I forgot I’d written down a list of things about my mother which I unearthed when we were packing up to move. When she turned 60 and had a big party at the local hall with friends and family we drove up and some part of me wondered if I’d get over my fear of speaking in front of people enough to say a few words, tell a few funny stories. As it happened my nerves couldn’t handle it and her friends had gone to a lot of trouble to put on a locally inspired opera so there was enough to see without me stuttering and stammering.
I never told her I wrote all this down – she’ll chuckle and probably be very embarrassed to read it! Just a random collection of things she’s done, can do and some random memories.
- can pot – at some stage in my childhood she had a potting wheel and made lots of very good things, perfectly round and symmetrical although I seem to recall they never got fired so they dried into the most delicate of muds in the garage and Dad grumbled having to move them between a couple of houses.
- can fly a plane
- made lots and lots and lots of chocolate eclairs for birthdays, dinner parties, take-a-plates, school fairs, family treats and she still makes them now from time to time
- was a wild lady from the lupins once – my sister and I (probably about 7 and 9 (probably the last time I wore togs)) were building sand castles on the firm sand at the beach and Mum was doing what she loved best at the beach which was lying basking in the sun, on this occasion fairly hidden in the sand dunes. There was hardly anyone else about. The sand castles that we’d built were perfect and we were building roads to join them together in a castle town when a couple of naughty boys who’d wandered along the beach came up to us and said “stupid girls with stupid sand castles” and stomped all over all of them with their feet laughing – I can’t recall which of us, or perhaps both, burst into tears, loud enough for Mum to hear – next minute she came tearing out of the dunes through the lupins shrieking and waving her fist at the boys “get away you horrible boys – leave those girls alone – how would you like it if we smashed things you made?”. Her hair was all over the place, she’d been asleep, she was a bit pink, she was screaming and wearing delightful swirly whirly patterned black and white togs – a sight that scared them away. But she saved us
- has run/walked a few half marathons – all of them when she was over 50
- is an amazing cook – I remember a lot of dinner parties at our house in Woodlands Road. For birthdays she always made our faves, and would now were we ever at their house on our birthdays – roast chicken and lemon meringue pie for me, pork chops and berry cheesecake for my sister, sausage casserole and golden steamed pudding for Dad.
- can run a high school single-handedly
- made me some amazing birthday cakes – ones I remember most are a piano (with while chocolate and licorice keys) and a pink fairly castle (the cake tins she used for the turrets were cans from tinned goods, peaches she told us, but I’m sure they were from the cats jellimeat, not because of any bad taste in the cake but because Mum never had tinned peaches or other fruit, she bottled everything!)
- would never give us luncheon and tomato sauce white bread sandwiches for our school lunches – oh no, always brown bread with left over cold roast meat and salad … usually had to find my school friend Natalie to switch for her luncheon sandwich and loved staying at her house on school nights because that’s what her Mum put in my lunch box! Kids just don’t appreciate the good ground work their parents put in – I’m sure my good teeth, nails, hair, weight and constitution are due to a decent helping of brown bread in my childhood diet!
- was very VERY mad with me when I ran away to Joanne Brown’s house on the orange school bus. I wasn’t actually running away from home. I don’t recall being angry or upset or particularly rebellious, I think I was about 9 or 10, I just wanted to go visit. I should’ve got suspicious when I got on the bus at the lady driver asked me if my mother knew I was going on the bus (small town, small bus, she knew every kid and I was a spare) “Oh yes, I’m going to visit with Joanne” … yes Joanne was there so the explanation was plausible. Got to Joanne’s house where I was greeted with a similar question “No, but Joanne invited me to your house.” Obviously Mrs Brown phoned my mother, I stayed and played for a while, then was driven home later. A rather frosty reception from my mother who questioned me repeatedly “do you know how worried I was?” with my sister looking smugly on, usually it was her that was in trouble. I was sent to my room and told “wait until your father gets home’. Hmmmm, I recall that dark night, he was home way after I’d gone to bed and sleep but the light went on, I was hauled out of bed, given a big explanation about how worried my mother had been and to never ever go anywhere without telling her again and I think that was the last time I got the wooden spoon … when the last of the decorative fruit got whacked off I’m still scared of buses to this day …
- once sprayed fly spray on her hair instead of hair spray
- loves to dance and her and dad are great dancers together and sometimes, even fairly recently, well, certainly on The Mister’s first night with the family, we danced as a family to Boney M – crazy laughing arms-out-whirling family. (He just watched. And yes he still married me.)
- can smell berries, plums, pepper, spices and all sorts of things in wine.
- once left the car keys in the house when we were late for school and shouted out to me as she was rushing back in to the house “you back the car out while I go and get the keys”!
- has been married for 38 years (at the time I originally wrote this)
- has worked her whole life, although as home after school for us and now wants to travel the world.
Feels like a bit of an abrupt end to the list, but had I actually made it into a speech I’m sure it would’ve had a more planned out ending.