A special salute to my mum on the 25th anniversary of her death |Sue Plunkett
This week marks 25 years since the death of my mum.
I don't normally observe anniversaries in a big way but this one is dfferent somehow, a landmark.
As an only child my mum was not only a parent, she was my best friend, my confidante, my biggest critic and my greatest fan.
She spent her life preparing me for the day when she would no longer be around, if that makes sense.
Definitely a woman ahead of her time, she refused her rebellious streak came out at the ageo of 14 when she refused to join her father working in a mill. When he thought she was starting her first day at work she was actually attending an interview with for an office job, competing against girls who were much better educated and suited to the role.
But it was Irene Clarkson, my mum, who got the job and went on to forge a successful career working for the Burnley branch of a large Darlington based company., rising to management level. That was no mean achievement for a woman in the 60s and 70s.
And even back then she was a champion of equal pay and rights for women in the workplace, she wasn't afraid to speak her mind and I remember it earned her so much respect from her colleagues and staff.. even if they were a little bit scared of her too!
I always believed my mum could do anything, she seemed to have the solution to any problems and she was always striving to better herself, not in a social climbing way, but in a learning sense. She bought herself a dictionary and would learn a new word every day.
She was a grafter.. working full time for as a long as I can remember, while running a home and looking after me and my dad who had a series of health issues.
Family was everything to her and she was also one of the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever known, to strangers and to anyone who needed help.
"If you have the power to help someone just do it," she would tell me.
And she did that in spades. From picking up random little old ladies at bus stops to take them to wherever they were going to fighting the corner of a teenage boyfriend of mine who got himself in trouble with the police and had no-one else to stick up for him.
Like most mums, mine was always on hand with advice, help and guidance and, quite annoyingly, she was always right. She was the best judge of character of anyone I have ever known, it was almost like she had special powers!
Her sudden death, at the age of just 67, was a cruel blow. But she always used to say to me "I will go out like a light."
And she did just that. I lost my mum and the greatest friend I have ever had that day, in one go.
It fills me with sadness she never got the chance to meet my two children but I've told them all about her. And, as so many people say about the loss of a loved one, 'never a day goes by when I don't think about her.' My dad too, who died three years after my mum.
I grieved for a long time but eventually came to cherish the wonderful memories of my life with such a terrific lady, who meant the world to me.
I just hope I have done her proud.