REMEMBERING WHEN … by Cynthia Smith
Mine was a very loving mother and I wish I had many more happy memories of her than I do. But, sadly, she was not always ‘my Mum’. Through no fault of her own, she was often that ‘other’ mother.
My earliest recollection, when I was probably no more than two years old, was squealing with delight as Mum puffed out her cheeks for me to ‘pop’ with my little hands, when she would blow a raspberry. She would only stop when I was in danger of being sick from laughing so much. I wish I could have stayed in that happy childhood bubble for ever.
My father was often bad-tempered. Mum told me it was because of the pain caused by his stomach ulcer, whatever that was. But he, too, was a very loving parent. He was fond of children and often good fun when my friends came round.
When we were quite small he liked to play ‘Peter and Paul’ with us. He would stick a little piece of white paper on the top of two of his fingers and recite:
“Two little dickie birds, sitting on a wall,
“One named Peter, one named Paul.”
Here he would wiggle the fingers representing the birds.
“Fly away Peter, fly away Paul …”
Here the two ‘birds’ would disappear over Dad’s shoulder and his fingers return without the birds.
“Come back Peter, come back Paul.”
Miraculously, as it seemed to us, the birds re-appeared on Dad’s fingers. There were delighted ‘oohs’ from us and no matter how many times he did it Dad seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. The birds ‘flew’ so fast that we small children could not see the sleight of hand.
One day our enthusiasm encouraged Dad to show us a new ‘trick’. He said he was going to take all his teeth out! Having seen dentistry in cartoons on the television, with the agony of just one tooth being removed, we were aghast at the thought of this. We knew nothing of false teeth, so there were gasps of horror as Dad removed first his lower and then his upper denture. With a theatrical flourish, he put them back, no doubt pleased with our stunned reaction.
Some people, however, are never satisfied. Tom from next door piped up:
“Now take your head off.”
I remember the seaside trips on train
I wish I could capture that feeling again
I played on the sand and paddled in the sea
I rode on the donkeys and laughed with glee
I drank cool fizzy pop and had chips for a snack
On the train home I slept ail the way back
I remember those endless long sunny days
All my friends tussled in a general melee
We all played soldiers inside a nearby wood
Some played the bad guys the others played the good
We made wooden rifles all painted in black
All of these memories are now flooding back
I remember the bike rides in the clean country air
Mile after mile our destination anywhere
Around every corner was a place we could play
Cycling along till the end of the day
Then the weary ride home if s time for returning
For those short years of childhood I find myself yearning
I remember camping at night, near a bridge and a ford
Looking up to a dark starry night our fitting reward
We invented a villain filled with evil intent
Ours was the axeman who crept into your tent
Eating cold beans straight from the can
Soon we would pass from childhood to man
However Many Ways? By Ruth Nunn
Love? Truly love you? Do I love you?
Of course, of course! Yes of course I do!
How can you face me brazenly so?
Shameless you stare, and you tell me “No!”
“I do,” my heart within me implores,
My very essence in silence roars,
“Undoubtedly so!” my core insists,
And without one word, in anguish lists
A silent, painful, record of times
I’ve excused your childish, thoughtless crimes,
Or held you safely within my arms
Both from mortal and emotional harms.
How many times have I born your rants?
And how many times cleaned dirty pants?
Or how many times prepared your lunch,
Then sat there to sweet-talk, “Just one munch”?
When have I pleaded, “School soon. Hurry!”
And worked myself up to a flurry?
Or when repented to teachers who
Don’t understand the loss of your shoe?
Many a time in the depths of night,
I’ve snuggled amongst my blankets tight,
Abruptly woke to your frightened scream.
“Mum, there’s a noise!”, “a spider” or “dream”.
Tired still, I’ve lifted my head,
And swung weary legs round out of bed.
I’ve run to your room, exhausted, worn,
Allaying fears well into the morn.
Shopping, once, on a regular trip,
I carried you round, sat on my hip,
Only one hand to push the trolley,
Juggle with tins, nappies and brolly
Then “Mum,” you told me, “I’m feeling ill.”
Nauseous groans as your gob did fill
And repugnant puke whelched in a tide
All of the way down my left hand side.
“A story Mum,” you’ve so often pled.
How many books have I bought and read?
How many times have I funded your play?
How many cakes have I made for your day?
Yet still you claim that I love you not.
“My friends,” you tell me, “have such a lot.”
“I want what they’ve got,” I hear you cry.
“Why can’t I have it? I want it. Why?”
I listen, allay my inner pain
When I’m sure you’ll need me soon again,
When your knee bleeds, or you simply tire,
Arms held towards me once more require
Caring hugs from this loving mother,
My cuddles, comforts, like no other.
You’ll look towards me, wordlessly say,
“Thanks” in that simple, juvenile way.