It felt like we were bonding for a moment, because we never did see eye to eye on certain things. Mother was very loving, but she was very protective over us all. I’ve always wanted to do nice things for her. I want to get to know her a little better and understand why she sometimes did the things she did, like changing her mind at the last minute, or talking me into doing things I knew were not the best idea for me at the time.
I know now why she did a lot of the things she did, because she only wanted us to get the best out of life. She was trying to make up for the trauma Father’s temper had caused over the years.
Our little sister who passed changed Mother’s view on life. She has lived her life from that moment on as though each moment was her last. She never bothers to save things or expect things will last forever. I asked Mother why we never visited our sister’s grave, and her answer has been “It is better this way, Susan, let her rest in peace.” It often feels as though my sister is still with us somehow. Her name was Flora and Mother named her third child after her, maybe to stop the pain of losing her. I believe it was Mother’s way of dealing with the loss of her angel.
“You may not know when you will be called,” she’d warn, when we were children. “One day we are here and the next we are gone.” I hated that reality even though it was the honest to goodness truth. “Someone always has it worse,” she’d say, “so stop you’re complaining now, and go outside and play.” We would scramble pretty fast. We spent all day outside building forts, swimming at the ‘turn hole’, where the water pooled as if in a basin, and riding our bikes.
We loved to play on the railway tracks directly behind our house, even though we were told not to. We rode our bikes at a very fast speed and flew over the 'dump', so named as you were often dumped off into the tall grass after crossing the hump that covered the tracks. Later, when we were older, we jumped it in our cars.
We knew what time the train would come to flatten our pennies, and we'd put our ear to the ground, listening for the rumble. We’d put the pennies on the track, hoping to get the flattest, biggest one. I had some awesome pennies.
When we played marbles, the pot hole had to be just right. I would win every time. I had a great collection. A little like golf, but a smaller game in a way.
Mother liked her time alone and night time was her time as we grew up. She sometimes seemed so far off in the distance with her memories, not getting out of her housecoat much. It must have been so hard for her to raise us on her own.
Social services was all she had for many years, until she discovered she was entitled to Father’s veteran pension. The lump sum was a lot back then, just what she needed to get her on her feet. She purchased a car, second hand of course, and bought us some things we needed.
She loved to smoke Rothman cigarettes, her one indulgence. It just seems like a complete waste of good lungs, and besides it makes a person cranky when the cigarettes run out. She stopped smoking, and is still going strong at ninety years of age.
Have I been harmed by having witnessed the abuse my Mother endured for the sake of her children? Of course I have. I now have children of my own. I am a strong woman. I return to 'the river’ each year with my children, moving the rocks and letting the fish have a place to swim. I have forgiven my Father. I have found peace.