Andy Richardson: I may forget mum’s birthday but I give her undying love

By Andy Richardson | Weekend | Published:

I forgot her birthday. And given the reminders from a helpful sister and loving father, forgetting was no mean feat. Easier to remember, easier to dutifully go and buy a card, easier to do acknowledge my mother’s birthday there and then than to prevaricate and….. forget. So I took the difficult option, trusted my fallible self to remember later on and when I spoke to my father on the day of my mother’s birthday blustered some nonsense about going round at the weekend with a gift. I. Am. Hopeless.

It’s not as if I’d not had 49 years in which to come up to speed. But while a brilliant sister and laid back brother have embedded the date in their memory banks, the best I’ve done is lodge the special day in, erm . . .

I ought to point out that I’m equally inept and remembering other birthdays. I can pinpoint the special day of she who must be obeyed to within three days, though I’d have as much chance as getting it right as I would have of sticking £100 on the winner of the Grand National.

It’s the same story with my dad. November’s the best I can manage. My nephew is February, I think, or is that March as well? Gah. I don’t know. I can manage my son – though, when things get sketchy, I have been known to refer to the tattoo in my inner bicep, where it’s helpfully inked. My sister is easy – January 30 – my late nan was simple too – April Fool’s Day – while uncle’s straightforward. It’s December 30, or 31st. One of the two. And yet, oddly, I remember my own.

I hurried to my parents’ three days after my mother’s birthday, laden with flowers and useless excuses. She Who Must Be Obeyed was sunshine and light, my mother was magnanimity itself while my father graciously decided not to comment on the thoughtless inability of his number two son to stick a date in his three calendars. Thanks dad. Sorry.

Wife One was forever reminding me that Clever People Have No Common Sense. And given that I had the best exam results in school, quit a PhD because I was bored and did a survey that put me in the top one percentile of brainy people in Britain, I think she may have been referring to me.

I don’t think my mother was too troubled about the fact I’d been late on her birthday. She knows me well enough to realise I’m not going to improve; that at this stage in the game it’s easier to give up hope than imagine I’ll one day make the breakthrough.

And besides, there are a million other ways I’ve shown her how much I love her over the years. For she’s ever been the biggest influence on my life, the one who’s offered support in times of crisis, the one who’s encouraged me to fly on the thermals, following my dreams and seldom coming down.

Were it not for her selflessness and devotion, I’d have checked out some time ago. During a disastrous relationship to a conwoman for whom the word duplicity was invented, she pulled me back from the brink. Having lost all, I was ready to check out. The clock was ticking. In the words of Andrea Boccelli, it was Time To Say Goodbye. Her intervention brought about a change of mind less than a minute before it’d have been too late. And I’m glad it did. I’d never have seen England beat New Zealand in the World Cup, smelled the beautiful early summer fragrance as jasmine lingers in the air, or met She Who Must Be Obeyed – a keeper if ever there was one – had she not.


I returned the favour a couple of years later. During a bout of ill health, my mom was doing her usual thing of smiling through the pain. She’d rejected the persuasive arguments of other family members to go to hospital but luckily I got through. We struck a deal and she arrived on the ward 48 hours later, just in time to be saved by doctors from a massive heart attack that in other circumstances would have turned out the lights. 1-1. And let’s stop playing that life and death game now.

So I forgot her birthday. But there have been a million and one ways down the years in which I’ve shown my gratitude and appreciation, my unconditional and undying love, my humility and respect, my sense of wonderment that one human being could be so loyal and beautiful, so kind and selfless, so sweet and tender, so much fun.

I’m getting in early for next year. I know it’s not until the something or other. But Happy Birthday Mom. Have a great day.

Andy Richardson

By Andy Richardson
Feature Writer - @andyrichardson1

Feature writer and food critic Andy Richardson interviews celebrities, writes columns and hangs out with chefs for stories that appear across all group titles.

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