A letter to the daughters of my friend.
I love listening to people and helping them to resolve problems. I was working as a medical secretary and a hypnotherapist when I realised I could combine my NHS experience with my interest in counselling and psychology. I decided to become a PALS officer. I had no direct experience of the work so I arranged a period of work experience for myself in the Patient Advice and Liaison Service at University College Hospital, London.
For one year I spent one morning a week helping out in the PALS office, and this is where I met your mum. I admired her because she had already achieved what I wanted to become, and she was so good at her job. She could always remain calm while listening to a difficult or angry patient, she was polite yet firm when people were rude! She was kind and sympathetic, pragmatic and patient. She was quite recently married and longed to have a baby. I became pregnant and continued to work for the NHS as a medical secretary and also in the PALS office. When I was eight months pregnant I arrived at work for my very last day in the PALS office, before going off on maternity leave. Your mum was bursting with excitement and glowing with happiness. Her and your dad had just found out that they were expecting their first baby together!
Your mum and I both went on to have two girls each and became good friends. Our friendship was very much based upon sharing the mothering journey, learning how to be mothers, muddling through and sharing ideas and concerns. We went to child-friendly cafes, baby sing-alongs and The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. As they got older our eldest daughters played together. They would run about the soft play area in the Moorhen Pub while we indulged in coffee and chocolate cake.
Our girls were too small to climb right to the top on their own and go down the twisting tube slide. So your mum would climb up there with them, up three storeys of soft play climbing frame and slide down herself, landing in the ball pool with our two-year-old giggling girls.
I wrote a diary about my journey into motherhood, and your mum features in it quite a lot. Suddenly the memories that I have written down about the times we have shared have become incredibly precious to me.
I hope that you both have a wonderful life. Be true to yourself and follow your dreams. Live for the moment. Take care of your dad. Your mum loved him very much. One day I hope you will have a baby of your own. If you do, in those first few challenging days and weeks you will wish for the comfort, advice and support that only a mother can give to her daughter. I cannot give you that, but I can give you my memories of your mum, so that you know what kind of a mother she was. She was loving and kind, she was relaxed and playful. She laughed because I called her The Mellow Mum.
With love to you both, you are beautiful girls and your mum adored you. You made her very happy.
Memories of The Mellow Mum
A play date in Harlow, Essex
A woodland walk and a country pub, Broxbourne, Herts
A hospital visit