Christa Ackroyd: Why family is gift enough on Mother’s Day

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I didn’t know how I would feel this Mother’s Day, my first without Mum.

I only knew Mum would be furious if she thought that every special day from now on would be ruined by dwelling on memories of the past instead of concentrating on making memories for the future.

But that was mum’s way of looking at life. And at death.

Mum believed you should count your blessings from the moment you wake up until the minute you fall asleep.

And now she is no longer here to remind me of that simple truth I have to admit I am, at last, discovering it for myself, especially when I think of her. I know Mum, about time too.

And so Mothering Sunday, as she always called it, was wonderful, but very different.

I never understand just how different it would be.

But then I had sixty years to celebrate it with her.

Yes mum, we were luckier than most. But that doesn’t make it any easier now she is not here. I suspect it never will.

So we celebrated in the way she loved best, in the way we always did, together as a family.

This Mothering Sunday beside a favourite family photograph of her and me together I placed a large tub of tiny daffodils.

Those flowers symbolise everything that mum was and still is to us.

Mum didn’t do showy. She didn’t do extravagant . She like to strip away the complexities of life.

Her greatest pleasures were found in the simplest of things, fish and chips on a Friday, the occasional box of chocolate gingers and time spent with family and friends.

And in the spring always a bunch of daffs or daffies, as she called them, on the window sill.

Mum never spent money on herself. The only flowers she ever bought were those bunches of daffodils and then always bought tightly in bud so they would last, placed in the same green glass vase that had been her mum’s .

A bunch of daffodils were a Mother’s Day tradition.

If you ever bought her anything she considered too expensive she would always say ‘Oh Christa it’s lovely but it’s too much. A bunch of daffies would have been quite sufficient’. And it was.

I know why daffodils were so symbolic to mum.

Spring was her favourite time of year. It was when she was born. But it is where she was born that makes the daffodil so significant.

In the heart of the North York moors in Rosedale Abbey and in the valley’s surrounding it, especially Farndale, millions of miniature wild daffodils bloom every year along the riverbanks.

As a child mum and her friends, most of whom remained friends for a lifetime, picked little bunches of them for their mums in the 1930s.

As often as we could we would go back to Rosedale to see those daffies, a reminder that no matter how dark the winter, those flowers will always appear, their cheeriness heralding the Spring.

And that’s why she loved them. Because she saw them as a lesson on life.

Mum died a year ago next week. Her last flowers on Mother’s Day had been daffodils.

At her funeral her grandchildren and even her great grandchildren handed out bunches of them to her friends and family.

They and other Spring flowers had adorned her coffin. We also ate fish and chips.

I wonder if my daughter knows the significance of her Mother’s Day present to me.

Mum certainly won’t have missed it, a beautiful display of daffodils bulbs in full bloom proudly presented to me by three year old Matilda and one year old Margot.

That was the first time that day I had tears in my eyes.

They were Mum’s favourite variety, tete a tete, producing an abundance of miniature daffodils as near as you can get to the millions that grow in the wild at our special place.

Translated tete are tete means head to head. In the dictionary it goes on to say it also means a private conversation between those close to you.

For a moment I wanted just one more conversation.

But then I talk to her every day.

You are right mum. As a mother, or grandmother, all you need on Mother’s Day is a bunch of daffies. Everything else is a gift enough .