Luzern, Switzerland

A year ago today, my mother died.

Edinburgh party

When her time came, she wanted to go quickly, at home and in the arms of her husband. Which is exactly what happened.

For the rest of us, her departure was sudden and shocking. Of course it had to happen, someday. The medical profession had given her mesothelioma everything in its arsenal, but the disease was relentless. We knew we’d lose her someday, but did it have to be so soon?

One year later, after the pain and tears and grief and enormous black hole where she used to be, what remains?

Quite a lot, actually.

Her passion was always for people. She embraced strangers and treasured relationships, whether family or friends. That much was visible at her funeral where far too many guests spilled out of the crematorium.

The colourful celebration of her life

Since she’s been gone, that elastic connection which can stretch so wide has contracted and brought us all together. Close family became closer, extended relatives got in contact and friends’ gentle words of sympathy reminded us that her kindnesses affected more lives than we could have guessed.

In addition to that, her behaviour acts as a benchmark. It’s only now I realise how deep her influence goes. Her sayings, her code of honour, her willingness to leave the house uncleaned to support a friend or rescue an animal, her fierce loyalty to those she loved and equal ferocity to their opponents, all make me more positive, determined and willing to change.

Terry, Mum and Florian above Lake Zurich

She never failed to tell us how proud she was of every one of our achievements – from first pooh in the potty to first grandchild to first book. I still want to run to her when I get a great review and say, ‘Look, Mum, someone liked it!’ She also pulled no punches when she found our behaviour lacking. One phrase often sneaks into my head when I get fractious: Patience is a virtue, and you, young lady, could do with a few more virtues.

Schaffhausen Falls

Most of all, my mother’s legacy was a sense of humour. She could laugh at all kinds of things, especially herself. I would love to think she was somehow present two weeks ago at the Lake of Zug, where her daughters, sons-in-law and husband were helpless with laughter at the classic Cooty stories.

I miss her. We all do. But we have so many precious memories.

Every day she’s gone makes me appreciate what she left behind.

São João – Porto