… a memory for Mother’s Day.
It would be so easy to cheat this year. So easy to repost my Mother’s Day blog from last year. The list of things that my funny, wonderful, utterly eccentric mum has done and will (I hope) continue to do.
But I won’t cheat. That post will stay nestled away in my archives waiting for a time where I am too tired or uninspired or homesick to write something new.
So let me tell you a story:
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”
I’m sick, lying curled up in bed in the small room at the front of the house.
It is my room, with Paddington Bear on the walls and Mr Men on the lamp shade and thick curtains to block out the sun.
In a few years, stuffed toys will give way to posters of impossible girls as my brother takes over, needing to escape the sisters that bookend him in our family tree.
In a few decades more, as we desert the nest, mum will create an office full of books and model cars and a whirring, over-used computer with a cluttered desktop.
But right now it is my room, and I am snuggled in the single bed that is far too big for me.
“You make me happy when skies are grey…”
One of the ‘nothers’ – the collective noun I give my siblings.
My mum’s hand pauses slightly at the noise, then carries on gently stroking the tangle of hair that has flopped on to my burning forehead.
I am staring at the picture that hangs on the wall, a view of fields through a window. It is the frame, really that I am gazing at. Thick wood, it seems big for such a small picture.
I can’t tell if it is my brother or my sister trying to break into the cocoon of comfort wrapped around me. It doesn’t matter.
The Little Grey Rabbit book we have just finished reading is on the chair next to my bed, next to my snowman who always stands guard over my sleep.
“You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.”
I have Poppy clutched to me with one arm, the white dots on her red dress swimming as I begin to drift.
My free hand is running along the soft green blanket with the family of ducks on it, untangling the green and white tassels, trying to separate the colours and then knotting them back together.
It is my sister’s blanket really, I am devastated when she takes it from me, because it ‘was hers first.’
In twenty years or so I will nearly cry when she returns it without a word just days before I fly away.
Mum shifts from where she is lying, facing me, wrapping me up in her softness.
The mattress lifts as she stands up and suddenly there is too much space in my bed and I’m breathing in the cold air of the room instead of her warmth.
I feel lost, rather than angry, now that her attention has been stolen away from me.
She walks softly to the door, dims the light until there is barely an orange glow illuminating the adventures of the bear from darkest Peru on my walls.
Click. The door closes.
The mattress squeaks in the new-found silence as she lies back down, a barrier between me and the world.
Peace at last.
“Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
(A quick aside, according to this article using the apostrophe after the ‘s’ is grammatically correct but not historically accurate. As a Classics student, history beats grammar, as a journalist, this is a decision for an editor so I copied the Guardian’s style guide.)
(This digression was mainly to head my dad off at the pass when he corrects my punctuation.)