March has always been significant to me, primarily because it was the month I chose to enter the world way back in 1983.
4 years ago it became even more significant as just 7 short days after my 31st birthday, on the 18th March, our mother passed away after an epic 18 month battle with cancer. It was battle she fought with humour and dignity right up until the end. She didn’t choose the disease but she would certainly choose the narrative.
She was a fierce proponent of the equality, particularly when it came to women’s rights. No one was too big or too powerful to be taken down a peg or two. And she was quick to put pen to paper when she felt there was some injustice to right. Many a frosty phone call was received by an ultra-religious relative, asking her either to use her marital name (so as to not be associated with them), or preferably not to be “attacking the good church”. She did neither. She wouldn’t be silenced by anybody.
We never discussed abortion in detail but I’ve no doubt that she was firmly pro-choice. I know that on International Women’s Day on the 9th March she would have been out in force, joining one of the marches in support of repealing the 8th Amendment. I’d have more than likely made an inappropriate joke that it was 35 years too late for her.
March 2014, while we essentially waited for her time to depart, was the month dad and myself decided to shave our heads and beards, and raise money for both Cancer Care West & Galway Hospice. In two short weeks we, through very generous donations from family, friends, and Facebook acquaintances I barely knew, raised €2,000.
On the 12th March, my good friend Brian Redmond did the honours for me. 4 years later, to the day, I sat in the same chair and waxed lyrical about where the four years had taken us.
I know, had she been alive, during the Ireland v England rugby game two weeks ago, she’d be telling my father “not to be shouting, you’ll give yourself a heart attack”…. and he would take it on board, at least for a little while until the next near try or heavy tackle. I spent the very same weekend in London, meandering down the various streets of Camden, SoHo, Westminster and the likes, many of the same streets she would have set foot upon during her carefree early 20’s whilst living in London.
March 11th this year I celebrated by 35th birthday. It was also Mother’s Day. With all this in mind, and knowing I would never get to buy a shitty Hallmark Mother’s Day card or present again, I’ve began donating the money I would have spent to a number of organisations I know she would have appreciated. First up last week was Galway Rape Crisis Centre, an organisation that does so much with so little. An organisation that should not be necessary but is vital.