Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mothers - mine in particular!

Today would have been my parent's 58th wedding anniversary. And because my Dad died 8 years ago, and because Mother's Day is coming up I thought I would write about my Mum.

Let me introduce you to Joy, aka Granny, Mum, Ommielove.

How do you describe the woman who has always been there? Mum is gentle, sweet, kind, and happiest when she is with her family. She is shy and self-deprecating, and the world's worst worrier. Marge and I have had frequent words about the worrying, believe me. You name it, and she will worry about it. Or anyone. If she meets you, you go on the worry list. But in her case, it means on the "I care" list. She is intersted in everything, and everyone. She has a memory like an elephant which totally puts mine to shame. I mean, for heaven's sake, she is the one who reminds me of my friends' birthdays etc. And she is a total whizz at Countdown and crossword puzzles. Her fount of knowledge is astounding.

Not unusual when I tell you that she went to university when she was 17 and has not only a BA in English, but also a Master's degree as well. Jane Austen I think. I have her dissertation on my bookshelf behind me. Super bright. Super intelligent. And a master crafter to boot. She and her best friend Auntie Myra were a force to be reckoned with when we were growing up. They masterminded and totally stocked annual fetes at our church themselves. They made everything. EVERYTHING.

They formed the Busy Bees, a group of women from church, and they catered for all events, like weddings, teas and church celebrations. There was always something to be created. My Dad's study became the sewing room, covered with threads. The cupboards were full of oven gloves, aprons, fabric and sewing paraphenalia.

Mum was never taught to sew by any teacher, and Granny certainly did no sewing at all, that I can recall. She just learnt as she went along, and somehow, Marge and I have inherited her love of making things. Somethings not quite as well. I think I have mentioned the booties I started knitting for Andrew when I was pregnant. Hah. Mum said, what a good idea, I will knit some too. And I had half finished an inch of one bootie, and she had made an entire layette, of matinee jackets, booties etc. I tossed my needles over the couch and vowed never to knit again. She is good. Very good.

I may have mentioned that she crochets blankets. This house is drowning under the heap she has created. She cannot sit and do nothing, so we will never ever in any ice age, be cold. We give them away to anyone who wants them, and she is happy.

Mum was born in Cape Town to British parents. She was the second of 3 children. My uncle, Geoffrey, died when he was 18 months old, and Mum was born a year or so after he died. She had a younger brother, who we called Unkie, who died when he was just 55. Good grief, not much older than I am now. He never married.

She met my Dad at university, and she fell in love. So did he, and they were married when she was 24, because my grandfather said they could only get married when my Dad earned a certain amount of money which sounds unbelievable today. I think it was about £48 a month.

Mum was absolutely beautiful. And today she still never colours her hair. Marge and I have way more grey hair than she does, by the way. It is a source of much irritation. She laughs. She and Dad were at the Queen's 21st birthday ball in South Africa.

They built their first home, to their own design, and that was where I spent the first 6 years of my life. Dad was a civil engineer, and Mum stayed home with us. She had worked for a few years as a legal secretary after she graduated, and she really loved her job, but once she was married, in those days, you stayed home.

That would be me with Mum in Granny's garden. See? I kept her amused.

And then Marge arrived. And I look particularly fetching with the bow in the hair.

We moved to the second home they built when I was about 6, and that was where they would still be, had Dad not got so ill. Our home in Claremont was the centre of so much of our lives. People dropped in at all times. It was a place everyone knew they would be welcome. Dad had a pool built after we had been on our European adventure, because he hated driving to the beach every weekend in summer in queues of traffic, and so the house was always full of our friends coming to swim and play. Christmas nights were legendary. No-one was ever actually invited, but a feast for about 30 people was always prepared. By Mum. And come they did. Sometimes more than 40. Laughter, singing, playing about, games, fun. The perfect way to grow up. My wedding reception was in the garden at home too.

