It is forty years this week since my Mother died. I was 15 and hardly knew her as an adult, only as the child. Therefore, I didn’t know what questions to ask, which would be vitally important in the years to come to try to make sense of my ancestry. Never could get a straight answer from Dad, and the secrets remained just that… secrets, until Ancestry.Com became easy to access.
Not sure whether that actually made things better or worse. At least I could comfort myself I had a vivid imagination, until I was confronted with documentation – written by human hand and generated by significant events - birth certificates, marriage certificates – all kinds of certificates marking her passage through life and mine.
She was an accomplished woman before her marriage, and would have remained so if the custom of the 1960s was for married women to give up work and stay at home. She had won a scholarship to Redmaids and I still remember her painting at our kitchen table, using orange scrap paper and a tin paint box to paint a picture to enter into the parent’s section of a competition at the school fete.
I never found out what happened to that picture, not even sure it was entered, but can remember the beautiful colour combinations and wondering why I couldn’t paint like that…. and now I get so much pleasure out of my painting – it must be inherited – as so do my children and their children.
My mum left behind a catalogue of poetry, some published, some still in the form of scribbles. Going through the pages tonight, cherishing the connection of her handwriting with her memory, I left home soon after her death, and could take little with me – I chose well with hindsight – her folder of poems.
I found this one, which is quite ironic…. as she didn’t grow old, she died at 48 of Breast Cancer.
When I am old and many days been used
As by a glowing fire I sit,
Then of the past, not future, I shall think –
Mind over memories will flit.
And the world which must be lived in now
Will surely seem different then.
I wonder if I shall envy the young –
Wish to be youthful again?
I know that there will be many things
That could have been dealt with better,
But isn’t that the way of life
And our chief, restraining fetter?
So I’ll merely hope that when such age I reach
And peaceful rest fills every day,
With shaking head I won’t to the young folk preach
“Children were not like that in my day!”
Goodnight mum – sleep tight…. xxxx I miss you still more than you could ever know.