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Tribute to my mum, Margaret:

Tribute to my mum, Margaret: April 1938 – March 2023

Tribute to my mum, Margaret

April 2023 Dave, PinkUk

Tribute to my mum, Margaret: April 1938 – March 2023 My mum, Margaret Walsh.

I will start off with a bit about my childhood, to help build the picture, and that was generally a very happy and fulfilling experience.

I was born in a small hamlet three miles south of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, near the river Seven where I used to play in the mud looking for eels. Thinking about this now, I consider myself a very lucky kid. As far as I know, the river Seven had the second highest tidal flow in the world, so I experienced a very fast and dangerous flowing water when I was a kid. The tidal range can be as much as 15 metres, twice a day. I could walk there with a friend we were both just under 10, or go anywhere in the countryside by ourselves and lowed to go within a 5 plus mile radius of our house. None of this Namby Pandy stuff you have these days. My mum trusted me and I don't think my dad cared. Though I do have to say there was only one road we could cross and this was a ‘B’ road.

My mum was born a year before the war in April 1938 and lived in Instow, a village on the coast in North Devon. After getting married in September 1958, she and her partner moved to Bevington. She worked as an assistant in a firm of solicitors for four years until I was born and named David, after her late brother David who died just after he got married from a brain tumour in 1962, quickly followed by my sister Fiona in 1963. Margaret then devoted her time to bringing up her family, and become what was called a typical housewife and mother.

Mum carried on the love of gardening she got from her father. As well as flowers she grew fruit & veg, to be used in baking, jam & wine making. In the spring we would go out into the field collecting the dandelions for making dandelion wine, coming home with our hand stained from the sap. In the autumn we would be out again collecting blackberries for jam and elderberries for more wine. This time it our faces & clothes would purple from eating all the berries. There was also no shortage of apples, pears and plumbs due the number of small orchards that we not far away.

We had a large garden that must have been at least two acres that included a chapel that was originally build as an apple pressing building (we were in cider country) and graveyard in the grounds (now the chapel has changed use again to a 5-bedroom detached house). So, it was like the good life in that most of our fruit & vegetables were grown. We kept goats in the chapel for their milk and any male goats that were born we eat. We would even go out and find produce to make wine ie dandelions Elda flowers/berries. All my friends would play a game and choice the best mum and dad out off our parents. My mum was always picked as the best mum. In the early 1970s we moved to Leeds and my live went to rat shit, but we will leave that for another day. You would have thought that would have kept my mum busy but no! Being active was always important to my Mum, and I still don't know how she found the time. This included photography where she had a dark room to develop the negatives. She enjoyed horse riding & playing tennis.

Mum is in black with the rest of the British Judo team

In the late 1960s she took up Judo and became very successful, for a while, she was the top woman competing in the UK. She competing around the country obtaining her Black belt and second Dan, and passed the British Judo Association referee examination in 1971. She was also a qualified Judo coach. She taught Brian Jacks who went on to win Britain’s first medal at the Olympics in Munich 1971. He also went on to win ‘Superstars’ on TV. There were no female judo teams in the Olympic then, if there was, I'm sure she would have done very well. So maybe she was not a typical housewife. I now know where I got my drive to get into outdoor sports. In the late 1970s she went back to university and obtained a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy) in psychology. Mum & Stewart in Australia.

In the late 1970s my mum met her current partner Stewart. When they could they would go down to Headingley to watch Yorkshire cricket. They would also spend a few days in the summer at the Scarborough cricket festival. In 2004 Mum & Stewart were lucky enough to travelled to South Africa to watch England play in a test match series. After retiring, Mum and Stewart her partner of 45 years, who died three weeks before mum (another sad day), spent as much time as they could travelling the world. Their travels took them across 6 continents from Australia to Vietnam, through Egypt and Hong Kong and all the places in between. As Margaret began struggling with ill health their travels kept them nearer to home but they would still enjoy taking bus tours around the UK until a few of years ago. Their final trip was spending Christmas in Brighton to visit me. When we were kids we would say to each other who would we prefer to be out parents out of all our mums and dads. Every one would pick my mum. I regret not telling this to my mum this last time I saw her in hospital, even though I thought that would be the last time I would ever see her. my last image is giving here a drink of water via a tiny sponge on a stick. I love you mummy.



John Bellamy Comments: Before I even read this piece I was moved. Moved because very few have the opportunity to actually write and display a piece about the passing of their Mothers and as this is something we all go through, and as gay men, we often have a very special bond with our Mothers, I knew was going to - sadly - enjoy this read. I was not wrong, I found it very moving.

A friend recently barked at his Mother for forgetting something he had hoped she would remember and I did take him aside and remind him she was in her late 70's, - was not the keeper of his memories and that she had done the best she could and he needs to be gentle with her, thankful for what she had remembered and give her a big hug and not scold her. He did - and her face lit up with smiles. It is easy to assume our parents are perfect, or at least, will remember things as we remember them and quite simply, why should they ? You are not the centre of their world, you are a PART of their world and as most of us have long left home by the time they get old and leave us, we have built a whole world for ourselves at a time when the world they had built decreases as they retire from work and as we leave home and they find themselves - sometimes - either just the two of them together and nothing cohesive keeping them together - nothing to talk about now the children have left home - or even alone if and when one of them dies, as is often the case. My Mother was alone for 15 years after my Step Father died and she struggled more than we realized. She was lonely, and while she was not the best at making friends, it really was down to her - but in her 70's to try and make friends for the first time in decades, probably MANY decades - she struggled.

So be thankful if your parents are still with us and take a moment to at least acknowledge what they did for us - as if nothing else, she gave birth to you and you will not get another opportunity once they are gone and that's when you wish you'd taken the time to say so much that will now never be said, be it good or bad, and that is up to you.


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