted nothing to do with her. When we got to the chapel we sat separate from everyone else. I squeezed my cousin’s hand the whole time the priest was speaking. I was shaking so much as I knew it was soon time for me to speak. I had prepared a poem for my Grandmother. I went up the altar, took a deep breath and froze. I couldn’t get a single word out as hard as I tried. I was stood there tears pouring down my face for at least 2 minutes, wondering to myself why no one had got up to come and speak for me. 

I thought if I saw my little brother’s face it would give me the strength to speak, so I looked up; but instead I saw my mother staring back at me. That glare was one I can never forget. It was like her eyes had gone deep into my soul and there was so much hate. Seeing her just made it worse. Eventually one of my other cousins got up and read my poem out for me. 

At the end of it my sister and I went over to the coffin to say our final goodbyes. We held each other as we cried our hearts out. I felt empty inside and I just wanted someone to hug me and tell me it was going to be okay. I saw my mother walking over to us and thought my prayers had been answered. Instead she sniffled a bit and squeezed out a few crocodile tears before my step father came over to her and comforted her and they both walked out leaving my sister and I to continue crying alone. Eventually my other brother came and got us. 

The wake couldn’t have been more uncomfortable. My mother spent the whole time fixated on me continuing those daggers I was getting from her in the chapel. I really don’t know what her problem was, anyone would have thought she was blaming me for my Grandmother’s death. Everyone was coming up to me and asking why my mother was behaving in such a way towards me. This was the first time she had ever shown her hatred towards me in public. 
Things never got better after this. My mother and I got into a huge fight months later where she told me I had used my Grandmother dying to worm my way back into her life. She told me I was 26 years old now and I needed to get on with my own life ; like it’s a crime to be part of your families life once you are an adult. 

I’ve never really got over the loss of my Grandmother. Every year approaching my birthday I get extremely distraught. I don’t think I will ever be truly happy on this day again. For this was when I lost the one true mother I ever had, my Grandmother…



One thought on “My First Mother Figure”

  1. Sadly, I don’t think this is as uncommon as it should be. Narcissistic mothers will be their toxic, nasty selves. Giving her your birthday – you’re better than that.
    Give your Gran an honor or celebration on her birthday and yours. Eat or drink or experience something that the two of you would have enjoyed together. Kardashian marathon? Scrambled eggs? Both? Honor her memory by being the person she loved.

    Liked by 1 person

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