The year that ...

Artist man­ager Ash­ley Page, 43, on a poignant an­niver­sary

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - LAST WORD + QUIZ -

In late 2008 I de­cided to leave Warner Mu­sic and go out into the great wide world and set up my own man­age­ment com­pany. But a few weeks af­ter I re­signed I got a call from my mother in the UK, say­ing, “I only have 10 weeks left to live.” She had brain can­cer. My wife Tracey was away for work, so I was home alone when I re­ceived the call, which was ob­vi­ously a huge shock.

I de­cided then and there I’d go straight back and have the fol­low­ing 10 weeks with my mother, spend­ing ev­ery minute to­gether, learn­ing ev­ery­thing and hav­ing ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion and no re­grets.

She’d had a brain op­er­a­tion by the time I got there. So she was in the hos­pi­tal and I was stay­ing at her house in Tav­i­s­tock, Devon, vis­it­ing her dur­ing the day then com­ing home at night to do tem­po­rary work from New Zealand that paid enough to keep me go­ing, be­cause I had no job.

Warner Mu­sic were kind enough to hire me to project-man­age some al­bums: do­ing things like stu­dio book­ings, time­lines and bud­gets. I worked from 8 or 9 at night till 3am, got a cou­ple of hours’ sleep and then went back to the pal­lia­tive care ward to spend the day with Mum.

Tracey and my sis­ter in Syd­ney came over quite early on but for most of the time I was liv­ing alone in my mother’s house. The un­for­tu­nate part is that, as of­ten hap­pens, it got to the point where it felt like she was just hang­ing on, so I de­cided to come home for Christ­mas and go back when there was some news.

It was also my wife’s and my 10th an­niver­sary to­gether, which we were cel­e­brat­ing in Auck­land. And that morn­ing I got a call from an un­der­taker say­ing: “I have your mother’s body.”

And I said: “So my mother’s died then?” and I was on a plane to the UK that af­ter­noon.

There was some­thing about the tim­ing of ev­ery­thing. She did die 10 weeks to the day af­ter she told me she had 10 weeks to live. And now we’re ap­proach­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of her pass­ing and 20 of Tracey and me be­ing to­gether, all on the same day.

The time I spent with her did what I wanted it to do. I got to tell her I was set­ting up a new com­pany, which she wouldn’t have known. And she told me it would be a great suc­cess, which I felt very emo­tional about.

Un­for­tu­nately, I had to watch Mamma Mia! on DVD at least 25 times, de­spite hav­ing sworn I would never watch it once. In pal­lia­tive care rooms, there’s noth­ing, so I brought in a DVD player and that movie was the only DVD we had. Ev­ery time we put it on Mum would fall asleep and I’d be left watch­ing it. Then she would wake up and ask to watch it again, so I had to.

I was in a strange rou­tine of clear­ing out her house while she was say­ing, “I can’t wait to come home.” Yet I knew she wasn’t com­ing home. It makes you re­alise how short life is, how petty a lot of ar­gu­ments are and what re­ally mat­ters.

I wouldn’t change a mo­ment of it. I couldn’t have not done it.

As told to Paul Lit­tle.

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