Mothers' Day Musings
Now let’s be honest not everyone is in a celebratory mood. Not all women can be honoured and there are many who aren’t fit to be called Mother. Biblically Eve is “Mother” and she is revered, she’s honourable, above reproach, a person called by God to build a nation.
Only this morning I read of a woman in the Eastern Cape, who has been found guilty of “selling” her daughter to a man, the child was 12. On Thursday there was a programme on RSG about a girl who scraped up the courage to tell her mother about being abused and the woman laughed and suggested her daughter had imagined things. As mind boggling as it sounds there are women who murder their children, deprive them of good care, love and affection, children have been locked in cages, burned with cigarettes, cut, bruised, bullied and bashed, hated, spat upon and starved mentally, physically and emotionally. Read “It’s me Anna” and learn of a girl whose stepfather abused her for years, her mother refused to believe her.
After lunch this afternoon a man asked me to photograph him and when I asked him his name he told me who his mother was, reiterating it for me to remember; she was Yvonne van Wyk Morgan. He and I were born in the same year; life has been undeservedly kinder to me. Your son Simon Morgan still sings your praises.
Thankfully the majority of us were loved.
Today we celebrated Mothers' day with my Mom. We were privileged to have both parents for lunch. At 12h00 when we arrive my Mom was dressed to the nines, be-jewelled, groomed in a finely tailored suit (she doesn’t do the slack suit) and her feet shod in Italian calfskin leather. Although she would’ve liked to wear her pointy toed Ferragamo's, she didn’t get the nod.
You see she honours my Dad’s seal of approval. They were married in a time when women honoured, respected and were submissive to their husbands as the Good Book tells. He in turn LOVES her as he loves himself, and that, as God promised was a winning recipe for a good marriage. I’m sure they also had their ups and downs but on a scale of 1-10 theirs was a high 9.
As a modern woman and adoring wife she too read the iconic 70’s self-help book “The Total Woman it taught that "A Total Woman caters to her man's special quirks, whether it be in salads, chiffon or sports,"and is perhaps best remembered for instructing wives to greet their husbands at the front door wearing sexy outfits, or draped in transparentsaran wrap, with nothing (but herself) underneath. "It's only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, reveres and worships him and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him," Morgan wrote. What can I say? My children would say "too much info Gramma!"
As a child growing up I took all the abundance of love and attention for granted, as all children do, I didn’t question any of the rules as they suited me, made me feel secure, safe and loved.
Children rarely know that there is a world revolving around greater issues than their period pains, boyfriends, pimples and grumpy teachers. My ambition was getting away with smoking in the Tickey Box, going for a ride on Sam’s 60cc motorbike, sleeping over at the neighbour’s house so that we could go to the disco and stay out later than 11o’clock. I also wanted a matric dance dress from a shop and a partner for the evening! Twiggy was my role model not The Queen when it came to the length of my dresses.
All this while my parents agonised about drugs, the Vietnam war, Apartheid, the economy, Nelson Mandela, lung cancer, heart transplants, my future, careers and goodness knows what else. Grown up South Africans had bigger fish to fry in the 1970’s but, reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover was not on. In no uncertain terms!
And then I grew up, I forgot that I didn’t want to be anything like them, in fact I didn’t know how I was ever going to be like them. How I prayed to have her smile, her wisdom, courage, gratitude, unfailing pride and unconditional love for her children.
How did they make their budget stretch to the end of the month, do the things they did, go on holidays, entertain and still find being grown up “fun”. I know she made many sacrifices without complaint or regret, how many of us do that?
There are three things I still love best about my Mom, her laugh and her sense of humour and the smell of her home. As distinctive and unique as a fingerprint. If I had to lose my sight I’d be able to tell you exactly where I was in her beautiful home, filled with precious memories, each stick of furniture and piece of art carefully selected, perfectly arranged and lovingly cared for. She still polishes her silver and brass; rubs the crystal to a bright shine and serves her Five Roses tea in the finest porcelain. Chipped cups and stained Tupperware have no place in her cupboards. Her garden is peaceful, manicured and pretty. On any given day she’ll have fresh flowers in a vase, cookies in the jar, sweeties for the kids and bubbles for the bath.
Children were rarely seen and not often heard when we grew up, there was no reason to see or hear us, we played then, school-school, shop-shop, farm-farm or rode bicycles, swam, ran, explored, played cricket and swing ball on the lawn and if there was a minute to spare we read, played cards or constructed Mecano.
On the rare occasion when children were around it would be in the evening when all good children were asleep and we’d be put down behind a couch or chair, that was my favourite thing, to drift off hearing grownups talk and laugh, my Mom could laugh, sometimes a tinkle or a cackle and on occasion she had a guffaw to shake any house down. It was her lust for life and exuberance that couldn’t be stilled.
She certainly was no shrinking violet, and I imagine she was the belle of many a ball, I thought she certainly would be the prettiest there with her gorgeous evening gowns which she designed and made on a treadle Singer and then bead with hundreds of beads and sequins. I couldn’t wait to see her make an entrance with herbeehives and bouffant, sprayed (once accidently with fly spray!) high heeled, red lipstick’d, as she floated on a cloud of Chanel No 5 or Joy. Her jewelled evening bag would open like a Pandora’s Box in the morning with peppermints and After Eights for each of us wrapped in a tissue or paper napkin.
Drama, queen and perfectionist describe her to a T, she was hell bent on her ABC’s and we had to say “how now brown cow” with perfect diction, poise and that potato had to burn our tongues. But her talents didn’t end there the annual local theatre production was her doing too where she’d pummel latent acting talents out of the local community. I believe she sought out talented recruits while playing the piano at the Bungalows on a Friday night.
Today we salute our Mother, she who had to be obeyed, but we could trust and respect her. Her example stood us in good stead and she is our inspiration and motivation. Her unconditional love and forgiveness for all the mistakes we make restore us and give us hope. We are lucky in the knowledge that she prays for us every day unceasingly.
She’s strong, honest, kind, clever, resourceful, inventive, talented, creative, wise; she’s soft spoken and brave. She may be technically challenged but she’s well read, verbal, opinionated and well versed. She may forget a telephone number or a great grandchild’s birthday but she knows Western Province won their game and knows David Beckham’s turned 40 (and probably what his bank balance is too).
I admire her for NEVER saying anything unkind to or about someone, she never gossips and has NEVER uttered a swear word, she knows how to chose her words carefully. But above all this I cherish her for loving my father unconditionally, for loving us and for being the best grandparent our children could ever have wished for.
If you're on the road at about 16h00 in the afternoon you might spot them, a tall man with a head of thick, wavey, silver hair holding the hand of a tiny lady with a huge hat pulled firmly over her head.
Elvis Presley said of his mother: “I never felt poor. There were always shoes to wear and food to eat -- yet I knew there were things my parents did without just to make sure I was clothed and fed.”
And this is what he said about beauty “The most beautiful thing in the world to me is a baby lookin' as pretty as her mama”.
Mom today we celebrate you and wish you a long life, you’re our unsung hero who gives much but expects nothing in return. You’re a rock star and we're blessed to have you.
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