Peering through the net curtains, I saw a car pull up outside.
As the man heaved himself out of the driver’s seat, I felt my heart pang.
The poor fella puffed and wheezed as he waddled up to my front door. Oh, Son! I thought sadly. Yes, that driver was my lad. Standing 6ft tall and weighing close to 30st, my Robert, then 31, had turned into a man mountain.
Hardly surprising with a mum like me, I thought.
With my 20st, size-22 frame, I’d constantly struggled with my weight over the years.
But things had got really bad after I’d had a hysterectomy at 40 years old.
Fat ran in the family. Both my parents had been hugely overweight, too.
My dad Basil had worn XXXL clothes before dying of a stroke at the age of 65.
And doctors had missed my mum Edith’s bowel cancer for ages because she’d been so big.
‘It terrifies me,’ I’d admit to my partner David.
He was a gym fan, though, worked out regularly.
But me and Robert were trapped in a vicious circle.
He’d started putting on weight when he was a child, after spending holidays with my parents.
They’d lavished him with love, but treats as well.
Robert would always grab food on the go. Kebabs or a Chinese takeaway when he got home from work late.
He wouldn’t cook for himself, and his health was suffering.
Robert had a bad back and he couldn’t even bend down to put his socks on. He was in denial, though. ‘You should think about losing some weight,’ I told him gently.
He had two young children, and I knew that he hated not being able to run around and play with them.
‘I’m fine!’ he’d snap at me in response.
But months on, in February 2014, I suffered a mini stroke. I was only 54.
Thankfully, it didn’t leave me with any problems afterwards.
But it did really frighten me. And Robert.
‘Mum, I can’t lose you like you lost Grandma and Grandad,’ he told me when I was discharged from hospital. ‘I’m worried, too,’ I said. So worried in fact, I decided to join Slimming World.
‘Why don’t you come with me?’ I asked Robert. But he shook his head. ‘They’re not going to have any scales that’ll take my weight,’ he mumbled.
I wanted to help him, though.
So I rang our local Slimming World group.
‘My son is worried the scales won’t be able to take him,’ I said. ‘He wears XXXXL clothes,’ I added. ‘Our scales will be fine to weigh him,’ the lady assured me. ‘We’re a friendly bunch.’
So, in March, I managed to convince Robert to come along.
‘I’m nervous,’ he mumbled as we waddled in together.
We were used to hiding at the back at social events and we were expecting to see people smirking, nudging each other and staring in our direction.
But we couldn’t have been more wrong!
‘Welcome,’ the leader said, smiling warmly at us.
It was still mortifying hopping on the scales, though.
I was 20st and Robert 10st heavier – he weighed 30st. But we were determined. We both stuck to the diet, tucked into healthy salads and pasta dishes, had the Slimming World chocolate bars if we fancied a treat.
Within the first week, I lost 4lb and Robert shed 6lb.
‘We will need to do some exercise, too,’ I told him.
I had a bad knee because of my weight, but we started walking a mile a day.
At first, we’d come back looking like we’d just run a marathon, out of breath and absolutely shattered.
But, slowly, it got easier and we were going further.
A month later, we went to a family wedding.
By now, I’d shed a stone and Robert had lost two.
I wore a black dress that I’d not been able to wear for years, as I’d been too fat.
‘You two look amazing,’
He couldn’t even bend down to put his socks on