DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

I trust all my family and friends who are mothers will have a lovely day which assures them they are loved and cherished.

I had a wonderful mother, who, thinking back, was the most important person in my life,  whose memory and the lessons she taught me continue to inform my life today.  My mother died when she was 61 so she had been physically gone for a long time.  I am not one to say I miss her for to miss someone is to feel there is unfinished business between you. Since the day she died, I never felt this was the case. She is very real to me still. I think of  her often and in many way the only difference is that I cannot pick up the phone a speak with her.  I do have regrets when we have family occasions like births, weddings, honours won, etc, knowing how much she would have enjoyed those occasions.

I have so much respect for mothers and the role mothers play in peoples lives that I have often over the years asked to be honoured on mother's day. No one takes me seriously.  I have been the one who mothered our son for most of his life. His mother for reasons of her own decided she did not want to be a wife and mother and left  to find fulfillment in another kind of life.  So I took over the daily obligations of raising and mothering our son.  Over the years, his mother worked out a different kind of relationship which eventually grew into a close relationship when our son became an adult, which I am glad about. 

The lessons I learned from my mother I passed on to our son, I am sure.  He turned out to be good and responsible person and a great parent in his own right. One could not have asked for more satisfaction in being a parent. I was a successful "mother" in my mind.  Father's Day has little of the meaning to me as Mother's Day does.

This is a favourite picture of my mother. Here she is with her three children, Penny, me (standing) and Richard.  I always try to remember that my mother  had four children. Her first died as a SIDS baby. She spoke little about this and it is one of the things, as a adult, I would have liked to have known more about.

This photo is at the end of our drive way at the house I grew up in in Toronto Township (now part of the city of Mississauga).  It is a wooded area. It still is although the large trees are even larger today.  This humble working class neighbourhood is a prosperous professional class enclave, one of the most sought after places to live in the city. My friend, Lynne, still lives in this old neighbourhood. It was a great place to grow up and be a family. It was a great place to grow up.

This is my grandmother, Lavina Beeston, (how British is that name). This is about how I remember her for she died when I was 13.  I can still remember the day she died. We woke up that day with our parents gone. It was bewildering until the we got a phone call from my mother the Grandma had died overnight. This is the only time, as a child, that my mother was not where I knew she would be.

I like to refer to my Grandmother as the little old Methodist lady.  She had been raised a Methodist and was very kind, gentle and thoughtful. She also had taken the pledge at 18 and never drank all her life. This may be part of the reason I do not drink . . . .much.  My best memories of her is that she always had some little gift of candy in her purse when she visited. I also remember how her hankies smelled of perfume.  I need to remind myself that she was not always a little old lady. She was made the teacher in her school when she was 16. In those days, if you were the best student you became  the teacher. She and my grandfather were adventurous enough to come to Canada from England, leaving three of their children behind, until they got established in Canada. My mother was born in Canada and here youngest sister was also. My Grandmother had five children, four girls and one boy. She was a full time mother raising her children in a semidetached house with a family of Scottish immigrants with five boys and one girl living in the other half. My mother told me a little about her growing up. She had a wonderful relationship with her father. She protected his memory. It took a cousin to tell me about the family scandal. (Enough said)

This is another photo I have transferred from a slide.  I am still trying to improve the colours , which have faded.  

My mother, always playful was modelling her baby doll pajamas.  I am not sure what my father was thinking. He did not express himself very well emotionally.  He had had a difficult up bringing, which left him wounded emotionally. I largely communicated with him on important issues through my mother. While my mother told me daily she loved me and insisted I tell her I loved her at every opportunity I have no recollection of my father ever telling me he loved me. Whenever I made an achievement my mother was to one to tell me my father was very proud of me. Earlier he would have belittled my achievement to me directly by asking why I did not do better. The only family story I remember that suggest my father was emotional about me is that when I got polio he said, "My little son many not be able to play sports!" My mother told me this.

My mother had a creative streak in her personality.  She sewed and knit a lot of our cloths. She enriched her life by being a great reader. There was always  more than one book on the go. When she died I think there were about 8 substantial books on her bed table.  She was a great user of the library, as we did not own a lot of books. 

At one point my parents became founding member of the Credit Valley Dramatic Society. They began as a small group meeting in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. At first, the put on small plays for the amusement of the group and then put on one act plays for public performances.  I remember my sister and I taking part in a  Thornton Wilder play with my mother and father, The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, .. Eventually, they put on full productions of three act plays for the public, twice a year. These were rich times for my mother. She starred in some plays, like Arsenic and Old Lace, and if not in the play she worked behind the scenes often as the promoter. My father, an electrician by trade, always did the lighting.

