Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mothers and daughters

My mother is a fastidious, ever-busy little body, neatly suited and booted with hair like the Queen. She smells of Chanel No 5 and floral perfumes that carry jasmine notes. Not yesterday though. When I arrived, her hair was spread across the pillow in an iron-grey frizz and she was lying still and sad. Loudly, I said: "Mum, mum, it's me" and I placed my hand against her cheek as I do with my own children and I bent to kiss her. "Is it you?" she grasped my wrist and pulled me closer into her and hung from me like an eight-year-old daughter would and cried into my neck, sobbing at the latest pain to strike. Sickness is a heartless robber, preying on the old. It carries a rubber cosh and a cold barrelled gun that it holds smack against an old lady's wrinkles while it shouts into her face: "I want your dignity, right now. Hand it over, you old bat." The Daily Mail should run a campaign.

She told me the nurse was going to give her an anemone. I thought this unlikely. The bustling Scottish nurse arrived, not with flowers but with rubber gloves. Mother mine, teeth biting into the cotton pillow and tears falling onto my hand shrieked in silence as the nurse got on with it. Old age smells of shit and shame not Chanel. Do not go there. Find another route into the hereafter. Old age is not the way to go. People are not nice to you. They do not bring you flowers. Instead they carry rubber gloves and make you cry and bite the pillow.

My mother is the best reason I know for living a life of decadence and debauchery. No cigarillo smoke, gin slings or mistakes between the sheets. Instead, a life of heroic virtue, good deeds and care - her own aged and bone-tiny mother, an early husband who coughed blood and died, arthritic sister, small pupil-children taught to bake, cancer patients, the list drones on, and me, ofcourse. The parish council, the school governing body, the catholic educational board. Her reward for all that goodness? An invitation to a garden party - too sick to attend, sorry - and an old age of broken health. Well poo and phooey! Her goodness did not keep her well. She still got old and sick and I will learn by her mistakes. I will inhale smoke from pink cigarettes, drink absinthe and have unrepentant sex with strangers in dark places. I will buy my sons a kitten, call it "Trixabelle" and torture it.


Meredith Jones said...

Poor kitten! Take her on a trip to the forest, instead. Yes, old age is a shit, but the alternatives are no better. Early death by something awful, accidents, suicide... perhaps the best thing is to pretend we're immortal.

Ricey said...

I can't help but think you are describing what will befall my mother, the first fall has occured (actually I think the 2nd, but she won't tell me!). I'm sure the future path will be equally degrading & wholly unjust.

Equally clad in Chanel No.5, she has partaken on the occasional Cuba Libra, more latterly she has discovered the virtues of Strawberry Daiquiris & Lime Margaritas! Sadly the joy of Sobranie has always been her vice.

I can only say that I try on a daily basis to bring some kindness to her world, it may be as simple as taking her a cup of tea in bed when I hear her first stir or a altogether more grand gesture when she can physically face a day out.

Some people say life isn't a rehearsal, I agree, we only get one Mum.

I never did like kittens!

Trixy said...

Poor kitten indeed!

You can't bless it with such a name and then torture it...I'm feeling the pain personally

Mind you, 'Instead they carry rubber gloves and make you cry and bite the pillow.' rings a bell. Am glad I finished with that boyfriend before it went too far...


Ricey said...

trixy, is that you?

wife in the north said...

re ricey: a daily kindness. I like that idea.

Trixy said...

It is me! Alas, I am not a kitten.

oobs said...

I know I'm late reading this, I just got the link to your blog yesterday and I'm working my way up.

My mother is still young (late 40s) but as I get older, I begin to realise that she does too.

It's truly the most horrible realisation and I admit I'm struggling to deal with fact I write this with tears in my eyes.

But it's teaching me to make the most of my wonderful mum and remind her to look after herself for a change and I agree with Ricey a daily kindness is the least we can do :)