Most people would probably agree that listing my mother as someone who inspires me is a cliche, but you haven’t met Hazel Robb.
Quiet and shy, her dry sense of humour often surprises people. She’s stern when she needs to be but she’s incredibly fair. She’s thoughtful, generous, and exceptionally humble.
Her hobbies include choir, walking, book club, going for coffee with Anne and Jean, messaging people on WhatsApp (she recently got a smart phone), ringing her sister Avril and, of course, napping.
She’s 5ft2 with cropped brown hair. She has soft brown eyes, sallow skin which welcomes the sun, and her smile is contagious.
She never changed her name when she got married, something which I’ve always admired. She’s a self-made woman.
She inspires me for a number of reasons, but I’ll give you the highlights. She’s resilient. She’s the queen of ‘sucking it up, and getting on with it’. She’s generous with her time and the most selfless person I’ve ever met. She’s independent, and she’s been through it all.
My dad passed away when I was two years old after a short battle with cancer. Mum was left alone in Sligo with three kids all under the age of 6. She got on with it.
Without a doubt she had help from family and friends but with all our extended family living in Dublin, she did a lot herself.
She didn’t wallow. She went back to work. She expected a lot from herself and a lot from her kids. We played tennis, hockey and did gymnastics at a high level, we did tap, ballet and jazz dancing, and we at least attempted some instruments. School was important, good exam results were expected, university was a certainty.
She gave us everything we ever asked for, and we were so lucky to have such a complete childhood.
When she wasn’t looking after us, she was up and down to Monaghan visiting her brother John who has special needs. He lives in a Camphill Community – life sharing communities for people with disabilities who live and work alongside volunteers.
Mum treats John like a king, and to this day is always taking him for weekend breaks in Sligo, buying him new CDs and clothes, and aiding the community where he lives in any way that she can with help from her sister Avril.
When her own mother’s Alzheimer’s became unmanageable for my granddad, she came to live with us in Sligo as an alternative to nursing home care. She drove her back to Dublin every weekend to see him.
She volunteers at a girls’ group in Sligo town called the Girls’ Brigade.
She donates to every charity she sees.
She is an everyday hero, and I’m proud to say she’s my mum.
Image: Alison Ring