Thursday, 5 August 2010

Mothers Birthday

This day has special meaning for me and always will have. No explanation needed, just the excerpt from my diary of 1985.

'The birthday of Mary Elizabeth Stevens, my mother. An incredible, independent, stubborn, beautiful fighter. What do I remember thirty two years on?

I remember a little, busy woman, working, often, almost always working. preparing school meals, cleaning for the rich, cleaning our home for her pride. I remember shopping in Derby at Cheshires, an old family business, returning usually with 'yellow fish' or pyclets, two favourites that we could ill afford.

I remember a home maybe lacking in the trappings of wealth, but a happy home, scrupulously clean. We lived in three different houses until Mary died in 1953. Try as I might, only fleeting memories can be retrieved. A cherry lady ornament in a window, cherries held aloft invitingly but never consumed. a Westminster chimes clock, erratic in its timekeeping. A pot cat with amazing long neck and amusing expression. a black leaded dog, almost certainly a Scottie. Sweets lovingly made from flour, cocoa and other forgotten ingredients. Rather secretive visits to her nightwatchman friend, also named Stevens, the nearest Mary came to romance as a hardworking widow, mother of two. similarly secretive visits to Stockbrook Street, home of Ernest Steven's sister, Elsie. (An area rating lowly in most eyes, similarly rated in the eyes of the Hudstons.) Strange days, long ago days, but happy days nevertheless.'


I was of course only thirteen when my mother died. And this diary was written twenty five years ago; where do the years go. Some of this diary excerpt is no doubt unintelligible to 'outsiders'. But I bet few can claim an extended family devoid of problems or complications. We might think we are 'in control' of our little insignificant lives in the short term, but make no mistake, over a lifetime we are 'in the lap of the gods' so to speak. We are what we are, moulded by experiences often beyond our control.

14 comments:

Anita said...

One of life's many mysteries - why young children have to lose their parents.

You summed it up profoundly, although I'd like to think that we do have "some" control.

Valerie said...

Reading this gave me a glimpse of yesteryear, resurrecting things forgotten. Life is so different now with our new fangled machines and a more leisurely lifestyle, yet family love still abounds, as it did then.

Gaston Studio said...

I can't relate to loosing a parent as a child but you were a lucky young man to have such wonderful memories.

I LOVE FRANCE said...

A lovely post.
What special memories you have of a very dear mum.
My mum died at 52 when i was 27 i still miss her.
I had just had my daughter Rebecca who was only 11 weeks old cannot believe sometimes she never got the joy i have had fromm her for 21 years .
Life is very hard sometimes.

slommler said...

What wonderful memories of your mother. And you are so right. Many times, things happen beyond our control and they do shape us. And we must learn to accept and move on. My mom says, "Getting older isn't for wimps!" She is right!
Hugging you
SueAnn

Happy Frog and I said...

My Dad died suddenly when I was 15 and part of the reason I am enjoying writing my blog is to capture some of the memories I have of him from time to time. I love your final line, so true.

A man called Valance said...

The loss of a parent is a milestone in anyone's life, but for you to lose your mother so young is especially touching. How precious those memories. Beautiful, Ken.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Anita
Thanks, in a way we are what we are and there's not much we can do about it.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Valerie
All very true. i suppose our children will say just the same in years to come.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Gaston Studio
true in a way but some memories I would rather not have. life's never simple is it.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

I Love France
Thanks. Life is never predictable. Mind you, we'd probably mess it up if we were in control.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

slommler
Your mother sounds a wise woman!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Happy Frog
Thanks. I have been writing my memories, 1945-59 for several years. Over 60,000 words, don't know what will happen to them.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

A man called Vallance
Thanks and all so true.