Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day to all. If you still have a mother living to appreciate you are so lucky. My mother has been dead many years. She died at age 61, far too young in our day and age.
I have a friend in his late 70's who said casually one day. "I have to go to Mississauga on the weekend to see my mother" "YOUR MOTHER!" was my reaction. How lucky you are to still have your mother."
While my mother is no longer a physical presence in my life her influence lingers on. On looking back she certainly was the one person who has had the most influence on my life. When I became a "college graduate" I used to tease her calling her an IBCM, (no not the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missle we worried about back then) an Intimate Close Binding Mother. I had read that such mother's produced sons who were either homosexuals or clergyman. To my and her surprise she got the latter. I don't know if she really deserved to be labelled an ICBM but she was very affectionate, devoted to being a mother to the three of us. Later she felt she had to wait far too long to be the grandmother. I am glad she did get to enjoy this role for a few years before she died. When I see my grandchildren I think how much she would have enjoyed them and they, her.
Here are some lingering lessons my mother taught me for good or ill.
Education is the road to salvation. You should get as much education as you can and then do what you want. For her education was a step up the social ladder from working class to upper middle class. My generation all went to college and most of us got advanced degrees. We did good Mom!
Reading is a great source of pleasure. My mother was a voracious reader. She read books in bunches. They were often 800 or 900 pages long. She was a big user of the library and always brought home 6 to 8 books at a time and then read them. When finished, in a flurry she cleaned the house and then off to the library again.
Many evenings she would read to me wanting to share parts of books she had read often going back to read me long passages she had past. She read to me several books in total. I remember her reading all of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn at least twice. This was my earliest introduction to American culture.
My mother was always an excellent reader. As a child all the other children used to like sitting near here at the movies for she could read outloud the subtexts on the silent movies.
I was not a very fluent reader suffering from eye control along the lines of print but my mother's example kept me knowing it was important. When I went to seminary I taught myself to read aloud and read from a script, by hours of practice until I mastered reading with expression and comprehension in public.
You must always respect a woman. This was always in the form of a confusing dictum, "You must always treat a girl the way you would treat your sister." Lucky I was fond of my sister with qualities to admire although a little too "first born" in her behaviour for me.
You must never ever, under any circumstance, hit a woman. I am not sure why my mother felt so strongly about this because my father never hit her and she never said she had ever been hit as a child. It was an often repeated dictum. Well, I never have hit a woman, Mom. In fact, I have never felt it necessary to spank a child. The last chum I hit was when I was 13 and I dropped him with one punch for making a social call on my girlfriend behind my back. I learned such violence makes you look and feel like a fool.
I often wonder why men who hit women did not have a mother like mine. I will never understand men who hit. How inadequate they must feel. I also find it hard to be sympathetic to women who let men hit them. (Even after hearing all the reasons they stay) I just knew any woman I was involved with wouldn't even let a man get away with a free punch (like a dog gets one free bite). i woudn't have any respect for her if she did.
One should always speak the best English possible. Swearing was never a part of our life. Damn! was the worst we could say and that might generate a frown of disapproval. Our English was corrected in spelling and grammer and we always were encourage to speak respectfully with "Please" and "Thank You." The Queen's English and the Oxford Dictionary were the standard.
I still don't swear much. I still say Damn. I once heard an elderly nighbour admonishing a new neighbour, "I don't know why you don't like Mr. Robinson. . . .He doesn't even swear!"
One should always be respectful of others. I remember when I was 12 calling a new kid in the neighbourhood a "Homo". "Do you know what that means?" mother questioned me. The fact was Ididn't I just new it was a word of disrespect. I was admonished to never say that.
While I grew up in a WASP ghetto where the only integration was my mother having a close Catholic friend, I always was never ready to accept prejudicial judgement of others even though I had no direct experience to inform my view. As an adult I learned my instincts were correct. My mother was open and accepting of everyone so I guess I subtlely learned this from her.
Oh, my best friend was an American from Montana, How exotic is that.! He still is my oldest friend, although we are very different. In spite of living here all his life he and his family are still very American and I am very Canadian.
Emotions are OK. My mother was a very emotional woman. Not in the hysterical sense but in the touchy feelly way. She loved to be hugged and kissed. She seemed to need to be reassured she was loved. Perhaps, my father who was a bit of an emotional cripple due to a poor childhood, was not capable of giving her enough of this. It turned out I was. To kiss my mother unexpecxtedly on the back of the neck always got a gushing response. "Oh, Philip, you have made my day.!" I learned early to manipulate her and get what I want this way. When I wanted something from my father, whose first instinctive response was "NO". I learned I could get him to relent through my mother.
One should be thrifty. My mother and father were products of the Great Depression. They new life was about working hard and being thrifty with what you have. One should live within one's means and find satisfaction in the life you have. They never talked about money in ways that would make us feel poor. Things must have been tight at times for I remember my father filling my "underground fort" with sewage from the septic tank he cleaned out with a pail in the dark of night.
We lived a modest life in a modest house. We never felt like we did without important things. My mother always saw that we got a good assortment of things at Christmas even if money was tight. We never lead the neighbourhood in acquiring things. We did not have a car until 1952 in spite of living in the country. I think we were the last to get a refrigerator, a TV, a stereo and an oil furnace, not to mention all those kitchen electrical appliances. To my shame, I remember being embarassed as a child that our house was not as grand as most of my friend's homes.
Be kind to animals. We always had a cat we cared about. We had two identical cats in a row, named Tiny, so it seem like was always had the same cat. We also occasionally had a dog. Owning guns or hunting was never part of our life. I got to shoot and kill things at my American friend's house, (mentioned above). I never told my mother but I am ashamed of doing this to this day.
Honesty is of paramount importance. One must always tell the truth. I was always believed. I learned to save my veracity for the big lie! After my wife left my mother asked me. "Where you a good boy, Philip." (It is OK to laugh, I laughed) "Oh, Mother. of course I was."
I will make this the end. If I think of more I will edit them in.
As Mothers go, I had a good one whose continuing presence in my life is a gift. an onging act of Grace.