There are many women who have inspired me in the past, and who continue to do so today – and #WomenEd has been the vehicle which has brought me into contact with so many of them! But, at the moment, the woman who is particularly on my mind is my mum, Iris Barker, who I have known for almost 60 years and who has been unfailingly loving, supportive and proud of me throughout this time. This morning I was with her at breakfast when she received a visit from a new Social Services carer, and as I left the room I could hear mum starting to tell this young South African girl about ‘Making the Leap’!
Mum is 95 now, and not in the best of health, but I still love her company, and know she enjoys mine. Despite the difficulties we are dealing with together as she grows frailer, we still find things to laugh about, she still tells me she loves me every day and, whenever I leave her, she always thanks me for what I’ve done for her.
I consider myself extremely fortunate in having a parent who has always taken an ‘Of course you can!’ approach to anything I have attempted – personal or professional. Although she left school at 15, before the 1944 Education Act, as did many of her generation, she is a bright, interesting, thoughtful woman, and she always had respect for and faith in my educational opportunities which she could see would open doors for me. Although she, sadly, didn’t enjoy a positive relationship with her own mother, she has been a wonderful mum to her own children.
I love you, mum – and thank you.
Photo credit: John Berry – taken on Christmas Day, 2017.
(Postscript: Mum passed away on 12th February 2018. This is difficult to process at the moment – I will miss her so much! – but she died in her own home, which is what she wanted, I was with her, and John was there too. She seemed to have no pain or distress at the end, and, reflecting on the time I’ve spent with her, particularly since she became ill at New Year, I don’t feel there is anything important left unsaid or left undone. I am privileged and lucky.)