Dad worked long hours, and as a workaholic, he also brought work home with him, so a lot of the time it was us, the 3 girls together. Mum had a miscarriage after Marge was born, and as she said, they just didn't have the heart to try again, after that. So the 3 girls it was.

Once Marge and I had grown up, she and Dad did a lot of travelling - all over the place. When she was small, Mum travelled a great deal with her parents, so she has always loved visiting new places and seeing the world. She has even flown on Concorde!

When Andrew was born, Mum was there to help. Geoff was in Norway and only came home when Andrew was 6 weeks old, so having Mum to help possibly saved my sanity with a colicky baby. We will not recap on the Linds has a sewing machine and sewed everything backwards bit here. I will remind you that Mum howled with laughter. I seem to recall her being unable to speak at the time. Or breathe. I remember when she took Andrew out for a walk in the pram. And because I was the only person in the world capable of looking after my son, instead of resting, as she intended, I followed her round the block, hiding behind trees. To make sure she knew how to cross roads with the pram. With my son in it. I mean, she had just been a parent for 22 years, for heaven's sake. She coped admirably. It is a wonder I wasn't arrested.

She is the world's best Granny, and she has been a major part of my children's lives. She has crawled around the floor with each of them, playing games. She spoils them rotten, but that is what Grannies do. Always there. Always willing to help. Always a part of our lives. And now the babes too, love climbing all over her when they visit. She has a great deal of patience with little ones.
Mum and Dad at Marge's wedding party at home. They got married in Switzerland and then came to Cape Town to celebrate.

In Switzerland for Andrew and Ann's wedding.
And on her 80th birthday, my brother-in-law, Peter, took her for a whizz around the village on his trike. How many 80 year olds do you know who put on leathers and go off on trikes???? Plenty of life in my Mum! She is amazing. We love her to bits, and so does everyone she meets. She is Granny to all.

So there you have it. My Mum. She should start her own blog. She has many stories to tell!


mary said...

What a beautiful tribute. Please pass on my regards to your beautiful leather clad mum.

Keeping it real - http://familyrevised.blogspot.com/
is coming up soon. I think the topic will be 'new mommy' moments. You should expand on your stalking story. I can just picture it. What a hoot!

Aliadelaide said...

I ditto what Mary said,what an inspiration your mum is to all us mums.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Love stories like this one bring tears to my eyes. Do encourage your mother to start her own blog! We'd all love to read it. Besides, I am quite certain that she could tell us so much more about you! Scary thought, eh?

Barbara said...

Wow, I am away for 3 nights and have 6 posts to catch up on here. Interesting to read about your life with your Mum. You have not chnged in looks since you were a youngster I think.
Like the garden shed and fence. The garden is looking nice too.
A lady after my own heart - if I dont come in exhausted and aching then I'm off to do some more.

Susie said...

Hi Linds,
This was a marvelous tribute!
Your Mom sounds like a wonderful and talented lady. How blessed you are to still have each other.

Isabelle said...

What a lovely post. Your mum sounds wonderful. And you all look so like each other! - your mum and you and your children. We all look completely different.

Mother's Day? Is this South African Mother's Day?

Hope the muscles are feeling better.

Crystal said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Mum! She must be very special - to have a daughter like you :))

Dawn said...

I love this tribute - she sounds like an amazing lady. I would encourage her to blog - that would be so wonderful! Tell her we all want to hear more about her - and you!

Needled Mom said...

If she can ride trikes at 80, she can certainly start a blog!! We'd all love following her wonderful stories.
This was a terrific tribute to a lady who has left a great legacy of her own.

At A Hen's Pace said...

What a special lady!! I loved how you shared pictures from so many different times in her life.

You seem very like her. --Except for the sewing and knitting!



Judith said...


Thanks for telling us about your family, and especially for the pictures. They showed so much love
between you all.

Your Mom is my kind of woman, all that caring for her own, and a
constitution many only wish they had. Please tell her I'd like knowing more about her growing up time.