My second mother

Ten years ago, I was chatting in the kitchen to Brenda, my mother-in-law, while making coffee. We were talking about a trip I’d planned with my seven-year-old daughter, Alice, to go clothes shopping. ‘She has a definite idea of what she likes, so it could take some time,’ I said.

‘Steve and I went to so many shops the other day to buy him a pair of flares,’ said Brenda. ‘Mind you, it’s lovely seeing them pleased when they find what they want.’

The conversation was not all it seemed. The last time Steve – Brenda’s son and my husband – wore flares was as a child in the late 1970s. Brenda had Alzheimer’s, but it didn’t prevent her from teaching me so much about parenting, and from being a mother to me.

The first time I’d met her, I’d worried about

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