Sunday, 30 March 2014

The biggest influence of all

Blackpool, 1961.
It's a tough day, being the first Mother's Day since my mum passed away, but I couldn't let the day go by without posting something about her. I was extremely lucky in that my mum (or my mam as I always called her, as we do in these parts) had such a kind and gentle soul and was always supportive in everything I did. 

Mam bought me my first comics, taught me to read before I started school, and encouraged me to draw. I produced my own comics as a child, in biro on folded sheets of cartridge paper, and mam would stitch the pages together with needle and thread because we didn't have a stapler. When, at age 20, I quit my dead-end job, mam encouraged me in my ambitions to be a comic artist.


Blackpool, 1966.

We were always a small, close family. My dad had died suddenly in 1974 and mam never remarried. My Aunt Joan, who lived a street away, had slight learning difficulties so mam and I were always around to help or just give her guidance. Mam was devoted to looking after Joan, moreso as they grew older and Joan's arthritis affected her walking. Although I bought my own house in 1990 it was only a few minutes walking distance away so that I could help out too. 

Aunt Joan passed away in 2006, and mam's health deteriorated after then too, so caring for her increasingly took up more time as I'd see her several hours every day. Not that I minded. As you can appreciate from the few things I've mentioned here, I owe my mum everything. I would never have gained an interest in comics without her initial encouragement in my reading and drawing, and I would certainly never have pursued a career in comics without her unwavering support. She was not only my mother, she was my best friend, with a great sense of humour, always young at heart, and good company.

Mam, 1996.
As I posted here last year, mam died last May after a nasty fall in her kitchen (possibly caused by a stroke, but I'll never know for sure as the brain damage was too severe). No family left now. Having been so close to her all my life, the grief is still there every day. I know it's hard for some people who haven't been in that situation to understand such loss, or if they rarely see their parents, or have never been too close to them, but there are no rules when it comes to grieving. 

My mam, who never put herself first, who selflessly devoted her life to my grandad, my aunt, my dad, and me, would want me to keep going. So I carry on, because as I said, I owe her everything. 

10 comments:

Peter Gray said...

Very moving and lovely tribute to your Mam...
Peter and Carolx

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, both of you.

wilsia said...

Lovely tribute Lew. Thank you for sharing it with us.My mum passed away 5 years ago and there is not a day that I dont think about her. I owe my love of comics to my mum as she would read them to me from a small age and faithfully get me my weekly comic every week.
Her favourie comic was the "Rainbow" because of the Bruin Boys which she loved and of course the stip was till running when I was being read the nursery titles so I became a fan of Tiger Tim and co.

When your mum goes a part of you goes as well but I know that we can take solace on the beautiful memories and I know that I will see her again in heaven

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Very nice Lew - seems a similar story from all us comic nuts and our mum and dads etc sad as it is/was we were lucky to have such amazing parents- was thinking about you on Mothers Day it tough going through these "firsts" without them here (though suspect it never really gets better) - nice words from Wilsa as well - take care all of you.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Paul. Yes, I'm sure it was a tough day for you too. We were indeed lucky to have such good mothers, and, although it's still relatively early days, trying to focus on happier memories is what will get us through our losses in the end. Best regards.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks wilsia.

Phil Boyce said...

Very touching Lew, thoughts are with you, I can't imagine what it's been like for you. My mum bought me all my comics as a kid too, and today she can't believe that silly thing about pigs is becoming a bigger and bigger thing in my life, so I thank your mum for encouraging you to pursue your dream, and in turn how her inspiration in you has encouraged so many other comics artists.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Phil. We all know parents won't be around forever but it was the suddenness of her death that hurts the most. She was increasingly frail, and housebound, but otherwise ok. Then she had the fall/stroke and was gone after 12 days semi-conscious in hospital. So cherish every day with your mum Phil. Fate is too unpredictable.

Phil Boyce said...

Oh I do Lew. Oh we used fight the bit out in the last year or so I lived at home, but ever since we've become like best friends and I'm actually planning on moving back to my hometown this year again to be closer to my family, especially with my nanny not very well. Hope you're doing okay yourself.

Lew Stringer said...

Good lad.

I'm up and down. Mum had a lot of sadness in her life so it's difficult looking back sometimes, especially remembering how her frailty was hindering her in her later years and how it depressed her. Hopefully in time I'll be able to look back on the happier memories without thinking of her final days.