Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Thirty years without a mum...but the love's still there.

How do you feel, when someone so pivotal in your life....disappears suddenly, cruelly from it?

You feel cheated. Cheated because, selfishly, they're no longer there to support and comfort you. And angry for them, too, that they've gone too soon. Gone before they achieved half of the things they wanted to do. Gone because, while they were trying their best to fight it, the cancer hurt them. Scared them. Scarred them. Then consumed them.

Today it's thirty years since mum died of breast cancer at 55. She was diagnosed seven years before that--just before she was due to marry Bertie. He'd lost his first wife to breast cancer, and she thought hard about whether she should go through with it; whether it would be fair to him if things didn't work out. She was like that, our Jeannie. Putting other people first; worrying about their feelings. We talked to her doctors, went to the appointments. But no matter how much we thought we knew, the call that brought news of her sudden death, that grey February day, was still a world-stopping shock.

We hadn't talked about death. Didn't want to consider it.

I think she was trying to start a conversation about it one day when she was feeling rotten and the chemo and the drugs and the surgery weren't fighting as hard as she was. 'I'm sorry that things know...not looking so good,' she said--thinking of us. I can't remember what I said. Probably told her not to be silly, not to talk like that. I should have been brave enough to hear what she wanted to say. But I wasn't, so I put the kettle on and told her the snowdrops were coming up. Not suspecting that, this winter, they would see her out.

I could have stayed angry all of those thirty years, at our loss; the unfairness of it. I used to feel huge pangs of envy, soon after she died, spotting mothers and daughters out shopping; laughing in coffee shops, snatching a bite in their lunchbreaks like we used to do. We were all working in London, then. Jeannie,(the pet name Bertie used instead of Jean; one that we teasingly adopted too...) was (proudly) at the shiny, new Nat West Tower. She'd worked in the City most of her life. I was a young reporter on a doctor's paper in Soho, and would jump in a cab to and from EC2. My sister Ali worked in advertising--so we'd all meet there, laughing, often, that we'd turned up in the same colour. We barely had time to grab a snack within the confines of a London lunch hour, but it was worth every second. Nearly every time, she'd find someone at the bank to introduce us to--'showing us off', in our skirts and heels and lippie. When I joined the BBC and left London, she'd send me cards. Some had a fiver or tenner stuffed in the envelope...with an instruction to 'buy a cornet'. She was proud of her daughters, as I am of mine.

And, so, I could have stayed angry, that she never met her grandchildren. Not just Juliet and Alice, but my sister's son Chris. She would have loved them so much; been so proud of what they've all achieved. Angry that not just mum, but two of her sisters lost their lives to breast cancer, too. Angry that I couldn't ever call her for a chat, for advice, to share my great news and the stuff that made me sad. But anger; like cancer, can consume you, too. So it's OK in short, fiery flashes, I reckon...but not good for you if it drags on.

Instead, I've tried to do some important, more constructive things to take the place of anger at losing my mum too soon. Firstly; I try to stay close and true not just to my sister, whose memories are so similar to mine, but to my extended family. Jeannie was one of nine: six girls, three boys. Two remain. All of her siblings, and all of my cousins, and their children--are fabulous, funny, precious people. We're spread across the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA now, so social media keeps us connected between meet ups. Every day, those messages make me laugh. And while breast cancer took three of the six sisters, a fourth smashed it. Beat it twice. Told it who was boss. She's over ninety now. And looks amazing. Yep, breast cancer, take THAT.

Next: I try never to waste a second. Time, like people, is also precious.There's nothing like losing a mum too early, and then having a few hair-raising health scares yourself, to make you want to grab opportunities; to be only with people who warm your heart, and to travel. Not someday.This day. I'm glad Jeannie got the chance to do that, through Bertie's work. I still have her diary from a trip to New York--she went on Concorde and managed to phone me, so excitedly, before they took off. She went to San Francisco too--a place I had to add to the list when I did some travelling of my own a few months ago. She, like me, last September, would have hummed the Judy Garland song from a fast moving trolley as she held on tight, down those hills.

So, thirdly, if the person you've loved and lost is your mum: try to remember how strong that love felt. Her unconditional, motherly love didn't falter, even through the teenage years when I screamed stuff at her that I regretted in an instant. Lied to her, too, like when she spotted a packet of 10 'More Menthol' cigarettes poking out of my coat pocket and I swore blind that they belonged to Carol (actually, we'd gone halves)....even though my coat reeked of (slightly minty) smoke. She didn't even really mind that I'd changed the 13% to 43% on the physics exam result on my school report before I showed it to Dad. She just reminded me how good I was at English, instead.

So even though mum's been missing for most of my adult life...I'm here, and I can live by her values,(OK...forging a school report wasn't our greatest collaboration....) and be there, instead, for my own daughters. I love to tell them, and tell the world, that, every day, they make me proud. I send them cornet money sometimes too. Bank transfers, mainly. And no, I never found any fags in their pockets.

How about you? Ever been loved that much, by someone who's no longer around? If you remember that love... feel lucky. But above all: pass it on.

One fabulous family: Jim, Vic, Tony, Jeannie, Sheilah, Bette, Rita, Marjorie, Joan.
Alice, Juliet, me.

Jenefer Kell Lots of love to you both xxxx
Jane McIntyre Thanks Jen x
Annie Silvester Still bright and beautiful in my memories. Thinking of you xxx

Thinking of you Jane and sending you *hugs* Your mother was obviously a wonderful, caring and thoughtful person x

big hugs xxxx

A lovely blog - one that I can identify with.

A sad story full of love. Thank you for sharing

Lovely post. x

  1. Feb 10
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Jenefer Kell Lots of love to you both xxxx
Jane McIntyre Thanks Jen x
Annie Silvester Still bright and beautiful in my memories. Thinking of you xxx
Jane McIntyre That's sweet Annie. Thankyou xxx
Debbie Mitchell I can see where you and your girls got their beauty from. She was lovely. My mum was also called Jean, and she died from cancer at the age of 55. I miss her every day too. Much love to you petal xx

Debbie Mitchell we're still here though, able to enjoy sunny days and chocolate and friends and family 
Maureen Silvester · 11 mutual friends
Thank you Jane that is a poignant piece. Passing the love on is the best way of remembering xx
Jane McIntyre Flying the flag Deb! Currently in Camden about to boogie with Mark Kermode's skiffle band. Yeee hah !! X
Amy Borg · Friends with Debbie Mitchell and 4 others
Beautifully written, sorry for your loss. Haven't seen you for a long time but won't forget your warmth at radio Shropshire in the mornings and how welcoming you were. You certainly exude motherly love and your kids are very lucky x
LikeReply21 hrs
Jacqueline Williams Thank you Amy for commenting on this post as it enabled me to read it to. It's quite simply beautifully honest & I hope one of my FB friends gets to read it. Thank you Jane McIntyre x
LikeReply15 hrs
Jane McIntyre Gosh thankyou ladies. rocked and am sure you still do xx
LikeReply114 hrs
Jo Cunningham Spot on pal!

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Feb 10:
There's no grave. I can't leave flowers today. So I did this. About love, loss, and pride.

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