I wrote this one afternoon after witnessing a Mother and Daughter shopping during my lunch hour.
I saw a lady today out with her Mum:
Into town for some slippers they’d come,
Trying to find those familiar styles
From the way they talked, they’d travelled for miles.
“This won’t do, this slipper won’t fit,”
Said Mum looking sadly down at it.
Like Cinderella, she tries some more on,
Thinking of slim ankles now long gone.
“It’s getting late, we’ll have to go!
I haven’t got all day you know!”
“Can we have a bite to eat?”
“We haven’t time ‘cos of your big feet!”
“That last pair would do, I don’t mind,
I know taking me out can be a bind.
But please slow down, I don’t feel well-
I’m having a bit of a dizzy spell.”
“Stop fussing Mum! We have to rush
Or else we’ll miss our connecting bus!”
And so they left, a sorry sight,
And my heart ached for the mother’s plight.
To the daughter, I’d like to say
When folk get old, they need all day.
They can’t hurry like you and me,
Arthritis restricts their mobility.
Give your Mum time, make shopping a treat,
Let her rest often and put up her feet,
Make trips a pleasure and joy for your Mum,
Because, Love or Hate her, you only get one.
Every time I look in the mirror these days, I see my Mum looking back at me. Growing up, being mistaken by elderly aunts and uncles for my mother as a child or the phrase ‘Aren’t you like your Mum!’ meant very little, but now I can see EXACTLY what they were on about. I read once that if a man wanted to know what his wife would look like in 25 years, then he should look at her mother. That doesn’t work for those who became Mums as teenagers and I know of one who became a grannie at 34!
Mum was in her mid thirties when she had me, the last of her four children, and years ago the daughter of a friend of hers thought I was her Granddaughter! I’m still trying to work out if it’s because my Mum looked old, I look younger than my years, or worse case scenario, she thinks I am actually my sister’s daughter. Heaven forbid. Sis and I have very little in common, there are five years between us and she would be absolutely and totally furious if she thought that was the case. I should point out that my sister’s dark hair turned white overnight at the age of 30 when she had her second child (now 32), whereas mine is only slightly more peppered with grey than it was four years ago (no kids at all!).
In 1969, Mum had a little job and her boss let me help out in the school holidays. I earned the grand sum of £5 a week, two of which went to Mum, 2 into the post office, and the remaining pound covered my bus fare, lunches and anything else. Oh, those were the days!
I left school at 16 and got work in an office, still applying the rule of thirds from my paycheck so that if I had a payrise or bonus, so did Mum. If there was a heavy bill to pay, Sis and I would both chip in an extra fiver or so to help out as we didn’t take household running expenses for granted.
About eight months after I started work, Mum and I went clothes shopping. I had been a size 18 in January and nothing fitted anymore. She hadn’t realised just how much weight I’d lost until I came out of the changing room wearing a size 10. In fairness, she had a lot of other things on her mind, my now married sister hadn’t been well and Mum felt she was needed more there than by me, so I saw little of her actually. We had a smashing day though, and I came home with loads of packages containing clothes bought in sales or the market that I could mix and match into a variety of outfits. I treated Mum to something too as twenty pounds went a long way then.
My first husband and I used to go round for our tea on Tuesdays and I would wash and set Mum’s hair. I’m no hairdresser, so perms and trims were a professional job, but Mum loves having her hair done, and it was such a simple pleasure for her, I was happy to oblige.
I have always been pretty independent and moved out of the local area in 1981 after my divorce. In 1987 I was ill myself and it’s the only time I can remember feeling I needed my Mum, but she was 70 miles away, so I had to face my problems on my own. My sister did bring her up to visit, and the pair of them were shocked at the change in me. That in itself made me stronger and my recovery quicker.
As the years have progressed, I’m afraid I’m not as close to my Mum as most daughters are, but that doesn’t mean I love her any less. She is my Mum, just as she is to my brothers and sister.
After my father died, Mum remained living with my sister and although we’d drop in on Saturday mornings, hubby and I would collect her to stay with us for a weekend every couple of months. Every Wednesday she’d get on the bus and meet me for lunch in town where I was working. She too liked to be independent and do things under her own steam whenever possible. When we moved here, she would come up on the coach for a holiday and stay for several weeks. We’d have our girlie days (which gave my hubby some time to himself) , and these consisted of walks along the river bank to see the tiny ducklings or latest swan broods, the occasional game of bingo or a drive into town so that she could buy the usual sticks of rock for the 11 great grandchildren. Most often she’d join us on our walks with the dog, and we would have little outings as a family unit too, so we tried to make her stay as interesting and varied as possible without overtiring her. Surprisingly, she slept better here than she ever does at home.
Sadly her health has declined over the past three years and at 92, a 250 mile trip is too long and exhausting for her. If we visit, we have to do it in a day as my sister cannot put us up overnight and having the dog makes outside accommodation difficult and expensive. It’s at least a five hour journey each way so it takes its toll on us too. To compensate, I write newsy letters once a month or so, each closing by telling her I love her, but her replies these days are few and she doesn’t like to use the phone. However, I know she is safe with family, happy and looked after, and for that I am grateful.