Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day on this side of the world is coming up on the Sunday of Paddy's Weekend, I am unreliably informed. Some of my female workmates proclaim at the dinner table in the work canteen:

"What kind of card are you getting Herself, this year?"

"For Mother's day? Feck-all! She's not me mother!"

"Ah but she'll still expect a card and all!"

I asked Herself about this. Well, not so much asked as told:

"You don't expect a feckin' Mother's Day card from me do you?"

"What?" she said, as if I'd asked if were likely to go to Confession on Saturday. "When in the name of Jaysus did you ever buy me a Mother's Day card? Sure I'm not your mother!"

That settled it to everybody's satisfaction.

Herself and I, out driving on Mother's Day a few years back, passed by a geezer hopping back into his car with a handful of daffs plucked from the Council's roadside plantings. "He forgot Mothers' Day!" we chanted.

My mother who is gone now loved daffodils. Mother's Day falls in the middle of the daffodil season.

She also liked whiskey, like her mother before her. My Dad used to bring a baby Powers Gold Label to his mother-in-law, my Granny Sweeney, whom I don't remember, when things like baby whiskies were a luxury.

Mam liked bags of sweets to squirrel away in the pocket of a cardigan or down the side of a chair. She'd root around until something in a purple wrapper or a pink one would come to hand then happily suck the chocolate off the toffee centre or the caramel. She was generous too, and would fill your pockets with sweets whether you wanted them or not.

"I have plenty!" she'd say, insisting that you took some.

"Have a drink!" she'd order. "I'm having one." And pouring from the whiskey bottle she put a treble or quadruple measure into your glass and finish it off with a thimbleful of red lemonade, sit there sipping in front of the telly as Coronation Street wound its soap opera stories in one ear and out the other of her.

"This was on before," she'd say after a while.

Once, during a hot day when we had the front door open, a half-naked child ran in off the street and straight up the stairs.

A pre-teen babysitter ran in after him.

"It's all right, Mrs Walsh! He's not the full shilling!"

And as I hunted the little brain-damaged divil back down the stairs my mother rustled about in the kitchen, finally galloping after him on the driveway with a handful of digestive biscuits.

"Here," she said to his uncomprehending face. "For you."

She'd give cigarettes to my cousin, Paul, when he had none and money if he wanted it, which was always, though to be fair he only called to us as a last resort - and very seldom - when his drinking cronies had nothing for him. She cooked food for the woman up the road who couldn't face another moment with her husband and her sons and carried a pot of steaming spuds up to the door for her. And in the end when she'd done all she'd wanted to do, she simply told us:

"I've had enough. I'm going to go asleep now and not wake up. Goodbye."

And so, after a short time in hospital, she went.

No cards for this year then, nor for the past few years. I'll be thinking of her though, looking at the Council's daffodils along the roadways. And in the eating of a sweety or two. And a whiskey in front of the telly.

Miss you, Mam.

5 comments:

Jo said...

Ahhh Willie.

Angh said...

On my calendar it indeed denotes the 18th as Mothering Day...correct me if I'm wrong but Herself is somebody's mother, and has probably even mothered you on occasion?? How about her fave flower, or a plant if she likes them better...and perhaps a card geared to acknowlege "Outstanding Achievement". Like the song says, "You know it don't come easy..."

Happy St. Patrick's Day anyhow.

Willie_W said...

Herself is somebody's mother, it is true. And will doubtless receive suitable commemorations of the day from those somebodies.

Liam said...

Tenderly and beautifully written Willie. A lovely tribute to an apparently loving person.

Willie_W said...

Thanks, Liam. We have our moments. I'm lucky in that I work with a chap with the same kind of nature, sense of humour, and even the same way of laughing as me Ma. I think of her a lot when I see him twinkle in the face of adversity.