She left us with a lifetime of happy memories. I hardly know where to begin to explain the joy of being my mother's daughter, for her defining quality was her sense of humour. Then there was her amazing generosity, her kindness and her unconditional love and support.
There are so many family stories about mum that I was spoilt for choice when writing this. Like the day Specsavers did a home visit to test her eyes. Poor man. She started reading the card, got to a letter she couldn't see and asked me what it was! Not really the point of an eye test, mum! Then when it came to picking a new frame, she put the glasses on and said crossly: "I can't see any better with them at all!" The man patiently explained that she was just picking frames and the lenses weren't in yet!
If her eyesight wasn't good, her hearing was worse. She had two hearing aids - not that they helped much as they were always in a drawer in her bedroom. You could never quite pitch your tone at the right level. Speak too quietly and she'd tell you off for "mumbling"; talk too loudly and she'd indignantly say: "I'm not deaf you know!"
My late father trained a few racehorses and mum loved gambling! Every week she did a 50p "patent" which is a bet with three horses. She rarely won anything, her method of choosing horses often dictated by family names. No matter if the horse was 100-1, if it included a name of one of her children, on would go her money and that would be the last she'd see of it.
There were all the family games including cricket in the imaginatively named Big Field with a five gallon drum as a wicket - and the day mum threw the cricket ball for dad to catch and it hit his nose which bled for hours - she was never allowed to forget that one. We played lots of card games and when we played partner whist we all wanted mum as a partner because Dad, not exactly known for his patience, would be furious if you dared forget the Queen of Hearts, or whatever, had already been played.
She was a hardy soul and she brought us up to be tough and uncomplaining. If you hurt yourself out playing there was no point in trying for the sympathy vote. Mum's reaction would always be a scathing "That's nothing!" If both your feet were facing the right way, there was obviously nothing wrong with you. If you did merit some kind of treatment, it was always the liberal application of that cure-all, Germolene.
Mum loved shopping, although there was the time she and my aunt got on the bus in their village at some ungodly hour in the morning for a long trip to an out-of-town retail outlet and didn't get home until evening. Mum had felt sick on the bus, they were bored to tears after an hour and the sum total of their day's shopping consisted of a six-pack of socks for my uncle. "I don't think I'll be bothering with bus trips again," said Mum drily.
Whenever she couldn't get out and about much anymore she turned to shopping via Betterware, Kleeneze and Avon, which is why her sons have a selection of strange plastic items and her daughters plenty of bright blue eyeshadow. It's how one of her young friends who happened to mention he liked tea became the proud owner of a teabag squeezer while still at primary school. If anyone needs any spider repellent or shower head cleaner, see me. I’ve got cans of the stuff.
She lived with my brother who worked nights every other week. When got to to her 90s, my sisters and I took it in turns to stay the night because we didn't want her home alone. If you were unlucky you drew the Monday straw because Mum was an avid soaps fan. You had to put up with Emmerdale, followed by Coronation Street followed by EastEnders and then, darn me, back to another episode of Coronation Street. We soon learned not to ask her anything about what was going on because that would necessitate a garbled half hour explanation of the plot.
I could go on all day about her funny little sayings, about all the thoughtful, wonderful things she did for us all but I'll stop there. So, Mum, happy 100th birthday and as it's Saturday, I'll have a bet on your behalf!
* For all my friends from abroad who may not know, the Queen sends a congratulatory message to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday and every year after, and also to couples celebrating their 60th, 65th and 70th wedding anniversaries and every subsequent year.
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