 At one time the society became so sophisticated a member, Howard Lacey, a classics teacher at Upper Canada College, wrote a musical play called, "Mister Move Your Mattress" based on the Greek drama, Lysistrata. I think my sister still has the record of songs. You could hear my mother in the chorus with her deep voice.  She was game for anything. Sadly, my mother gave this up when she came to feel she was not as sophisticated as others in the group. The last straw was when a member came in and wrote a joke on the blackboard in ancient Greek, and most of the group, except my mother understood it and laughed.

My sister and I got married the same summer and my brother went off to college in the US so my mother found herself  suddenly with an empty nest. To fill her life she tried to go to University  but was overwhelmed by it when she felt she should read every book on every reading list she was given. Still not being made a grandmother she found fulfilment taking a nursing course, where she graduated the top of her class. 
She came to work in the mental health ward of the hospital. She loved it. We good with people and accepted all kinds of people. More than once she said she loved it there because everyone was like her.
For a long time, I never understood how many people knew my mother and would say hello at the Mall or on the street. When I asked who they were she would just say, "someone from work. I finally came to understand they were former patients and she took her vow to protect their privacy seriously.

My mother when she died was still employed at the hospital. It must have taken all her energy to get to work and put is a full day. She never spoke of quitting.  In retrospect, she was very frail. She died two days after getting her required flu shot.  I will always remember my father calling out to me. "Your mother is dead." His voice had a quality I had never heard before. I went and checked and then called the police and my brother and sister.  In  a way, this was a life altering day for us all. I felt bad for my father. I thought he would have trouble living without my mother. That day I was offered a job as minister of a church in Halifax, I decided to turn it down so I could be with my father as his life changed. As it turned out this changed the direction of my life for I never had a full time clergy position after this as I moved in other directions.

This is my mother and I  when we lived in Long Branch on the west side of Toronto before we moved to the Port Credit area.. I wish I could remember why she was dressed up. We were about to go somewhere after she put my shoes on. Perhaps, we were going to meet my father on leave from the military. This was about the time she got pregnant with my brother, the child that was to get him out of the military. The story goes they changed their mind about this but it was too late, so I was to get a younger brother.

So much for my ramblings about my mother and others. There are lots of family recollections that would shed life on how my mother influenced me. She certainly was always there when I needed her through small and large crises.

Now in my senior years, I wish I had someone to help me put on my shoes. My hip and leg is so sore I have trouble putting on my shoes and clipping my toe nails. Lynne, bless her heart, will do this for me when I am there. She is in spirit an eternal mother, close to her three children and three grandchildren. I have never been able to be as involved in my son's family life for reasons I do not fully understand.   I guess he has yet to realize that the father that mothered him for so many years is in some need of mothering himself.  Even a appreciative word on Mother's Day would be nice.


At 2:47 p.m., Blogger Sissy said...

Such a delightful beautiful post, Philip. I love it when you write this way - personal accounts. Give me some more; by the way, a belated Happy Mother's Day to you. Yes, our mothers are the most important influence in our life; you did a fine job with your son, I'm certain. Knowing you for some time now (in this faraway manner) I feel you are a great influence to many; even me.

At 11:35 a.m., Blogger Navigator said...

I am sorry you did not have a closer relationship with your father. He was a good man. He was dedicated to his family. He was good to me when I lived with your parents for a year (as was your mother, of course).

I did not have a close relationship with my father for similar reasons. He also had a childhood background that left him with difficulty expressing emotion, other than anger, for his children. I too found myself working through my mother to get to my father.

But I will share with you something about your father. He thought the world of you. You were his favourite child. He considered you to be a shining beacon and expected you to go very far in life -- to exceed the boundaries of your siblings. It is too bad what he conveyed to me he could not convey to you.

I wasn't there at the time, of course, and I may be writing nonsense here, but there is a school of thought that you can encourage a child to do even better if you asked him why he settles for something less. The basis for this is the belief that a child does not want to disappoint his/her parents. What you took for disparaging your achievements I suspect was your father's attempt at encouraging you to achieve more since he clearly believed you were capable of much more.

At 9:55 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

This is a poignant post, Philip, especially the end. Sometimes life is hard to figure out. People do their best in their own way.

At 10:07 a.m., Blogger Owen Gray said...

It's difficult to deal with the limitations of old age, Philip.

We visited my mother in Montreal on Mother's Day. She's almost 90 and suffers from dementia. It's not easy to watch someone disappear.

At 12:03 a.m., Blogger Ien in the Kootenays said...

Lovely memories, and I honour and salute you as a mother!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home