Mum has never been much of a fan of Mothering Sunday. That isn’t to say that she didn’t enjoy the cards and the gifts which came her way. No, I think she thought it a bit artificial. To her, it was -no is – an occasion dreamt up as much to sell cards and flowers as to celebrate motherhood.
I took her a card last week. She laughed at the envelope and put it to one side. With gentle encouragement, she opened the card, stared again at the envelope, laughed and put it back in its place, face down on the table.
Briefly, my mind journeyed back more than 40 years, to a time when every year I was cajoled to make a Mothers’ Day card and a present at my junior school. These were inevitably a test – for me as the manufacturer and for Mum as she tried to work out what her loving son had made for her this time.
One year – I must have been about five or six – a schoolfriend Julie Brown told Mum what I was making for her. I was crushed. I tried to shout out to Julie’s mother to spoil her surprise too but Mum hushed me. Two wrongs never make a right – a lesson well learned. A year later Julie moved to Nottingham but our friendship was never quite the same after that incident.
Since you ask, I was making – and I use the word loosely – a container for string. It was fashioned from an old, empty plastic coffee tin and some unused and unloved pink flock wallpaper. The piece de resistance was a hole in the lid through which Mum could cunningly access the string. The wallpaper was badly trimmed and was attached to the tin at a jaunty angle. A thing of beauty it was not.
Mum kept that string holder until the day she moved out of her house more than 40 years later. On Mothering Sunday, I still think of that tin.