I thought long and hard to find what is special to me. There were lots of possibilities before my eyes as I scanned my room seeking that something special – something that stood out above the rest. When I spotted Mum’s philosophy books my search was over. She sometimes read them to us at bedtime. As children we knew they were special because of the way she handled them – as though they held something close to her heart. She didn’t say so; we could just tell.
Seeing Mum of an evening was a treat in itself. She worked, mostly doing afternoon shift, as a Nurse at the local hospital. She trained during WW II however she met my Dad, a dashing young man in uniform, and they married five months later. That’s how it was in War time – or so I am told. Mum couldn’t complete her training after the wedding as married women couldn’t stay in training as nurses. She must have been very much in love to make that sacrifice. She loved her work, that was easy to see, so she worked as a Nurse’s Aid until she retired in her sixties.
We lived in our small wooden house in Channel Street – Mum, Dad and five kids – 3 girls in one bedroom (bunks and a single bed) and 2 boys in the sleep out. We had a wooden stove in the kitchen and a wooden fire-place in lounge. Even so, I remember it being really cold. When I got out of bed in the morning I shuddered as my feet touched the icy cold lino floor. There were no mats in the house.We would put our school shoes in the oven to warm them up before going to school. It was fairly stark, but honest and clean (Mum was a bit obsessed with CLEAN!). We had a chip heater in the bathroom that made frightening noises – bath time was as short as possible!
Being the youngest of 5 children, I remember getting caught up in whatever was happening at the moment. My brothers believed their main role was to instil fear into me. They did this by going outside my window at night and pretending they were burglars or wild animals. I was a very timid and fearful little girl.
Mum worked full-time from when I was 18 months old and Dad worked long hours – cutting wood in the forest. There were lots of times we were on our own. Saturday nights were special though – it was when we all shared in the luxury of a big blog of chocolate.
Mum and Dad have both passed away now. It wasn’t until some time afterwards; it is a bit of blur now, but I came across the philosophy books. My sisters and I remember Mum reading snippets to us. We were not allowed to hold the book. It was special and Mum kept them in her bedroom. It was magic when she got them out.
Mum and Dad are dead and gone – I now have the books in my book-case and I have also developed a love of thought-provoking reading about the human condition.
What puzzled us girls is why Mum would read one particular story to us called “Tiss Me Goodnight” about a naughty child being punished by not getting a kiss goodnight. It is a really sad little story as the mother doesn’t relent and the child dies during the night”. Not exactly bedtime reading for us young girls. It instilled in me the importance of not denying my love and affection to others as one never knows what the next hours or days may have in store.
But, my Mum was mysterious to me. I wish I had got to know her better but perhaps there is always a side of our parents that we never know will know about.
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