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tv dinners

memory lane
memory lane

Simple, happy memories are a part of the puzzle of who we are.

When I was about ten or eleven, I can remember getting extremely excited every time Mum announced that Dad had a meeting, and wouldn’t be home till late. Sorry Dad, it’s a great memory that you helped to create by not actually being there! It wasn’t regular, it was usually on a Tuesday, and Mum would often make one of my favourite meals, which was mince stew with tinned pineapple, and a pile of mashed potato on the side. If it was cold and wintry, she would top it off, by whipping up a self saucing steamed chocolate pudding with custard for dessert.

I am someone who remembers events based on the food I ate, however the crux of this story, is that with Dad out of the picture for the evening, we got to eat our dinner while watching TV. The sense of illicit freedom I felt on those evenings was huge. Essentially Mum was being the good cop for a night, revealing to us through her actions that it was Dad who dictated the rules on strict TV control which were normally in place. I’m not sure what we would have done if he had arrived home earlier than expected. It wasn’t spoken of as a secret, but we all knew that it was, even though looking back now, I’m certain Mum would have shared it all with him when he arrived home late at night, for his over-cooked stew (she always left his dinner on a plate in a blazing oven until he arrived home…perhaps she was not all that happy about his meetings).

I have replicated the screen dictatorship of my parents, but Friday night is movie night in our house, and it’s bliss. Sometimes we all watch…sometimes I write and pretend to watch…and sometimes if I’ve had a tough week, I take a bath, do yoga or just meditate. There is so much excitement and anticipation running up to the night. What are we watching? Whose turn is it to pick the movie? What’s for dinner? The build up is almost as much fun as the night.

My food isn’t as classy as my Mums. I haven’t mastered the art of using tinned fruit in my dinners yet, and I don’t imagine I ever will. I’m not sure if that was a fad of the seventies, or if it was just my family. There are many more food memories down that lane.

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another story about my Mum

Mum in 1941
Mum in 1941

For me, writing is one of the best ways to deal with the gradual and deeply painful loss of of my beautiful Mum to dementia. When I was finishing my writing degree at Uni a few years ago, I wrote about her almost continuously. She hadn’t deteriorated much at that point, but I didn’t know that. When you’re losing someone, you become so caught up in what’s been lost, that you don’t always stop to consider what remains. I didn’t grasp the full potential of where she would end up back then, of how far her mind and body would fail. I still don’t think I do.

Some days the shadow of dementia just drifts over her like a gradually shifting tide, and the next it’s a crashing ocean. The only certainty in her life, is the downward spiral, and it all feels so tragic and pointless.

But she’s given me a heart full of amazing memories, and a never ending stream of inspiration for the path I’m on as a Mother today.

She was a real textbook Mum. The kind that everyone wants. She has always been a peaceful person, full of grace and warmth and love. I was taller than she was by the time I turned eleven, which I thought was hilarious. Sunken living rooms were all the rage back then (so was the word rage). She would hug me a lot, with me in the sunken room, and her on the step, so that I could continue to feel like her baby, even though my body was becoming so long. She would tuck me into bed so tightly that I could barely move or breathe, and it felt amazing. I can remember a few unstable points in my adult life when I stayed with her and Dad, and she would do the same thing.

I don’t remember her ever raising her voice at any of us (I was one of four), and I know now what a superhuman feat that was. She studied and worked full time from when I was 5. She ran a stupidly efficient home, which I have only recently come to fully appreciate. She taught me how to do and love many things. My passion for cooking stems directly from her. I love to bake. I don’t actually remember her baking a lot, but she always encouraged us to bake. I think there is a link between that and ‘running a stupidly efficient home’! She created so many food traditions for us, which have influenced how I cook for my family today. She had lots of creative hobbies, but nothing self indulgent. Nothing she couldn’t do while teaching one of us to do the same thing, or have a meaningful conversation with one or all of us at the same time.

She was a phenomenal Mum, an inspirational person, and is constantly in my thoughts. Happy Mothers Day beautiful lady, you are, and always will be the most amazing Mum in the universe to me.

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Mother’s Day

imageI used to always write in my Mum’s Mothers Day card, “to the best mum in the entire universe”, because she is, and I always wanted her to know. Now as her memory slips, it gets harder and harder to know how to really connect on days like today, which have essentially lost their meaning. So I am sending her this.

Dad, please read this to my beautiful Mum.

Mum, I love you today and every day. You are the best role model I could ever have had as a Mother, and I aim as high as I can to try and be to my boys what you are to me. I have absolutely no recollection of you ever losing your temper, and I can’t say I’ve managed that so far. I do say that “I’m very cross” a fair bit, a phrase which only enters your vocabulary once you are a Mother I think, but I also hear myself echoing many of the great Mum things you used to say, and I never thought I would. Each day for me as a Mum, I think about how you did it, and it makes me try that little bit harder to honour the gift you gave me, of a happy, peaceful and meaningful childhood. I love you Mum and I have known every day of my life that you love me too. You are the best Mum in the universe!

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