Recently the extended clan gathered to celebrate Mum’s 80th Birthday – which inevitably led to some “Musings on Mother”
Mum once said about us kids growing up (something along the lines of):
“It was good when you became old enough to play with and entertain each other, and even better when you were old enough to be helpful with the household chores and be more independent, but it was really nice when you were mature enough for us to be friends (i.e. more than the parent – child relationship).”
“Pat cf Mum”
Not long after I finished Form 6 and was travelling around NZ, in one of the letters that Mum wrote to me she queried as to whether, having passed the (maturation?) milestone of finishing secondary school and approaching the ripe old age of 18 i.e. bordering on “adulthood”, I would prefer to call her “Pat” rather than “Mum”. My unequivocal and immediate response was that everyone who knows her can call her Pat but only four of us (at the time – though since then also a few select others) have the privilege of calling her “Mum”.
When Mum finished working at Darwin Hospital – after some 21(?) years in a number of key roles there was a large farewell afternoon tea for her at the Hospital. When she came home she humbly commented that she was surprised at the number of people who were in attendance including some notable senior staff and NT government dignitaries but she did admit that the many wonderful and effusive compliments that people made to and about her did make her feel “all glowing”.
Whilst both our parents engendered in us a strong social conscience, Mum did add a more overt political expression. I have a memory of attending with Mum (and perhaps a sibling or two) an anti-nuclear (?) rally in the Melbourne CBD in the mid 1970’s and being part of a mass lying down in one of Melbourne’s main streets. as a teenager I thought that that was pretty cool.
Another influence of Mum’s (absorbed to varying degrees) was house cleanliness. After we moved out of home, we used to joke, that the first thing Mum would do when she visited us in our own homes was wipe down the kitchen benches! Of course the other sentiment behind such acts was being a helpful visitor. When Mum and Dad visited me in Laos (2002) Mum started off being her useful self e.g. making up their bed in the mornings and cleaning up around the place. As they were on holiday and I had a full-time cleaner-cook there was no need for Mum to do this. So I told Mum that she risked offending Khing (the cleaner-cook) if she kept “helping” as Khing might feel that Mum’s actions were implying that Khing wasn’t doing a good enough job. This logical was both true and very effective and putting Mum into proper holiday mode. Both my parent’s developed a genuine fondness for Khing during that visit.