I’ll help you up

I have always counted myself among that group of fortunate people who are born to amazing parents. Mum and dad have always been strong and supportive. I rely on them more than I realise at times.

As I grow older, I get the occasional glimpse of their vulnerabilities. I think that is probably a combination of me becoming more astute and them letting me in. The part of me that doesn’t want to let go of my childhood feels slightly sad and insecure about the fact that my parents are fallible, but on the whole I’m proud that they respect and value me enough to let me see who they really are.

Both mum and dad are going through a down time at the moment. Late last week dad had yet another skin cancer cut out. I’d guess that he’d be up to about number 10. The results of the biopsy came back yesterday as malignant melanoma. They got it early enough so as to be able to remove it all effectively (dad is vigilant about getting checked – he can’t afford not to be) but it would still be a scary thing to hear.

Dad is one of those people that always sees the bright side of things, and even when there isn’t one, he never lets that affect those around him. He’ll come up with some stupid joke to deflect any concerns that people have. But I worry with him.

Mum is having a depressing time. She has been slogging her guts out for the last 5 years to get her PhD doctorate written whilst working full time and doing several volunteer positions. She gets up at 4am to write, and I don’t remember the last time she had a free weekend at home.

A couple of weeks back she announced that she had finished her writing and was just waiting to hear back from her supervisors. I have never seen her look so elated and relieved. It’s been like a monkey on her back for the last year or so. She no longer enjoys the writing – in fact, she hates it – but she’s too far gone to just let it go. Earlier this week she heard back from the supervisors, who told her that their stance on a whole lot of things they had said previously has changed, and that she still has a shit load of work ahead of her. It’s really broken her spirit and that is hard to see.

For the first time in my entire life she sent out an email to my siblings and I saying that she is devastated but is too angry and hurt to talk about it. We didn’t know how to react. Dave called me asking whether I was going to contact her. Then Mary emailed asking the same thing. Mum is our rock and we just don’t know what to do. The issue may seem like a trivial one to some people, but if you’d seen what she’s invested into this over the last few years it really puts things into perspective. It would be like building a house and watching it burn straight down before you moved in.

I emailed her yesterday saying that I was thinking of her. Her response really touched me. She mentioned that one of her close friends had commented on the fact that mum doesn’t really share things any more. She keeps her emotions bottled up. Mum said that in fact, that isn’t the case. It’s just that now we are her best friends and she comes to us for support.

I told her that that’s why I want children. I want people to love me as unconditionally as I love my mother.


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