With International Womens Day on Saturday 8th March Team Honk are encouraging us to celebrate inspirational women by sharing stories of a woman who has inspired us during our life time. My Mum is my inspiration and words I would use to describe her would be strong, independent, reliable, grafter, determined, giver, carer, disorganised, random, innovative, resourceful, trusting, honest, clever and loyal.
Before she was married to my Dad in 1969 she was a teenager had already began saving hard for a deposit for their first home. Mum was really good with money, whereas my Dad wasn't, so she saved every penny of her wages without relying on Dad, which meant they could buy their first home in East London and it cost them £7,000. Mum pushed my Dad to make things happen and after renovating their first home she decided it would be a great idea to buy some land and build their own house on it.
Self building in London was virtually unheard of during the early 70's. Young families just didn't do it, but Mum spotted an opportunity and along with Dads building skills they built a gorgeous four bedroomed detached house. Because of Mum's ingenuity they were mortgage free by the time they were 30. Mum made things happen and in 1981 after Mum & Dad split she sold the house they built together, gave Dad his half and bought another property. A property that had a large garden, a garden big enough to build another house. She was a single mother of four children, all under under eleven and she built her own house. I couldn't be more in awe of her strength and resourcefulness, bearing in mind our Dad never paid her one penny in child support.
After the divorce Mum's first concern was to make sure us kids were ok. We idolised our Dad and after they split we hardly saw him. He was a free man and we were very quickly forgotten. I can still picture my two youngest brothers sitting at the living room window with their wavy brown hair brushed to one side and their little shoes polished, tears rolling down their cheeks because yet again our Dad hadn't turned up to collect us for the weekend.
It was hard on Mum, but she still never once criticised our Dad, instead she would scoop us all up, put us in her grey beatle and take us to Southend to cheer us up and when Dad was going through a particularly distant phase she packed up our tent and took us camping to Jersey, where we spent two weeks on the beach. I guess this is why I now find the sea so healing.
Mum did go on to marry again, although her choice in 2nd husband was painfully wrong. He was verbally & physically abusive to my younger brothers and he made my Mum unhappy. When she divorced him, she had to start all over again and had to cope with the fact that a lot of her friends (and even her brother) didn't support her decision to divorce, not believing this charming, friendly chap was in fact abusive. A lot of her friends turned their backs on her, and it was the first time I had ever seen my Mum cry as one by one her friends stopped calling.
However, in true style my Mum picked herself up and packed herself off to the University of East London, gained a degree in psychosociology, made new friends, renovated another house and was one of the first Brits to buy a house in Bulgaria, again accomplishing so much as a single Mum. She totally loved Bulgaria, it's people, culture and scenery, her next venture would have been to retire over there and we laughed as I told her she would 'do a Shirley Valentine', sadly though it wasn't to be.
My Mum was one of those people who made you believe that anything is possible, wishes can come true and that you can achieve whatever you want from life. Positive thinking and self fulfilling prophecies were often discussed and I miss her strength of character so much. Because of Mum I married my soul mate and have remained married to him, she encouraged me to constantly work on my marriage and to be happy, she knew Papa Syder was meant for me even during the times I doubted it.
I wish I had Thanked Mum for all she did before she passed away in 2006, for her positive outlook on life and her determination to succeed. My Mum was a true inspiration.