Belfast Telegraph

Yes, Mum, you're right as usual, and I owe you a great deal

By Gail Walker

A while back I wrote a piece in this column about my late dad - how he was kind, decent, great fun. The day it appeared I rang my mother, as I always do on the way into work, just to see that she was up and about and all was well.

Indeed she was up and about but all was clearly not well. "I've just seen the paper," she said. "That was some piece about your dad, I'm wondering what I've been doing all my life."

Of course, initially I was outraged, as only adult children can be when pulled up short by a parent.

But when I thought about it, my mother was right, as usual.

I wouldn't be writing this today if it hadn't been for her.

Denied opportunity herself, she was adamant that I got the same grammar school education as my brother. "You'll both get the same opportunities, then if you make a mess of it it won't be my fault," was how she put it.

My dad was a soft touch, easily persuaded on cold mornings that a day off school would do no harm.

But left to him, I'd still be in bed reading Just 17.

Mum was about getting on, and she supported me in every way. Driving to speech and drama festivals all over the country, no matter about the Troubles.

Standing by a tennis court at dusk as another match went to five sets, muttering "go for the backhand". Ringing the local paper when I was 16 to get me a job over the summer holidays. She made anything seem possible.

Dad taught me things too, like how to ride a runaway pony bareback. (Hang on desperately until he caught it).

But that doesn't get you anywhere except off the animal in one piece if you're lucky.

Understandably, he swore me to secrecy about that incident so that'll come as a surprise to you today Mum when you read this, as you will because you read everything I write.

In fact, this entire piece will come as a surprise to you, too. And now that it's printed here you'll be embarrassed and ask why I put this in the paper for everyone to see and say the things mothers say like: "I did nothing really, no more than any mum would do."

But we both know that's not true. Happy Mother's Day.

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