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dimanche 19 juin 2011

Mother's Day

You probably think I'm crazy - it isn't actually "Mother's Day" in Britain, France or the US today, it's Father's Day.

But today would have been my mother's day - her birthday. If she hadn't died on 13 August 2003, she would have been 78 today, which sounds amazingly old. I can't imagine her old like that; she was 70 when she died (though she looked like she was about 100 - a barely living skeleton, shrunken skin and bone, no spark in her eyes, no impression that she had any idea of who she was, where she was...) and in my memories of her before she became this other person, this stranger I didn't know, she was pretty much a wild child, a free spirit, obsessed with the moon and the stars, a lover of the sun and nature and birds. An artist in her soul, always sketching, reciting poetry, singing songs.

My mother and I had a strained and distant relationship (I've talked about this before) and she really didn't know me very well. She projected through me, and was disappointed that I didn't have her artistic talent (I'm not bad, but she was good). She became proud of me, but still. I'm pretty sure she considered me responsible for screwing up her life, making her leave the job she loved, making her a lonely, isolated housewife who did nothing to help herself and gradually became bitter.

She loved her birthday, loved being a Gemini, loved being born in the summer, during the season of roses and warmth and long days. She hated the winter months with a passion, was remarkably sensitive to cold for someone born in the north-east of Scotland and brought up in a house with neither heating nor electricity nor running water. She hated the short days.

I've said it before, I know, but I don't actually miss my mother. I miss, instead, the mother I never had, the mother I would have liked to have had, someone to confide in, someone to teach me things, guide me, help me become an adult. She had many qualities, but she failed in those respects, teaching me nothing of the ways of the world, giving me no insight into love and romance, never giving me "the talk", never considering me as anything more than a child.

For all her failings as the mother of a daughter, however, I'm pretty sure she would have made a wonderful grandmother to my little girls, and that is what I miss about her the most, perhaps. The fact that she never got to know C properly (they met twice, once when C was 7 months old, once the day before she died, when C was 19 months old) and never met L at all (she wasn't conceived till just after my mother's death) is perhaps my biggest regret.

But we'll never know what she would have been like. She's been dead for almost 8 years now, and the mother I remember seems a lifetime ago.


Happy Birthday, Mummy. I never forget this day, how much you loved it. It will always be your birthday in my heart.

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