When I emigrated to Vancouver with my husband, Vince, in February 1990, I felt both excited to be having this new adventure, but at the same time, I felt almost bereaved. I was so close to my family, and Mum and I had a special bond. She was my best friend. We promised we would write every day, and we did, literally chatting on paper and we kept this up for the almost ten years I was there. The letters started out short, but eventually, we were writing pages and pages to each other and would post them off every ten days or so. I think the longest is 53 pages long!! We wrote exactly as if we were having a conversation over a cuppa and it was a HUGE comfort. Needless to say, I have heaps of these incredible letters and memories, along with photos, newspaper clippings and greeting cards for literally any little reason! Vince used to say my Mum kept Hallmark in business!! My visits to England, and Mum and Dad’s visits to Vancouver, were so exciting and I cherished every single second, but each time we parted, it was agony. I would of course, settle back into routine, but my family were always missing.
I have wanted for years, since Mum passed away in 1998, to do something with these letters. My dream has always been to turn them into a book, but the volume of letters is overwhelming and to be honest, the thought of revisiting all the emotions has held me back. It’s the most wonderful reminder of how much Mum and I loved each other and how easy our relationship was, even at such a long distance. And so, I have decided to start from the beginning with a blog to share my journey with excerpts from the letters. I hope it will be a comfort to those people who live across the world from their families, and also to help those who have lost someone they love. And hopefully along the way I will, at some point, be able to assemble everything into a book.
Living abroad became harder: firstly, when I had my daughter, Emma, in 1993 and wanted to share every second with Mum and Dad. Then, secondly, when Mum became ill and passed away in February 1998. She was 53 years young and had survived six years from breast cancer, which secondarily went to her bones, then her liver. We moved back to England in June 1999 with our two children, Emma and Ryan. Emma was five and Ryan was just 8 months. I found out I was pregnant with Ryan just after Mum died, so was unable to tell her. A life for a life, everyone said. Edie was born in England in 2000. It’s so sad for me that Mum never met Ryan or Edie, or my brother’s two daughters, or saw the children growing up, but it is my belief that she watches over us in spirit. Mum was the strongest person I know.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do not regret our time in Vancouver, we have the most wonderful memories and made lifetime friends, and at least we can say we did it, instead of always wondering ‘what if’. The letters and photos will reflect this as I progress with the story.
My lovely Dad is still here, and we see him often. I will be drawing on his memories and raiding his house for more photos and memories to accompany this blog! I have two brothers, one close to home, and one who is still in Vancouver who moved there shortly after us. He is married to a lovely Canadian lady and is happy with his life there.
Reading these letters has reminded me of the small but important things in life. Mum loved the sun, she loved her garden, she loved her job as a Dental Nurse, she loved my Dad and she loved her family. In the book of remembrance at the crematorium, it reads:
Mavis Ann Figg
Who lived for those she loved
And those she loved
Will love her forever
I have called the blog simply: Love, Mum x