I want you to know, that you are my wonderful mother. It is strange that when I reflect back over my childhood years, it is the ordinary yet to me, extraordinary occasions that spring to mind. The little things that demonstrate just how naturally and extravagantly you take up your parenting role.
Like the time when the three of us siblings excitedly clubbed together to buy you the first ever gift from us at Christmas, with Dad’s help. It was boots hand cream in a large tall bottle. I can picture it now. You were delighted. It was the same hand cream that you regularly bought for yourself all year round – everyday, economy, in keeping with the good housekeeping and careful spending regime that was part of our family life. You remained delighted, when from one year to the next on Christmas day, the same gift was proudly presented, unwrapped and appreciated. Mum, you never showed any disappointment in our efforts to please. The ordinary, was made extraordinary.
Like the time when we were all racing up and down the path that ran next to our house and Simon hurled headfirst from his trike onto a concrete pillar. We brought him into the kitchen all three of us screaming and frightened. You showed no fear or panic. We knew that you knew what to do, and it was sorted. And his brain didn’t fall out of the hole in his head. And you provided comfort for all. We knew nothing of your own tears or fears on that day. Mum, you were always there to comfort and wipe away the tears. The ordinary, was simply extraordinary.
Like the times when your friends and their children would come to tea. They would come in eager anticipation of the spread which they knew you would provide, of your meringues and cakes, your pies and trifles, your macaroons and scotch pancakes – warm and fresh from your own mother’s blackened griddle pan. These were accompanied by endless cups of tea and delivered with perfect hospitality and care, without any loss of attention to the animated conversation that pervaded the atmosphere. Mum, you were always content, providing feasts for the hungry and keeping faces full and happy. The ordinary, was something extraordinary.
Like the time when you took me to the village shop that sold ladybird clothes and bought me a lilac nightdress because I had to go into hospital to have my tonsils out. I was so proud to have that ladybird label, so disappointed when that nightdress became too small for me to wear. And I fondly remember those special 3-biscuit packets of bourbons at the hospital café and the squash in the plastic cups which we stopped to indulge in whenever I had my eye tests; and the cut up apple outrageously sprinkled with sugar, taken as a treat in your bedroom when I was starting to recover after being off school unwell. Mum, you created special moments of comfort out of wearisome times. The ordinary, became extraordinary.
As a mother, you have always been warm, approachable, loving, generous and constantly ready to serve the needs of our family. These qualities extend way beyond your own family and I know this because there are so many friends and relatives that speak so kindly and lovingly of you. There have been so many good deeds, sacrifices and acts of compassion that you and Dad quietly undertook without any blow of trumpets or call for attention.
And yet, Mum, you have strength of character and a fighting spirit that might easily be missed by someone who doesn’t know you well. What people first see in you is your kindness, your care and concern for other people’s needs, and your desire to see others happy. Only in these years of my adulthood, have I taken note of the tales of your younger days, have I reflected on the parts of you that are less Mum, and more Neville – attractive, vibrant, determined, adventurous, bright and independent.
I love that knowing look in your eye that conveys defiance, acceptance and humour all at the same time.
I love your ability to remain positive and make the most of every situation. Recent times have tested this, but you keep bouncing back strong and full of determination.
I love the things you say which come from the depth of your heart – like the other week when talking about marrying Dad 58 years ago you said, that it was the best thing you ever did!
I love the way that you led your life without so much as a hint of using your physical difficulties as an excuse to expect less, achieve less, or be less.
I love the way that you refuse to fall-in to the expected way of thinking and in your own quiet way, challenge the norm.
I love the way that you have always appreciated people for their kindness, effort and attitude and not just their achievement.
I love you Mum and still enjoy sharing precious times with you.