Somebody Else’s Mum's Just Died

Mark Cuddy 20/04/2019 16comments  |  Jump to last

“Mary Williams has died”, my ma said.

This was Gary’s mum.

I’d seen Gary once in the last twenty-five years or more. It was in a pub, that no longer exists, before and after an Everton game, on a sunny day as I recall.


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Gary and I grew up in the same neighbourhood of Kirkby.

Apart from growing up in the same neighbourhood we were connected by both being Evertonians.

As a kid, I remember his dad Stan being a big Evertonian, like a lot of dads of a certain age in the town I grew up in. I remember Stan running down our walk screaming that Everton had just beaten Liverpool. I was happy about this but felt sorry for my dad, a big Liverpool fan. I don’t know why I cared because my dad could take care of himself and Everton were clearly now the underdogs in our city, and this was forty years ago or so. Our crown had now slipped and was possibly irreplaceable, even to this young mind.

Gary was one school year older than me and I always thought he shouldn’t have grown up in our town because he was different – he wasn’t rough around the edges. He was a nice kid.

In Kirkby, the new town, we were always looking to emulate our peers and our rough town – we were Kirkby kids, the city of Liverpool’s overspill, the home of John Conteh and loads of “dead hard” families from Scottie and Greatie.

Gary WAS different, he was a nice kid. There weren't any rough edges around him and he was polite and a nice guy.

We nicknamed him “Gaygos” because he was a nice kid and different from us, above us, better than us, not trying to pretend he was hard like us. And the thing was we weren’t hard at all, just cheeky, and he wasn’t gay either, not that that mattered even back then.

If Gary had been born in a different town, a different city, who knows what would have become of him. Who knows if we would have had a connection, whether that be both of us being growing up in Kirkby or both of us being Evertonians.

As for Mary, I don’t really have too many memories about her. If you asked me about her, I would say she was a good woman.

When my mum told me that Mary had died of cancer, it had no real affect on me. I hadn’t lived in the neighbourhood for nearly twenty-five years or so. I hadn’t lived in Merseyside for about fifteen years. Mary was just Gary’s mum and nothing more than a name and a face from my childhood, and like Gary my long ago passed. That was that.

And then a day or two after the funeral, I called my mum and we talked about this and that like we always do, and then my mum mentioned the funeral and how nice and simple it was. Less than an hour later I felt like crying my eyes out for Mary, and Gary and his dad Stan, and I didn’t know why.

Was it because it was just my past flickering away from me, a remnant from my happy childhood? Or was it because I felt Gary’s pain, the pain I would surely feel one day when my own mother drifts from this plane? Or was it just because I am human and I feel, and feel human pain and suffering? Was it just because Gary and I were both welded together and blues brothers?

I didn’t know, but I knew I was unhappy on this summer’s day. The sun still shone, time moved on, the past was the past and all that was left was feelings of sadness.

I just had to talk about this.

God bless you, Mary Williams, and Gary and Stan too.

I’m left thinking, is there more than something simple that binds us or is blue blood thicker than water?

RIP every mum, every colour and every persuasion.

Up the Toffees

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Reader Comments (16)

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Darren Alexander
1 Posted 20/04/2019 at 19:44:28
This is great, Mark - a very moving piece. It certainly struck a chord with me, as I had something similar happen very recently. Last week my mum told me about a kid from our street (same age as me, same class at school) whose mum had died of cancer. I hadn't thought about (or seen) him for years (decades, really), and it was a very strange, sad feeling. The past certainly is a foreign country. Thanks for writing this.
Alan McGuffog
2 Posted 20/04/2019 at 19:50:40
That’s a fine piece of writing. Respect !
Phil Greenough
3 Posted 20/04/2019 at 21:17:04
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us, Mark. They certainly struck a chord with me.
Andy Crooks
4 Posted 20/04/2019 at 21:19:19
Good post, Mark.
Brent Stephens
5 Posted 20/04/2019 at 21:34:22
Nice one, Mark. On many levels.
Paul Tran
6 Posted 20/04/2019 at 21:38:22
Good, moving piece, Mark. Thanks for sharing.
Darren Hind
7 Posted 20/04/2019 at 21:57:21
Lovely piece, Mark
Andy Meighan
8 Posted 20/04/2019 at 22:10:58
Lovely, Mark.

