REMEMBERING WHEN … by Cynthia Smith

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.”