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My mother, Mareitta, is 68 years old today. She has always been there for us. She is strong, enduring, slightly mad and full of life. When we returned to the UK and my father became too ill and too old to work it was she that kept the family moving along, above the breadline. It was she that looked after him, day in, day out, when his body and mind began to fail.

She is a character. She is mischievous and slightly batty. She has spent the last few weeks whizzing from Singapore to Dubai to the Philippines  and back to Britain. She thinks nothing of taking off across the world, she has no fear. She has lived in the wilds of Papua New Guinea and Africa and Peterborough.  She is intrepid and independent in the manner of one who simply is.

She has been a teacher, a mother and a chef (her food is just the best). She taught me to cook and showed me a world of flavours and textures; chinese, indonesian, filipino, english. She took my brother and me to our football matches, cheering us on and taking pride in our every achievement. She was (and still is) called Mum by any number of his friends, such was their love and respect for her.

She can be hard work at times, but then so can we. She can be obstinate and woe to you who invites her to anger, because it smoulders and burns with a long-lasting ferocity. My brother and I have both borne that thunderstorm, and deservedly so. But she is clever and adaptable and adventurous; taking to computers and the web with ease, riding pillion on motorbikes and racing sheikhs in the desert, happily doing her thing no matter where in the world she is. She is an absolute demon at Scrabble. And gosh, she's fairly quiet, but she does like to party when the mood takes her.

She lives the philosophy that my brother's happiness and mine are what counts. It doesn't matter what we do, what we achieve and how we live, as long as we are happy then that is all that is needed. She never pushed us to do anything against our will, and even though she may occasionally question our motives or our decisions, it is with the intent of concern and consideration for our safety and wellbeing.

She has been, and always will be, a great mum.


winter sun on my back (Po Chu-i)