Cherish your mother while you have her

Mum of ten Ber Faul, who lives in East Cork and recently appeared on a TV style make-over show, tells CHRIS DUNNE about her late mother and best friend, Betty, ahead of Mother’s Day.
Cherish your mother while you have her

Bernadette Faul, from Ballydassoon, Youghal, who featured in The Style Counsellors

WHEN Youghal woman Ber Faul was given a much-needed boost after the loss of her beloved mother, Betty Murphy, courtesy of the Style Counsellors Suzanne Jackson and Eileen Smith on RTÉ1, it wasn’t the first time she had the benefit of expert advice on fashion.

“Mammy used to love going shopping with me for style,” says Ber.

“She was great to advise me on what suited me. Since I lost her I was inclined to wear all black clothes and I put on weight. I lost my way style-wise after mammy died.”

Betty and Ber enjoyed better days.

Ber says: “We used to enjoy our shopping day trips together.

“Mammy was a great mate to be with for the shopping.”

The women travelled in style.

“We also went away on holidays together to Playa del Inglés in the Canaries.”

Ber Faul with her mum Betty.
Ber Faul with her mum Betty.

The pair planned their special excursions.

“Our cousin saved the money for the foreign holiday for us during the year. It was mammy’s first foreign holiday, she was so excited heading off. We got on great and we had an absolute ball.

“Mammy was a gas ticket. The kids adored her and they always called into her at O’Brien’s Terrace in Youghal after school. Lauren works in Youghal and she used to call to her granny in her lunch-hour. They all miss that.

“Mammy was great cráic! She used to joke when the kids called to her every day; ‘I’ve no peace!’ But she loved to see them coming.”

Betty would have been chuffed to see her daughter on the small screen in all her glory.

“Mammy would have been thrilled with the drama and the fun of it all,” says Ber speaking about her television debut on The Style Counsellors recently.

Ber Faul's mum Betty.
Ber Faul's mum Betty.

“There was a fabulous buzz and great excitement among the family when I was on TV. When my daughter Lauren nominated me to go on the programme I could have killed her! But it turned out to be the most fun experience I ever had.

“Before appearing on the programme, I wouldn’t have been very confident and I was very nervous about going on live TV.”

But she rose to the occasion.

“I came out of my comfort zone and I went for it! The ladies, Suzanne, Eileen and all the TV crew were so nice. I had a ball.”

Viewers were brought to tears seeing her husband’s Sean’s stunned reaction to the great style-makeover reveal.

“My mother would have been thrilled too and so excited for me,” says Ber.

The mother-of-the bride outfit was chosen for bride-to-be Shaynah’s wedding in March. It has the wow factor.

“I love it!” says Ber. “I think mammy would have loved my choice too.”

Mother and daughter had a unique relationship.

“We were more like sisters rather than mother and daughter,” says Ber.

“We were best friends.”

“It was very hard to lose my mother and my best friend. Our relationship was a lovely one.”

The pair enjoyed spending quality time together.

“Heading off to the shopping centres on a day out was part of our routine. Mam loved her style and her shopping trips. Every weekend she’d have a new top and she always enjoyed buying new jumpers. It was great because she wasn’t able to buy much for herself when we were young.”

Ber Faul with husband Sean and their family.
Ber Faul with husband Sean and their family.

Ber and her husband, Sean, have 10 children and 12 grandchildren that they hold dear — Betty too always held a dear place in their hearts.

Tragically, she was lost twice to her devoted family and extended family.

“Mam got sick in the November with chest problems,” says Ber. “She was a smoker.”

And then Betty became a stranger to her loved ones.

“She developed a form of dementia known as Lewy body dementia,” says Ber.

Lewy body dementia affects memory, and can cause hallucinations, mobility problems, physical stiffness, and it is related to Parkinson’s disease.

“That was 100 times worse than her problems her chest condition caused,” says Ber. “It’s like we lost Mam twice.”

“When she had dementia and when mammy died, we lost her twice.

“I used to go and see her when she was ill and I’d say to myself; ‘does she know me or not?’ She seemed to be a completely different person when she got dementia. It was a blessing mammy didn’t go through any suffering.”

Betty sensed when her loved ones were near.

“She always seemed to know my youngest son, Jessie,” says Ber. “He’d call in and stay with her. Mammy had a grá for him. Betty had a grá for all her grandchildren.

“We always think of happy times and happy memories of her,” says Ber.

Ber, 61, and with 10 children and 12 grandchildren must have vivid memories of a very busy household?

“When our kids, Ryan, Liam, Kellie, Kady, Shaynah, Megan, Lauren, Jake, Sean and Jessie, ranging in age from 44 to 19, were growing up, I didn’t have a minute to myself,” says Ber.

“It was a very busy household with communions and confirmations happening every year!

“There wasn’t a month in the year when there wasn’t a communion, confirmation or a birthday.”

There were always happy times in the Faul house when the brood were growing up.

“There was never a dull moment!” says Ber. “It was very busy cooking, shopping and the rest. I’m still cooking!”

Nothing has changed over the years from childhood to adulthood.

“They still bound in the front door,” says Ber.

“They still go to the fridge and to the cupboard, even though they have kids of their own!”

The Faul children were typical siblings.

“They had their arguments like all kids, but when push came to shove they always stood up for each other,” says Ber.

They knew what was important.

“We had no trappings but we had a very happy house.”

The Faul family still stick together.

“They didn’t go far!” says Ber.

“They all still live close by us.”

During lockdown, it’s hard to be separated from those we love.

“It is hard knowing the grandchildren are so near and that we can only see them through the window,” says Ber.

She had some advice to those who are lucky enough to still have their mothers with them.

“You should cherish your mother while you have her,” says Ber.

“You never know how long that will be for.

“Mammy got sick in November and was dead in January.

“Mammy was the best.”

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