This post won’t be going out on Twitter or Facebook. It’s just for the real ones that find the site every day because they’ve been coming here for years, so I hope you’ll indulge me 3 minutes of your time.
It’s my Mum’s birthday today. She passed on January 3rd after a short illness. I know many of you have shared your experiences of grief in the comments, so I thought it’d only be fair if I shared mine, because it’s really hard, and sometimes it’s comforting to know you are not alone. There’s also no greater honor than having thousands of people read about what an awesome person you were and how much you were loved.
My Mum wasn’t an Arsenal fan. In fact, she was the anti-Arsenal-fan. Use of the word ‘Arsenal’ or any of the associated trigger words for ‘Gooner chat’ were prohibited at family events. I don’t think she ever went to a game, she never wore a shirt, and she would never indulge a conversation about the electric on-field chemistry between Dennis Bergkamp and Freddie Ljungberg.
But she loved that I loved it. She’d tune into a radio station if I had 12 seconds of airtime to talk about Arsene Wenger. She’d collect newspaper clippings if I had something in The Times or a fancy magazine. She’d loosely brag about the things I was doing to anyone that would listen, even if she had absolutely no idea what they were.
Everyone needs someone like that in their life and I was lucky enough to have that in my mum. Total support for a passion she didn’t understand.
I like to write about philosophy, culture, and values when it comes to Arsenal. Today, I’m going to share a few things I learned from her.
Be good to people when it counts. Life is short, petty grievances feel bigger than they are, you never know what is around the corner. Pride is overrated. Empathy isn’t a weakness. Kindness is never wasted, regardless of how it’s received. You won’t ever regret a conversation with a loved one. So make the effort when it counts.
Let your people know you are in their corner. We live in a world engineered for connection that can feel incredibly lonely. Be a reliable person to those you love. You never know what that can mean to the person on the other side of that gesture.
Say yes to everything. My mum was usually my brain trust on new opportunities, her answer was always, ‘yes, do it, you’ll never regret an adventure’… sounds cliche, but I’ve said yes to a whole bunch of dumb stuff and I don’t even regret the bad yeses. Yes has opened the door to a better life and I am thankful every day that she always shoved me in the right direction.
No sad faces. She believed that a life was better lived with a smile on your face. In her last month, that was her one instruction if you were at her side, no sad faces. I’ve never witnessed strength like it. Having your happy life cut short with no bitterness, sadness, or complaints. The only thing she wanted to talk about was weddings she wouldn’t attend and grandkids she wouldn’t meet. That is real power and I couldn’t be prouder or more inspired by it.
Final value. One that I want you to take very seriously if you can. I once went a few weeks without calling her, she called me and said, ‘Pete, real men call their mum.’
… and I always did.
Thank you for reading.
Love you dearly, Mum x
P.S. There’s no greater buzz than showing your mum a piece of work you’ve made and her loving it. This was the last bit that I showed her and she showed it to her friends when they’d go to see her. The poem is about new beginnings and optimism. Kind of beautiful. Xx