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Readings: Mothers

Our mother was a buffoon, extravagent and romantic, and was never wholly taken seriously. Yet within her she nourished a delicacy of taste, a sensibility, a brightness of spirit, which though continuously blugeoned by the cruelties of her luck remianed uncrushed and unembittered to the end. Wherever she got it from, God knows - or how she managed to preserve it. But she loved this world and saw it fresh with hopes that never clouded. She was an artist, a light-giver and an original, and she never for a moment knew it...

With her love of finery, her unmade beds, her litters of unfinished scrapbooks, her taboos, superstitions and prudishness, her remarkable dignity, her pity for the persecuted, her awe of the gentry, and her detailed knowledge of the family trees of all the Royal houses of Europe, she was a disorganized mass of unreconciled denials, a servant girl born to silk. Yet, in spite of all this, she fed our oafish wits with steady, imperceptible shocks of beauty. Though she tortured our patience and exhaused our nerves, she was, all the time, building up around us, by the unconscious revelations of her loves, an interpretation of man and natural world so unpretentious that we never recognized it then, yet so true we never forgot it.

Nothing now that I ever see that has the edge of gold around it - the change of a season, a jewelled bird in a bush, the eyes of orchids, water in the evening, a thistle, a picture, a poem - but my pleasure plays some brief duty to her. She tried me at times to the top o my bent. But I absorbed from birth, as I now know, the whole earth through her jaunty spirit.

(Lee, L. (1978, first published 1959), Cider with Rosie, The Hogarth Press, 151-2.)


Mothering Sunday: 4th Sunday in Lent, three weeks before Easter.
Unimportant until American soldiers here in the 1940's revived it.
In some countries it is on a different Sunday to us.
Many years ago, children who left home and worked in large houses had this one day off to visit mothers. Took a little gift home.
Girls in the kitchen might make a simnel or other (describe) cake and take it home. Boys made gifts (wood, straw, etc. - suggest) too.
Going home children picked flowers and made posies for mothers.
They went to church but back to where they worked before dark.


My God, every single one is odd
I buy a pair, both matching shades
One disappears, or one just fades,
I buy some more, start fresh and clean
Scrutinise my washing machine
Put them in two by two
Guard them with my life for you
Dry them, air them, but come to pair them
I wish that I could promise you
There won»t be one instead of two.

('Socks' by Sheila Miller, of a Grimsby family, Pathos, Love, Comedy: A Book of Verse)


Through the pains of birth
'Til they see the light of day
Through their morning years
And when they've flown away
And you're worrying inside
And sometimes cannot hide the tears
Then the night becomes your friend
'Til another day begins
And you smile and play pretend

You want it all for them
But you cannot give it
You cannot teach them life
They must learn it as they live it

Living up to a mother's role
Can wear you down
'Til you feel old
So....when you put on your face today
And smile,
And when you say "I'm fine"
Don't worry
We will read between the lines.

('Mother' by Sheila Miller, of a Grimsby family, Pathos, Love, Comedy: A Book of Verse)