You must know, being from Kirkby, the biggest Evetonian of all?

I'll give you a clue: He's been bearded since he was born...

Mike Galley
9 Posted 20/04/2019 at 22:52:06
Thanks Mark. Not sure how too put this but I'm very similar to yourself. Kirkbyite, as we call ourselves, although my dad is a blue (not that it matters). I, too, have my mum still around, and consider myself too be so lucky.
All my best wishes to you and your friends/family.
Derek Thomas
10 Posted 21/04/2019 at 01:24:36
Sometimes Mark, these things just need setting down, if only to get them, not out of the way,but just to get them out.
Alan J Thompson
11 Posted 21/04/2019 at 06:46:22
Having survived cancer myself I find, for some reason, that I feel very upset when I hear of somebody passing from it whether I know them or not. The other week I was burgled and what I call my "funeral money" was taken and while the money is not important the feeling of no longer being safe in my own home is worse but comes nowhere near that when hearing of somebody passing from cancer.

If nothing else I now know I'm not alone.

Mike Gaynes
12 Posted 21/04/2019 at 07:48:20
Thank you for a thoughtful piece, Mark.

Alan J, you're definitely not alone. Several other ToffeeWebbers, among them Brian Williams and myself, join you as cancer survivors. And I feel the same gut punch when I hear of someone who wasn't as fortunate.

I remember a TW article years ago by a gent named Michael Brien, who announced that he'd undergone a colonoscopy after Kevin Sheedy, my all-time favorite Blue, went public with his bowel cancer. Michael's exam turned up a similar cancer, and he impishly named the tumor Suarez after our then-most-hated-RS. I posted a response suggesting that we refer to the access point for the colonoscopy as the Suarez Canal.

I don't recall Michael Brien posting on TW after that, and I don't know what happened to him. But he popped into my mind once or twice during my own two subsequent cancer battles, and again tonight. I hope he made it.

Steve Alderson
13 Posted 21/04/2019 at 07:50:47
Mark is Teresa your mother? If so she's a good friend of my mum.
Derek Knox
14 Posted 21/04/2019 at 10:18:38
Heartfelt post Mark, unfortunately it is an inevitability which will affect us all in life at some point, (no-one escapes it) yet it is so sad when someone you are associated with, succumbs to it.

I believe that shows we are human, and it is natural to have emotions, if I may quote a few lines of one of my favourite poems:
T'is a chequerboard of knights and days,
While destiny with men for pieces plays,
While hither and thither moves, then mates and slays
Then one by one, back in the closet lays.

Strange is it not of the myriads who,
Before us, passed the door of darkness through,
None have returned to tell us of that road,
Which to discover, we must travel too.

For in and out, above below,
T'is nothing but a magic shadow picture show,
Played around a box whose candle is the sun,
Round which we phantom figures, come and go!

Geoff Harrison
15 Posted 23/04/2019 at 10:56:30
I enjoyed reading this piece, Mark. Well written and evocative. Reminds me of the Japanese 'Mono no aware'. The innate sadness in even the sunniest of experiences.
James Power
16 Posted 24/04/2019 at 07:55:11
Mark, what a powerful and poignant article. I don’t know what drew me to it, my mums passing at Christmas four years ago, my estranged relationship with my Evertonian Kirkdale born dad, or my love for everything Everton. However this is a wonderful piece of writing that had me swallowing hard and wiping away tears on the 7:16 a.m. train from Tunbridge Wells (yes I am the only scally in RTW!) to the City. Thanks for writing it.

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