I have been thinking about writing a piece on my second mum for a while now, as my early childhood wasn’t the norm – but then who’s is?!! Anyway, on our recent second honeymoon to Sardinia Kev and I started telling funny stories about my second mum and he then said “you need to write a blog about her”. So here it is …….
I am very lucky to be blessed with two mums and an amazing grandmother. My nan is just awesome, a fighter of a woman with a dirty old lady sense of humour! She had a wonderful friend I knew as my aunt Rose who’s next door neighbour was a very loving mother of three who was the social butterfly of her neighbourhood. Her name was Christine AKA Chrissie, auntie Chris or auntie Chrissie to all the kids. Always laughing, joking and gossiping that’s how everyone knew her.
When I was around 18 months old I got to live with this fiery cockney mother of three boys. She offered to be my childminder but when my mum (Pinky) went back to work I ended up staying with auntie Chris in the week and going back to mum at the weekend. Some people may think that is odd but I didn’t especially as I got older. My mum was a teenager when she had me and for many reasons, mainly down to their age and lack of control of the situation (me), my dad was not present.
I was very luckily to have had them in my life ………. I didn’t see colour in our large extended family
So I went from an only child to the youngest of 3 boys! Three boisterous, stinky boys!! I had a chairbed that went between Steve and Rob’s single beds and Paul had his own room. I would always need to be in bed earlier than them as I was the youngest, so when they came to bed they’d play “how many times can we jump from bed to bed over Elisha”. I lost count of the amount of times I wished they would smack into each other as they crossed in the middle instead of freaking me out!
I love those boys, all grown up with kids of their own now! Robert’s wife is one of my best friends, my crazy Kelly. As kids we all went to each others birthday and family parties. They got too rough with the Mr Wimpy mascot at my 3rd birthday party – mum said she had to tip the girl who was in the costume!! If I remember rightly it was my Uncle Colin, Chrissie’s husband that taught me to ride my bike without stabilisers. We lived in a close with 8 houses around a green, where all the kids from those houses would play together after school and on the weekends.
Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and the symptoms began to worsen around the time I turned 8. As a result, I moved back to living with my mum as she was unable to child mind anymore. I didn’t see her as regular as I should have but she was always guiding me though. I remember writing her letters to keep her up to date with my life. When I thought I wanted to try to find my dad I wrote to her about it. When I went travelling around the world at 20 years old and experienced my first truly racist encounter – nothing special just a guy shouting go back Jamaica to which I replied “gladly it’s the best have you been?!” I wrote auntie Chris and uncle Colin a letter. Explaining that I was very luckily to have had them in my life, especially in my early years, because I didn’t feel any different to them. I didn’t see colour in our large extended family. Some would say I was sheltered and that was not good, but I say it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I treated people how they treated me and not based on anything to do with colour.
When I heard that auntie Chrissie and uncle Colin had split up, I called my mum and told her we had to go and see her. I met my mum at the train station, the same day, after work and we went straight round. We hadn’t seen auntie Chrissie in a couple of years, by this point, but we had to see her. I remember we were both scared as we looked at each other after knocking the door. A familiar “who is it” came from behind the door and we shouted “Pinky and Elisha”. The door opened and there was my auntie Chrissie with a bright smile. Then as we hugged her we all cried. I’m so sad that it took me so long to find my way back to her, but I am so blessed that I did. After that it was like we hadn’t spent anytime apart, except with one difference – I now had two mums. I called my Mum – Mum and I called auntie Chris – Mum and it is the most natural thing in the world.
She always gets her words confused and has a mouth like a sailor at times, which I absolutely love – she is a comedy in herself!!
My house and mum’s (Chris) house were only two roads apart now as I had moved to my own house in Langley the year before. She is the master of cleaning, her skills are amazing! Her laundry actually smells like heaven!! We would go food shopping together and pottering around charity shops. Mum has a nose for finding really good bits in charity shops, figurines, clothes and kids toys. Plus, she has the Londoner haggle down pat. I love it when we go shopping she’ll be at one end of the shop shouting “daughter, daughter where are you?”. I have to reply shouting “mum, mum I’m here!!” We are loudmouths in my family blood or not😂!! As we get closer we are still shouting for each other and can see people looking oddly coz she’s white and I’m black!! You should see the looks😂. She would do little naughty things like steal little bits from a shop. I know it’s wrong but she is in constant pain and it gives her a little thrill. Don’t get me wrong she does get told off by me and my sis-in-law but it does make us giggle after!! She always gets her words confused and has a mouth like a sailor at times, which I absolutely love – she is a comedy in herself!!
I’m just as nuts as her and she knows it:
- she had me drive from Rob’s house to hers on her mobility scooter in a cowboy hat to collect his and Kelly’s engagement cake.
- She gave me half a diazepam when I stayed at hers one night after an ex brought drama my way – I was 24 at the time. She told me in the morning “it was mainly so you didn’t leave at night and sort the fucker out again!”
- First time she met Kevin we walked in to her house and she shouted “Lish you’ll never guess what that shit has done now”. Then she saw Kev and said “Oh I’m sorry love” blushed and then followed it up with “Oh aren’t you a handsome boy! Oh er you’ve got come to bed eyes you have!”.
- I told her Kevin was Swedish and by the time I’d spoken to my brother Paul a couple of weeks later he thought Kevin was a Jewish German thanks to mum.
- When walking to the car a guy from the Chinese shop shouted “hello Chrissie” and as I asked her who it was she said “oh he’s called Hong Kong something or other”.
- When I called to tell her I was pregnant she said “fuck off Lish!!” only because she didn’t believe me and that was her reaction to shocking news!!
- She took the knitted clothes off her collector dolls and put them on Eva when she was a newborn.
- People who have the biggest hearts are normally the ones who are the most vulnerable.
Mum (Chris) has ones of the biggest hearts I have ever known and her love for children is blinding. She connects with any child immediately. She was a childminder for other children apart from me, but I was the only one that lived with her. She literally is a baby whisperer. I always ask her for advice with Eva and she’s always right on the money!! We took Eva to see her when she was around 3 months and within a couple of hours of being there we heard Eva give out a belly laugh. Mum was talking to her and tickling her and we heard our baby girl laugh out loud for the first time!!!
I’m like her we like to have a laugh and love being silly as we both know how quick the serious side comes in and bites you on the arse. We both live with depression but her is much more intense than mine, understandbly so. I wish I lived closer to her as her illness makes her unable to travel. She is in constant pain every single day and that makes my heart break for her. Her illness has taken its toll not only mentally but physically and although she can be hard work at times, the laughs and memories we make are totally worth it. Despite what life has dealt her she still loves hard and brings laughter too. When you are at a point when your body flares up against itself so much that you just writhe in pain and need help to do the simplest things, it’s a living hell I can’t begin to imagine. I love her to the moon and back!
So please remember:
- Just because we smile doesn’t mean we aren’t in pain.
- Just because we don’t ask for help doesn’t mean we don’t need it.
- Just by saying “I wish I could help” to us, even when you can’t, can make all the difference.
- People who have the biggest hearts are normally the most vulnerable.