She’s doing about 80 on the motorway, maybe more, her niece plays some impressive air guitar to the burned Bon Jovi Love Song CD mix. We’ve left the Mancunian rain behind and the M62 clears, with the promise of some sunshine behind the low lying cloud, that seconds ago was a Lancashire pea soup fog. The opened window breeze blows my hair softly tickling my face. We have a brief conversation about compulsory purchase orders and I know that this motor way route must be one of the most unnatural of them all. Ancient stone farmhouses speckled with their sheep witness a man made highway cutting directly through what once must have been an English country paradise.
There’s a Bon Jovi song for nearly every moment of life. This gig in the predictable Mancunian rain is my sixth. I was, (in a fashion), at the Castle Donnington gig in 1985. I was having some serious teenage relationship problems at the time and my memory of them is hazy, but Hey! Maybe that’s just soooo rock n roll. Or maybe it is remiss of me to say I don’t much remember that gig way back in ’85. These kind of details are fairly important in the world of rock veteranarianism, (not to be confused with vegetarianism). And in the somewhat trivial games in a Ford Corsa about who IS their best fan, details like these are gold circle or diamond circle in value.
Growing older with an Internationally Uber Famous Rock Band is a bit like having a friend who only speaks with annoyingly poignantly placed lyrics emphasising all the good, the bad and the ugly memories of your life. And this friend speaks without ever receiving a knowledgeable glance, or a slap in the face, or a drunken friendship affirming hug. Ahh! Yes, this one reminds me of…….We were younger then, we believed in ideals, and in the back of a car with the wind gently blowing my hair, it is Bon Jovi who reaffirms our friendships, remind us that our experiences are common human experiences; and what’s more, it matters not which road you travel, it matters not which twisting turn you take, what matters is the invisible air guitar of a friend who joins us all together with a common song. A song called Life. A song that is sung every day, by every human being, regardless of whether or not they belong to an internationally famous rock band.
My mam has a life limiting illness. This is a politically correct medical term for being terminally ill. There is nothing quite like looking into the eyes of death, to find a resurrection of life. Death is a continuum, a continuum of love, a continuum of life. We have no regrets. We know we have love. We know that this mother daughter relationship was never perfect and right now that simply does not matter. Some people believe that the unborn soul chooses which body to gestate into and that the karma from previous lives is brought to its next birth and life. If this is true, then I chose the right mother. I chose her to teach me of love and compassion. I chose her to teach me to see only the goodness in people. I chose her because she loved me and would put me first, before her own needs. I chose her because she needed me too, she needed me to be strong and to share and bear her pain.
Life is about many things. Sometimes it is about endurance. Sometimes it is about gritting your teeth and bearing that which God has given you. And sometimes it is about joy. I asked my mam if she had had a good life, and she replied, yes, she had had a good life, (all things considered). And in that moment I realised that she had achieved far more than many people and despite the hard times, the illness’, the poverty and the suicide of her son, she was still able to say earnestly that she had had a good life.
Doesn’t matter about the money, doesn’t matter about the qualifications, doesn’t matter bout the unattained ambitions, doesn’t matter about being in an Uber Cool Rock Band. What matters is that at the end of your life, you can say, hand on heart, “I have had a good life.”
My mother’s death is not imminent. We still have some time, albeit borrowed. There were days in my misspent youth where blaming my mam or my parents was convenient. That way I didn’t have to face up to the reality of my own mistakes. When death approaches, it casts a shadow ahead of its arrival. It is a simple intuitive skill to recognise the signs. I believe my mother and I are at peace and we have done the best we could with our mother daughter relationship and I am a better person because of her, a better person for all the right things she did and a better person for all her mistakes.
When her time comes I know my father and my brother will reappear in Spirit to take her and I know that God’s Angels will accompany them all into Spirit. Death is a new beginning. I prepare now for the inevitability of my mam’s celestial transfer. I do this in a very earthly way. My midnight DJ plays my requests and I hold on to the music and the lyrics. As humans we search for love, for acceptance, for peace, and sometimes we are lucky enough to experience this on earth and sometimes all we have is a lyric in a song to see us through the moments we call life. Sometimes peace only comes with death, but be assured it comes in the end.
Now my choice of Bon Jovi love song doesn’t really have that much to do with my mam. It’s more to do with that human ache for love and acceptance in this mortal coil. The English landscape passes by. The eternal air guitar plays all them unplayed tunes. I break from my reverie, long for an out of the question caffeine fix, make do with the Volvic water and think of giving advice that I am not qualified to give.
Before your loved one dies, make sure they know you love them, forgive, make peace, because death comes regardless of which song is playing on the radio.
Jon Bon Jovi sings one of my favourites and I would be in no other place on earth right now other than on this compulsory purchase order motorway after a Rock Gig in Manchester in the pissing rain. Right now, I totally understand where these lyrics are coming from; “If you don’t love me, lie to me. ” I close my eyes again, enjoy the breeze, enjoy the 90 mile an hour speed limit violation that will not show on my driving licence. I am with friends. I am with Bon Jovi.