My Mum

The obvious topic this weekend has to be my mother. (Although as I glance out the window at the quite serious snow falling, I m tempted to write about the #$%&^&*&^%$# weather) but no, Mum wins out as she was much more pleasant than snow in May.

My mother once remarked to me that she had never done anything interesting in her life. That got me thinking. How many of us have written an opera or symphony, invented a useful machine, discovered the cure for a dread disease or led a country through a war or a pandemic. Most of us lead lives that never feature in newspaper headlines or get a mention in a book of records. I guess we are just average and rather boring. But that does not mean we should be discounted.

So her name will not go down in the history books but my mother lived and survived some interesting times and coped with personal crises. She was at school when the Napier earthquake struck and luckily was not injured. She remembered watching a school building under construction collapse with workmen falling to the ground. The school girls had to return home by coastal steamer as the roads were impassable.

She endured tragedy when her mother died. Mum was nineteen and had to take Tillie’s place on the dairy farm until her father sold it. Mum married a few months before war broke out and her husband enlisted. He wasn’t happy about being kept in the New Zealand army away from the fighting and enlisted in the air force without telling Mum. She was still mad about his decision fifty years later. After training, Dad flew in Catalinas in the Pacific and like other wartime wives, Mum raised her children, managed the household and worried about her husband’s safety.

My mother had a charming soprano voice and she starred in several local productions of light operettas. She also belonged to other choirs and singing groups where she could display her talent. We always had a piano which we could gather around for informal sing-alongs and my sister and I took lessons to learn to play it. Mum enjoyed listening to music as well.

She was a strong woman. My father died of cancer and Mum lived thirty years as a widow, She looked after large flower and vegetable garden and cut the lawns until she started having heart attacks Then she stopped very reluctantly. She didn’t like to ask for help from but was the first to offer it when another person experienced sickness or death. She was a community volunteer and a faithful church member. It was hard on her when my sister died of cancer and she herself suffered from two bouts of this disease.

How do you measure lives? As far as I am concerned my mother wasn’t an ordinary person. I remember her personal quirks which often drove me nuts, her sense of order and routine, her caring spirit, her practical common sense, her frugality, and her ability to laugh at herself. Even when her health deteriorated at the end of her life, she wasn’t a complainer.

She was a good mother who left her mark on me if not on the world. I will always miss her. .