I was faffing about the overloaded garage while filling a skip ( my life is non-stop glamour) when a falling-apart chest of drawers collapsed further, revealing a piece of card stuck at the back.
Revealed, this showed itself to be an elaborate thank-you card, home-made and bearing a large trophy on the front and bearing the epigraph ‘Award in 1991 for a 1st class swimming teacher Mrs Adam’.
On the front was a depiction of my mum, inexplicably ginger-haired, with rosy-red cheeks and with an uncanny resemblance to Elton John, just above a photo of said class all sporting their finest school uniforms, specially pressed for the occasion.
Inside were the signatures of every single child in the class, plus their teacher Mrs O’Donnell.
Of course, the reason this made me cry was the personal significance.
Mum ( who didn’t look like Elton John, though did wear glasses) died many years ago now to breast cancer, which she fought (and for naysayers of that expression, it was a fight) over two decades.
When this card was written, she had carried on working as a swimming teacher.
After her diagnosis, during chemo – even after surgery – she refused to sink under the weight of the disease and treatment until she had to. She just kept swimming.
You might, indeed, almost say it was where I inherited my pig-headedness. She certainly was determined to keep going, even obtaining a second degree in between her primary and secondary cancers.
I’d almost forgotten about the generations of children she taught to love water, to breaststroke, to front crawl.
That her life, though not quite what she wanted it to be, really meant something and impacted on so many.
And it reminded me of the importance of saying thanks. So thank-you to you (class of 1991 and probably all in your late 20s now ) for your kindness to the teacher who taught you to float.