Sunday, 3 April 2011
Today, here in the U K. it is Mothering Sunday - the day in the year when we especially remember our mothers. Of course we remember them every day but once they are gone (mine died in 1972) it is nice to have one special day in the year when we can recall happy memories.
The photograph is of my mother and me and was taken in 1933 in the garden of our house in Linconshire. My mother was over forty when I was born and I was not expected - when I popped out - very premature - it was a surprise all round. But that didn't mean there was any less love and I had a very happy childhood.
Alice Maud was born in 1890 in the Fenlands of Lincolnshire. One of nine children, she had four brothers and four sisters, all of whom grew to adulthood - not always the case in those days of rampant TB.
By the age of fourteen she was in service in Lincoln, twelve miles away, where she lived with a butcher's family. She used to speak of scrubbing the slaughter house floors on her hands and knees in the middle of Winter and of carrying hot bottles upstairs to her 'mistress' who was staying in bed because of her period pains when she, my mother, had similar pains. Later on, when I was myself a married woman, she would get really cross if I knelt down on the floor for any reason - telling me I would end up with arthritic knees like her (she was right!)
At nineteen she became pregnant with my sister and went back home for the birth. She married six months after my sister was born, when my father was 21 and able to go against his family's wishes. Quite a disgrace in those days, she fought all her life to keep the information secret. We all knew but never liked to mention that we knew so she went to her grave thinking she had kept it from us - such a shame as we were all so open about it between ourselves and would like her to have known that it meant nothing at all to us. And when their Golden Wedding day came round they couldn't celebrate it because that would have meant they would have exposed the secret.
She had five children altogether but lost two to pneumonia - another killer in those days. But she gave the three of us - well spaced with eleven years between each - her unconditional love - as did my Dad.
In her final years she was ridddled with osteo-arthritis and could barely walk but she never lost her cheerfulness and her ability to sort things out for us all. She kept an old teapot behind the settee in the living room and it was always full of money she had saved. If there was ever a mini crisis of shortage of funds then she would say "go and look in the teapot!"
A brilliant, loving, caring Mum and today - on Mother's day - I salute her memory - with love.