Memories on Mother’s Day

Nan, mum and my uncle

I’m writing this from a café in Dublin. I’m here to DJ at Fair City Blues, one of my favourite weekend blues music and dance events.

I didn’t realise I was going to be away for Mother’s Day. I don’t think my family mind too much. I know I’ll find a card and some flowers to welcome me home tomorrow.

As a child I remember making cards with flowers made out of tissue. Sometimes we even made bunches of flowers with pipe cleaner stems. We would always visit my grandmothers on Mothering Sunday, as they both lived nearby.

Today I’m sitting in this café thinking about the mother figures I’ve had in my life, and reflect on how they influenced me.

Nan

My nan was my mum’s mum. I remember her as a kind and quiet countrywoman. She loved nature; gardening and harvesting from the hedgerow.

When she was home her TV was always on, and she would sit crocheting while watching the wrestling or laughing at The Two Ronnies.

It was my nan who made sure that I could knit, and took me to the village bingo, jumble sales and pantomimes. She rode a bike until just a few years before she died.

The main thing I learned from my nan was the value of a community and to find enjoyment in simple daily things. She also gave me my sewing machine.

Grandma

My grandma was my dad’s mum. She did everything quickly and with the minimum of fuss.

She was actually the queen of streamlining things so she could make time for her hobbies: oil painting and playing golf. She would batch make soups and stews to save time and money.

She always made tea in the pot, and never switched to tea bags. A cup of tea was always in a china cup, served on a tray with the biscuit tin.

The main thing I learned from my grandma was to make time for myself and to nurture my creativity. She also gave me a deep respect for a good cup of tea.

Mum

On holiday in Yugoslavia

My mum was always different to other mums. She was a lifelong music lover and sun worshipper. She had the radio on from the moment she woke up, and she used to love Top of the Pops. She wore cut off shorts and flip flops like some sort of uniform for what feels like most of my child-hood.

Mum loved a bargain and made coupon clipping and special offers a fine art. She loved foraging and knew the best places to collect wild blackberries.

All year round there were fresh flowers in the house, often gathered from the garden or in the wild. I remember going bluebell picking during May and taking armfuls of them home.

She was a fantastic cook and every meal felt like a small occasion. She took special pride in her pastry. Her apple pies were her signature pudding, and for years she even made her own mince pies at Christmas.

The main thing I Iearned from my mum was to make a warm, welcoming home and not to worry too much about convention.

Taking some time to reflect on these women over a cup of tea today has made me realise how they’ve influenced me in small but important ways and how much I miss them.

I wonder how my children, or maybe my grand-children will remember me.

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