Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Madeleine, my mum

My mum is called Madeleine. I wish I was more like her.

Mum and the kids wearing the beanies she knat 

Tallulah, cousin Cecily (front), Harley, Jackson, Mum and Cy

Mum just left after staying a week with us. She arrived from Ohope Beach, NZ and within hours our lives in Oakland were a little more sorted.  She re-potted all my succulents, tidied our pantry, cleaned the tarnish off the aluminium bowls and scrubbed our cloth chairs clean. After that she undertook the most onerous task of all: helping eight-year-old Cy with his homework.

Mum re-potting my succulents in our backyard

She evinced a sigh of relief from everyone she talked to. Their lives had become a little more sorted too. Was it something she said? Maybe not - it's because she is that increasingly rare thing today -  a good listener. (Ever rarer here in the East Bay, the bumper sticker capital of the world, where many drivers feel the need to display every single opinion they've ever held.)

At my birthday party and throughout the week Mum could be seen in a corner quietly listening to someone; bending her knees, nodding her head, swaying back and forth as they talked about lives. "Oh yes, oh lovely."

She knows a lot about politics said a friend who talks a lot about politics. She knows how to have fun, said a friend as Mum happily watched them dancing. She's very wise, said another friend, though I didn't hear Mum give any advice.

I've long since given up comparing myself to her. "None of you got your mother's looks for a start" my uncle once said to me and my two sisters. (We just laughed, silly old fool) Mum won all the squash tournaments when we were growing up, she now wins all the golf tourneys. She bought up four children without the help of cleaners and babysitters and after-school programmes though she sewed for hours a day to pay for our ballet and tennis and holidays in a caravan. No motels or restaurants or kids clubs.

I can type better that her though. Her "code" emails are classic.

Table tennis tables: "Whereever wil you put it is it an outdors job perhaps it wil fit in THE SHED but what a great idea all the boys in the neibourhood will be around Im going to practice against the side wall just in case I get challenged Had the immediate neighbours around for drinks tonight Lots of laughs M"

What she did today: "Had a lovelyetime and home tomore drizzle Scored the pottle of olives from Linda as she had heaps ofother Garden dippg wet but so much color and Pohutus all out too Tell Pete that a parcel is here from Maine Lve M"

Despite her gentleness, she's never sentimental. On the phone last night I asked her the big questions: What have you learned from life? Oh, I don't know - have a go? she ventured. How have you stayed married for 52 years I asked? She laughs. "Well I suppose just stay there." She laughs again: "People says all sorts of things when they are asked that question and you know it's a damn lie. They say things like: I've been in love for 60 years, what a load of rubbish...What's the alternative is my philosophy."

Mum and Dad 53 years ago, Wellington, NZ

Nevertheless, I know that at the end of her plane and bus journey, Dad will be there to pick her up from the bus, probably an hour early, not wanting to be late.  Her face will light up when she sees him and they will greet each other first in a shy formal way, as if they just met 50-odd years ago. "Hello Madeline" he'll say, stepping in to hug her. "Hello Arthur" she'll say. Then he'll give a laugh, pat her on the bum and load her bag into the boot of their car.

Did you have a good time? Dad will ask as they drive away from the bus stop and they will chat all the way home. And all the way through the sunny afternoon in their sunny house beside the sea...






  

42 comments:

  1. I've become all emotional, Jody. What a wonderful post! xo
    Ada

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  2. Love this.
    She sounds like my Mom in that she's doing all those useful tasks around the house, even the homework part. It's so handy and inspiring.

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  3. What a beautiful post/ode to your mother.
    Whenever my Mum comes I feel as if I'm a bit more sorted out.
    There's a gentle calmness that comes with her visit.
    Your Mum sounds lovely.

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  4. this post brought a huge smile to my face and a lump in my throat! I want to hug your mum! xoxox E

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  5. What a lovely post...and such wise words...just like your mom.

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  6. Sounds like my Mom, too. Everything is easier when she is around. We are so lucky to have someone like this in our lives. Beautiful post!

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  7. Your mum sounds wonferfully wise... someone who has successfully sorted her sense of self.

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  8. Can you please start cloning your mum asaps???

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  9. This is a lovely post! My mum is here with me at the moment and in true style sorting us all out!! I always miss her when she goes, but look forward so much to the next visit:)
    ~Anne

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  10. I admire your mother.
    She is one of the rare wise garndmas.

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  11. This is really lovely...... I enjoyed every word. the image of your mother listening to others, her emails play golf--- and of course when she meets with your father again :)

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  12. Sounds like a classic strong Kiwi woman - like my own mother and grandmothers (and great-grandmothers!).

