Earlier this week, my niece posted pictures of my Mum on her Facebook page that were taken on her 90th birthday. It stirred some memories because my nephew commented how he remembers her laugh! I sent him a link to my poem about her….
…. and apparently it produced an emotional response.
My Mum was a remarkable role model, and it was all totally intuitive. She had little more than a basic education, but exemplified some major attributes. She had sufficient pride to maintain a healthy self-esteem, but no more. She worked in various jobs; in a major store as a sales assistant; a bus conductor; she packed groceries for delivery, and was a seamstress for a local theater. She knew that she had to work, and therefore took anything that was available.
Both my Mum and Dad were very private people, and I cannot recall one time when they entertained at home. They were self sufficient in their own little world however, they made a huge impact on me around 1969/1970.
I knew a young lady who was having a very difficult time at home and, at one point, decided that her solution would be to kill herself. She overdosed but, fortunately, was discovered and rushed to hospital. When she was discharged, her only option was to return to her home, but it was clear that there was no understanding, sympathy or compassion for her there. My (then) wife and I decided that, until we could come up with a better arrangement, she could live with us.
As we lived very close to her home, it really was not the best solution, and she really needed a total break from her earlier experiences. I decided to contact my Mum and Dad and see if they would consider taking her for however long it took for her to regain some stability, and move forward with her life.
My Mum and Dad lived a 3 hour drive away, and on the coast so it would be perfect. My concerns were whether they would consider not only sacrificing their privacy, but also having a young girl living with them who they knew nothing about. Would they want to take some responsibility for a young girl who had attempted suicide not much earlier?
Once I explained the circumstances, they both immediately said yes… of course. It was almost as if they were surprised that I felt I had to so delicately work around to asking!
While I admired both of them for that decision, it was my Mum that took on the major caring role. When my Mum passed away many years later, that young girl (now much older of course) remembered so well how she was treated like a member of the family. My Mum treated her like she had her own daughters.
When we moved to Canada and our daughter (in her teens) started bringing friends home who were having various difficulties at home, it really was not surprising that a few of them lived with us for periods of time. I cannot describe the sense of satisfaction, of fulfillment, when you offer sanctuary to an individual who has clearly run out of options, and then seeing them become independent a few months later.
Thank you Mum. You may be remembered for your laughter (and so you should), and for your sparkling eyes (and so you should), but my memories of you have, at the top of the list, the time when you took care of a young girl, and made her feel loved as one of your family.