Already the letterbox is groaning with paper advising me to buy something terrific for my mother. Well my mother has long gone to the garden in the sky and so there won’t be anything she needs now.
I don’t think we ever forget our mothers and I am still in awe of the range of things my mother accomplished. She was left a widow with four children the eldest 15, the youngest 5 (me). She ran the farm and household on very little money. There was a large vegetable and flower garden which she poured her energy into to feed us and to give her pleasure. She could make anything and our clothes were beautiful. There were few kitchen appliances but her sponge cakes, beaten by hand and cooked in a coal range were feather-light and delicious. Every Sunday afternoon there would be afternoon tea and she would have a pretty cloth with good china. There would be biscuits, small cakes and a large cake on the tea table. Then when afternoon tea was over and the cups washed and put back into the sideboard until the next week she would climb into her old clothes and go out to the cowshed and milk cows.
How did she do it?
I look around at my kitchen filled with equipment - a dishwasher, an automatic oven, a fridge - all things that we expect in a house. My mother had none of those things and we had to take turns to do the dishes. There was rarely spare money for gifts for Mother’s Day but one of the greatest gifts my mother would wish for in those days would be that we did the dishes and didn’t fight over who should dry.
Now as a mother with my children in other parts of the world, I, like my mother, don’t want a gift, I don’t need a new vacuum cleaner, nor a holiday in Tuscany. Just a phone call to say they are OK.