Mes­sage from be­yond

I was ut­terly lost af­ter Mum died, but she found a way to keep me on track

Chat - - Contents - Gemma Dyer, 37, Not­ting­ham

Feel­ing full of ex­cite­ment, I came home and spilt the beans to my mum Avril. We were so close, ev­ery­one called me Mum’s shadow. Now, I sat on the sofa and bab­bled about my new man Lee, 23. ‘He’s got dark hair and blue eyes,’ I gushed. ‘He’s just per­fect.’ ‘He sounds re­ally great,’ Mum beamed. I lived at home with Mum, my dad Alan, 62, and sis­ter Na­dine, 27. We were a lot closer than most fam­i­lies. Mum had de­vel­oped di­a­betes when she was preg­nant with me – and, since then, her health had suf­fered. She had hy­per­ten­sion, thy­roid is­sues and heart prob­lems which un­for­tu­nately left her bedrid­den. I was her win­dow to the out­side world. Al­though I started spend­ing more time at Lee’s, I did see Mum most days. I told her how sim­ple things were be­tween me and Lee. ‘We love hav­ing a Domino’s pizza in front of the telly to­gether,’ I told her.

Mum nod­ded, soak­ing up all the de­tails.

She was a soppy thing. Loved hear­ing all about my ro­mance.

She was kind, too, a sucker for an­i­mal-char­ity ads on TV, couldn’t re­sist do­nat­ing.

Soon, I re­alised I was telling Mum about a lot of take­aways that me and Lee were hav­ing. At 5ft 5in tall and a size-10, the weight had started creep­ing on so slowly that I’d barely no­ticed.

And, when I fell preg­nant with our daugh­ter in spring 2008, I ate what­ever I wanted.

Then when I had my daugh­ter Ri­han­nah, that De­cem­ber, I was ab­so­lutely thrilled.

I’d never seen my mum prouder than when she had her first cud­dle with her grand­daugh­ter.

But she was con­cerned, too.

By now I weighed more than 19st.

‘I’m wor­ried you’ll end up like me,’ Mum con­fessed.

‘I’ll try and go on a diet,’ I promised her.

I knew that Mum just wanted me to be able to do ev­ery­thing with my daugh­ter that she’d never been able to.

So, in Jan­uary 2015, I started fol­low­ing the Joe Wicks diet plan.

In­stead of skip­ping my break­fast, I had scram­bled egg, spinach and a veg­gie sausage.

I swapped my usual lunch of a jacket potato for a smoothie of al­mond milk, peanut but­ter, pro­tein pow­der, ba­nana and chia seeds.

And for din­ner, there were no more take­aways!

In­stead, I’d fol­low one of Joe’s recipes – like the lovely

Mum was bedrid­den – I was her win­dow to the world

leek and chicken pie with veg!

‘Ev­ery­thing’s made from scratch,’ I ex­plained to Mum.

‘Well, it’s cer­tainly pay­ing off, love,’ she en­cour­aged.

Soon, I was feel­ing much bet­ter about my­self.

But in Oc­to­ber 2015, Mum fell over at home, broke her leg.

She was semi-con­scious as an am­bu­lance rushed her to Queens Med­i­cal Cen­tre, in Not­ting­ham.

Af­ter a week in hos­pi­tal, she came home but started get­ting poorly as all of her con­di­tions reared up.

Back in hos­pi­tal, her breath­ing be­came laboured.

Me, my dad and Na­dine barely left her side. Mum’s con­di­tion spi­ralled, in­fec­tion set­ting in.

And three weeks later, we held her hands as she took her last breath… Mum was just 64. In shock, I shut down. With­out Mum, I felt lost. I left my job in car sales and even strug­gled to get out of bed some days.

My diet was now the last thing on my mind as we held a funeral for Mum and be­gan to ad­just to life with­out her. Only, I didn’t… I slipped back into my old habits and would turn to food for com­fort.

But, six months later, I was look­ing at some pic­tures of Mum when some­thing in­side me snapped. It was the mo­ment I knew... I was sure Mum wouldn’t want me to live like this.

I got my old job back and re­mem­bered Mum’s words of en­cour­age­ment when I’d started los­ing weight be­fore.

So I went back on the Joe Wicks plan.

I even vol­un­teered to run a half-marathon to raise money for a char­ity we sup­ported at work.

With en­cour­age­ment from col­leagues, Lee, Dad, Na­dine and lit­tle Ri­han­nah, then 8, I started train­ing.

The first time, I didn’t even run half a mile be­fore gasp­ing.

But the next time I went on for a lit­tle longer.

I also started do­ing the Insanity Work­out at home, ex­er­cis­ing five times a week in my liv­ing room. Af­ter six months, I’d lost 2st. And, in March last year, I ran my first half-marathon around Sil­ver­stone race­track.

It was tough, and I didn’t know if I’d make it to the end…

But I pic­tured Mum’s face, and how much she would have loved me be­ing able to run.

Some­how, I crossed the fin­ish line.

In­spired, in April last year, I ap­plied for a Lon­don Marathon bal­lot place – but, sadly, didn’t get one. I was gut­ted. But then in April this year, I was con­tacted by the char­ity Brooke, which sup­ports work­ing horses and don­keys.

It wanted to of­fer me a place to run the marathon for the char­ity.

I re­mem­bered se­lect­ing it when I’d filled in my form, but hadn’t given it a se­cond thought.

Later, I told Dad all about my new backer.

He be­gan to shake his head in dis­be­lief.

‘That was the last char­ity your mum con­tacted be­fore she died,’ he said. ‘I had no idea,’ I gasped. I love to think it’s a mes­sage from my mum, telling me that I’m on the right track.

Now I’m proud to say that I’ve lost 5st and I’m still go­ing.

I can run for miles with­out get­ting out of breath and fit into size-12 clothes.

More im­por­tantly, though, I’m a happy, healthy role model for Ri­han­nah, now 10 – just like my mum wanted.

I re­ally hope that she’s look­ing down on me.

I did it all to make her proud.

My lovely mum Avril – we were so close

A mummy my­self – and a role model for lit­tle Ri­han­nah I’m fit enough to run for miles!

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