This has to be one of the most precious experiences in life. I pick up Mum and we drive out to Caprice’s house about 5 minutes out of town. Caprice has relocated a 100 year old cottage and is gradually renovating. She has impeccable taste and we find it so enjoyable checking out what she has been doing lately. Her new kitchen is light and bright and Mum marvels over the hexagonal tiles in the splash back. She tells us about her first little cottage when she got married nearly 70 years ago. It was basic and money was tight, but she loved her first home. The wood stove was unpredictable, but she learnt to bake her famous sponges and scones. She still makes scones and I swear she uses them as a type of currency. They get exchanged for veggies from Bill’s garden next door, or given to people who happen to do something for her. I think they would trade better on the stock exchange than the Australian dollar. Anyway, after patting the cat, April, who Mum adores, we notice the old sideboard in Caprice’s dining room. Mum’s mother passed it onto her, then she passed it onto me. I had it restored, and have now passed it onto Caprice. We are delighted that it fits in so well and looks like it was specially made for the spot. Then it’s time to take our tea out to the veranda and settle to watch the world go by. Nothing much happening because we’re in the country, but we laugh at the puppy, Chester, getting into mischief. Hardly a puppy, Mum says, he’s monstrous. Caprice says he’s still a baby, Nanna, he’s only 6 months old.
Too soon, it’s time to drive back to town, via a few paddocks so she can check the cattle. She lived on the land all her married life, and loves the rural lifestyle. She remarks that it must be going to rain soon because her knees are playing up, and just as well because it’s quite dry. Back home again, I kiss her goodbye, and as always she thanks me for the outing.
No thank you, Mum, for your brilliant company.
I picked Mum up on Christmas Eve and brought her out to my house. My two brothers had arrived and we were busy making potato salad, fruit salad, and trifle for Christmas. She was site supervisor, giving instructions as to how many apples, how much lemon juice, and how small to dice the potatoes. Then she said she was sorry to keep telling us what to do. I said for goodness sake, Mum, this is your domain. We have no idea about making this stuff so you’re in charge. A few years ago she had written down the recipes for the foods of our traditional Christmas dinner. I had fished it out from my neglected pile of cookbooks. The kitchen is definitely not my strongest area of expertise! She’d made ‘patty cakes’, she refuses to call them cup cakes. So we sat out on the deck with coffee and ‘patty cakes’ and discussed the events of the past year.
Next morning, my brother drove her out for the big day. No Christmas presents this year, I had announced earlier in December. We have no one below the age of 22 in the family, and everyone was relieved to not have to rack their brains for ideas. Mum was really glad not to have to shop for presents because, at the age of 90, tackling the Christmas rush, even in our tiny town of Miles didn’t bear thinking about. So coffee and slice that she had made, was the first thing on the agenda. My husband and I then retired to the kitchen to peel the veggies and put the pork, turkey, chicken and ham in the oven to roast. Definitely a hot roast dinner for our family, including plum pudding (made by Mum), fruit salad, trifle, custard, cream, jelly and ice cream.
So another traditional family Christmas ticked off. So obscenely full, no one can move. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Mum is a big part of all of our family traditions, and she always will be.
I am very lucky to have my Mum around. She's 90, and I sort of have to be Mum to her nowadays, but she's still my Mum. And there's nothing like your Mother to bring out the little girl inside you. She says she still thinks of me as being a little girl, and annoyingly she still treats me like I'm about twelve. Pretty funny when I'm trying to sort out all of her tablets that keep her rattling around, and she's rousing on me for having my hair in my eyes. She's my link to my childhood, and every time I look at her, or talk to her, I get amazing reminders of multiple, random childhood events. She's such a strong influence on me still, and a rock of stability in my life. I'm definitely extremely blessed to have her to laugh with about our own little jokes, and to have her to vent to about all the complexities in my life. Because, baby she's been there and lived it, and she knows what my life is about. I treasure my time with her, and thank her for the sacrifices she made for me when I was growing up and the constant support she gives me now. I feel guilty that she still gives me so much, and the few things I can do for her just do not seem enough to repay her. I hope I can pay it forward, and do the same for my daughter. I've certainly had the best role model you could ask for.