It's Mother's Day tomorrow...the one day in the year when girls were given the time off from scrubbing floors and washing the families linen to go home to visit their mothers...
When my Mother was still alive I'd be in a cold sweat by now wondering whether her card had arrived on time...too early was quite as awful as too late...so trying to judge whether two days beforehand was classed as premature could be enough to give me palpitations...
It would have been perfectly pointless sending her flowers...they'd have been wrong in every way. Not enough, or too many, or simply the wrong sort of flowers altogether...her favourite perfume was out of the question as well because it was too expensive for me to be able to afford to buy it...fancy chocolates worked sometimes...but I eventually gave up with a gift and just sent a card.
I showered Mum with a big display of delivered flowers via Interflora and a card and chocolates...she'd write a little note to say how beautiful the flowers were and there was enough for two vases and she'd shared the chocolates with the Curate while they played cards one evening...the local Curate used to lodge with Mum. And her friend Doris, who had a little pet shop, had admired the flowers and said how wonderful to have them delivered right to the door and she'd given Doris one of the pink roses and hoped I didn't mind but Doris was a poor old thing without a daughter of her own...
After father had died and my brother and I were looking for personal stuff to keep...under the eagle eye of Step-mother...we didn't find a single memento of either of us...none of the cards we'd ever sent...none of our weddings either until John found the photograph album...Mother had cut out my first husband and John's first wife and then replaced the photos...John had won many silver cups...he was the coxswain of a local rowing club...there was not a sign of them. It was almost as though we'd both been erased from our parents memories.
In contrast, when Mum's house was in the process of being sorted out before sale, I found every letter I'd ever written to her carefully stored away in a box in her bedroom...every single photograph I'd ever sent...the bows and ribbons which had decorated the presents for her birthdays and Christmas...a list of all my children's birthdays as well...she never forgot any of them even though it was only my first son who was her actual grandchild...she'd kept me and mine...not discarded us.
Mother's lies were not so dramatic as Max's Fathers lies...but they were both similar in many ways...attention seeking certainly...being dramatic when plain ordinary would have been just grand...actually plain ordinary would have been perfect. But ordinary wasn't enough for Mother or for Max's Father...they had to make themselves stand out from the crowd in the most unpleasant of ways...
Mother was abusive. She would think nothing of slapping my face until I had a raging headache and I'd cried so much my eyes were too swollen to open properly...and of course Father was complicit...he didn't stop her...didn't attempt to reason with her...he allowed it. Father was unknown to me really...I never knew who he was...what he thought about or believed in...we never once heard stories of his childhood or knew his friends...it wasn't until his funeral when elderly men turned up wearing medals...one was wearing the V.C...and they all sat together at the back, that we realised these people were Fathers friends...stiff and formal they were...and they didn't come back to the house, but went for a drink in a local hotel instead. Dry handshakes all round and a faint scent of expensive whiskey, then they were away in dark shiny cars...
Sometimes...if I allow it to...my strange childhood with remote and unloving parents can eat away at me and nibble at my confidence...the trick is not to allow that to happen.