Long-ago in the thirties, children were brought up differently from today. On Mother’s Day we wore a red carnation if our mother was alive and a white carnation if she was dead. My sisters and I looked around in church to see who wore white and tried to imagine the dread of being in their shoes.
- We go to flowers for consolation or celebration. They always seem to know what emotions are in each person’s heart. Human beings aren’t so good at identifying with other’s feelings.
- As an adult, I sent my mother flowers each Mother’s Day because I knew she loved to get them. For as long as they linger they bring happiness and you can preserve their beauty in photos.
- My tangled relationship with my mother motivated me to start writing at age 69. At a very early age, my ego got hurt by the way she introduced me when we had company, and so I stopped letting her give me hugs. Instead, whenever she tried I just pushed her away without a word. She had no idea what, if anything, was wrong. Victorian reticence ruled mothers in those days and psychologists had not yet been invented (Who needed them? We had English literature instead.)
- Mother thought my personality made me behave as I did but, nevertheless, she tried to improve the situation. She noticed that I liked to play with hair and that suited her because any kind of brushing and fiddling with her head soothed her migraine headaches. So, instead of an afternoon nap, she would relax with head back and eyes shut in the chesterfield chair (an old-fashioned couch set) while I went to work with an arsenal of combs, brushes, bobby pins, clips, rubber bands, barrettes, ribbons and rags.
- During these spells we touched each other, at least, and she didn’t have to deal with an obstreperous child. I was in command and usefully occupied. I hated her grey, short, straight hair anchored with a big metal bobby pin. I wished I could turn her into a beauty, with long red hair and permanent waves, like the mothers in knitting magazines.
- Flash forward to Spring, 2015. A comment from a new reader of the family memoir I wrote arrived from out of the blue on the “About” page on this blog. The comment says, “Memories are a nursery where children who are growing old play with their broken toys.” It really thrilled me — past the thrill that penetrates an author at any sign of attention. It made me understand what I had done, especially if you substitute ‘Memoirs’ for ‘Memories’ and look at ‘broken toys’ as a metaphor for the hairdressing game as therapy.
- When I reached middle-age, I felt an urgency to make peace with my mother and get at the roots of what still made me cry in church. A dramatic moment which I record in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void finally happened when I was 47 and she was 80.
- My new reader John W. Bienko went on to say, “Kells is an extraordinary book, presenting the extraordinary story of extraordinary people living in extraordinary times.”
I’m proud of my book for having earned this compliment all on its own and I thank Mr. Bienko for sending the message.
Thank you for dropping in. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Author’s tips are offered by word and writing advice by example.
Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics! http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany www.margaretvirany.com