    Andrea x

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  13. Aw, tearing up. I was on the phone to my mum today. We haven't seen her since last summer and she usually comes to us in April, but family arrangements have changed things this year. She said more than a few times how much she misses me; not just the kids but me! Gulp. Anyway (she says, recovering nicely) I'm off to England in June for a month, so that'll be fab!

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  14. Love you mom!

    I don't have a mom any more. Can I borrow yours?

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  15. She sounds an amazing woman. How wonderful she was able to be there for your birthday party.

    A lovely post.

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  16. I wish I was like your mum too - especially on the patience front! And I hope the Shah and I are still as happy as your parents after 52 years together!

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  17. she looks very sweet :) thanks for sharing about her

    xx

    www.sickbytrend.com

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  18. Gulp. That really did have me welling up, especially the part at the end where your mum is welcomed back by your dad. I wish my mum still had Dad around; the two of them were perfect together.

    My mother must have been to the same typing school as yours ;-)

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  19. How beautiful!! My mom is coming to visit tomorrow and although she's not in another country she is 3,000 km away so it's a treat for all of us to have her. I'm not more excited than ever after your lovely post:) I hope your kids speak so kindly about you someday!!

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  20. "Knat" I love it!
    You sound a little homesick...

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  21. your mom sounds like a lovely person. it is rare these days to come into contact with a truly good listener. my mom has so many qualities that i personally do not possess, and i too have finally stopped comparing. i've come to the conclusion that it's the reason that she is my mom(!)... we compliment each other :) (although, in all honesty, it has caused both admiration, AND frustration!)

    LOVE her emails :).

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  22. Beautiful. I think your mum and my dad have quite a bit in common - particularly the ability to listen and speak few, but meaningful, words. Love this tribute to her and to your recent time together!!

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  23. This was so sweet! Your Mum sounds like a lovely lately. It's good that you have something over her with the typing, huh? Those were hilarious. :) xoxo

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  24. Jody, first off, you DO look like your mom, and what a handsome couple they were 25 years ago, I can only imagine how sweet they still are together. She sounds lovely, loved this post!

    xo Mary Jo

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  25. This is beautiful. Such a great picture of who your Mum is. What a great person to have as a role model. I love that photo of your parents...so classic!

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  26. Awww what a great post!!
    Your moms sounds as awesome as you are ;o)

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  27. just found your blog from a friends page and i LOVE it hun!
    your momma sounds like such a beautiful and kind hearted person! i love that. my mom is my best friend!
    anyway! newest follower! <3
    say hi back sometime?
    xoxo!

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  28. Your mom sounds amazing! Where would we be without our mothers, right? :)

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  29. Jody, This is so sweet and you are so fortunate to have a remarkable Mom :) We can all learn from her .. become better listener and finding goodness in all that we say and do. Your Mom has a great attitude regarding marriage and one that I personally agree 100% with (we will be celebrating our 30th in July). People want instant gratification, lack a strong work ethic, and through in the towel way to easy. Also loved her "code" email :)

    Enjoy your weekend coming up and thanks for always stopping by to say hello.

    Leslie

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  30. Hey, a Happy Belated Birthday and you looked stunning. I think your uncle had tunnel vision: look at all that beauty going on and through to the children too. That was a great observation from your mum about love and marriage. Maybe we ought to be prepared for the comfort and companionship of a spouse in our old age rather than 'Love.' Anyway it must have been very special having your mum over to visit. PS Glad you like my new wallpaper :-)

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  31. don't you just love old timey pictures?? everyone looked so polished and ladylike back then!! and the beanie your mom made are amazing, what a cute treasure!

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  32. You look exactly like yr Mum in the b/w picture!

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  33. Wonderful post, an ode to Mums all over the world! I read it with a smile and now I am going to call my Mum!!

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  34. That's one of my favourite names and oh my mum isn't at all sentimental either, I laughed because that's how she'd answer those questions too!

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  35. Beautiful post, Jody!! You have an amazing family!! You are so lucky!

    xoxoxo

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  36. Awww...you have such a beautiful family, Jody! And I love the retro picture of your mom and dad - gorgeous! :)

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  37. Thank you for sweet words on my blog:) Always nice to inpspire someone. I hope you have a great weekend and come back to visit again:)

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis

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  38. Such a gorgeous heartfelt post. How lucky you both are to have each other.

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  39. I wish I was more like my mama too...She manages to have a career AND she has amazing domestic prowess! Le sigh.

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  40. Oh this is such a sweet post!! You mom sounds amazing and she has such an awesome smile. How blessed you are!!

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