Don’t Forget to Remember Your Mother
by Helen Spencer
It’s both a cliché and a major regret to me, but I most certainly took my mother for granted.
Today, my two sons are off school (teachers on strike—less said the better), quietly watching TV and taking me for granted, whilst I make them lunch and bustle around them busily.
So it’s feels like an appropriate moment to sit down and attempt to remember some of the things that I had forgotten about her.
1. The way she wore her make-up. Just lipstick, mascara, and a touch of powder. No eye shadow or extra embellishment. Lipstick applied at an angle so that the stick had an odd slanting shape to it.
2. Short-hand typing. She was a skilled secretary and I marveled at the swirly foreign shapes she made on the lined page, which she could read back to me or type up with ease.
3. Shoe shops. Our favorite game. She regularly tolerated my desire to empty the hall closet of each and every pair of shoes, so that I could be the shopkeeper.
4. The way she and my aunt (friends for over fifty years) would laugh like drains (usually at a highly inappropriate moment, like my school play) until they lost control of their legs and tears came. Marvelous.
5. Her giant bras. I mean GIANT. I never inherited them (the boobies or the bras) 🙁
6. Rock cakes. She was always baking. I got to press the button on the mixer. And weigh things. It felt great.
7. Freckles. Loads of ‘em. Especially on her long, safe arms.
8. Crying. I only saw her do it twice. The first was when I was about fourteen and our dog had to be put to sleep—she just lost it. The next time I was twenty-one and she lost her own mother. Wow—I know how she felt now. No words. I am guessing she cried more but never wanted to do it in front of us kids. We never really saw our parents argue either. Self-control.
9. Driving. She was always the driver, even though my dad was a perfectly competent driver, mum always took the wheel. This never changed in all the years I can remember, but I never asked why.
10. Antiseptic cream. A fall, a cut knee, or a failed driving lesson. There was always the comfort of my mother’s healing arms and, if required, the omnipresent Savlon.
The more I sit here remembering, the more I realize that I could go on to fifty or one hundred. It just keeps flooding back. That’s the power of a childhood memory. I’ve been working up to writing this post, anticipating the emotions which I might feel right now, but all I feel is happiness. I feel ten years old again, she is smiling, and her skin is warm.
If your mother is close by, take a moment to study her. Write down the way her lip curls when she smiles, or the ring she wears on her right hand. Keep the memories locked tight in the vault of your mind, and in the years to come don’t forget to remember—bring them out for a quick dust and polish every now and then.
If you need help saving your family memories, there are plenty of resources out there, but SaveEveryStep.com is a free place to start. There you can preserve your family members’ life stories in chronological order on a timeline, enrich them with your narrative and media, and share online.
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