Memories of my mum

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 7th May 2015

IMG_1689I’ve been thinking about my mum a lot this week. She would have been 80 on May 2 and ten years after her death I still miss her more than I can say.

She was glamorous, fun, a brilliant journalist and the wisest person I’ve ever known. As many of her devoted Daily Mail readers said after she died in 2004, she had the rare gift of summing up exactly what they thought – before they even realised it themselves.

As for me, I relied on her advice about everything, from how to get my wide-awake baby daughter to sleep at night to how to cope with a tricky boss. “Just muddle along, darling,” she’d laugh, and she was absolutely right. At the incredibly moving service of celebration and thanksgiving for her life at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street my sister, brother and I all read extracts from her work. My choice was a piece from her book, Class Act, because it summed up her belief that her loving, close-knit Lancashire upbringing was the key to everything she’d achieved in her life.

“Recently somebody said to me, ‘you come from nothing, Lynda, don’t you?’” she wrote. “It sounded more offensive than was intended and presumably, meant that my family had no titles, no land and no social position. However, I had love, support, laughter and emotional security.”

As usual, my mum hit the nail on the head. If you’ve got emotional security – the knowledge that your parents love, appreciate and have all the time in the world for you – then it’s impossible to go far wrong. I was one of the lucky ones. I always knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that my mother would go anywhere and do anything for me. She used to say “ring me at two in the morning if you need me,” and really meant it. She knew immediately if something was wrong and more often than not had the answer to help.

When a close friend’s seven-year-old daughter died suddenly of an asthma attack I was panic-stricken. My mum was unequivocal. “Get round there now,” she ordered me. “I can’t,” I said. “They won’t want me there.” “Just go,” said my mum. I followed her advice and as always her instincts were exactly right. At a time when lots of friends stayed away, fearful of doing or saying the wrong thing, I simply wrapped my arms round my friend and wept with her.

My mum helped me in countless ways but perhaps the most important thing she gave me was the inner strength to cope with most things – just as she had.

And even now she still gives me emotional security. Wherever I look in the house, there’s something that reminds me of her. The gorgeous yellow pashmina she wore to a Daily Mail literary lunch, a cream jug that she kept by her bedside and the hundreds of cards she sent over the years. ‘You are a superstar and a wonderful daughter – I’m so proud of you. Loads of love Mummy x,” says a battered-looking one propped up on the mantelpiece of my study. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.

6 comments so far

  • Emma,
    I went to the same school as your mother-Leigh Girls’Grammar School.
    She was about five years older than me and lived in one of the “white houses” near to where I lived in Culcheth.
    We travelled to Leigh on the same bus.
    I wrote a longer email and then deleted it as I do not feel anyone else would be interested in what I had to say but I would be happy to email you privately.

  • Thank you very much for commenting, Janet. It’s lovely to think of my mum and you sitting on the school bus from Culcheth to Leigh. I remember my grandparents’ house in Culcheth so well!

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