It was Mothering Sunday in the UK yesterday and I had a wonderful day. Having accidentally dropped a hint on ‘What’s App,’ my three children who live abroad remembered to send me cards, flowers, text messages and most importantly, their love. I am very fortunate though to have my youngest daughter and my adorable grandson living very near me. They came round for lunch bearing flowers and a beautiful gift that little Stanley had personalized. It is a ceramic train that he painted red and it has his little finger prints all over it ~ I will treasure it always.
As usual Mothering Sunday brings a mixture of feelings. It is less than 30 months since my mum died and my emotions are still very raw. My mother lived in the same road as me, which was great when I was caring for her. But now that the house is empty and up for sale, I find it sad to go there and deal with its disposal.
The house is on a corner plot. At the front there is a lovely park with a stream and woods beyond where my children played when they were young. In the distance there are the beautiful Cotswold Hills. After my mother became unable to move around, she sat at the front window literally 24 hours a day. She loved her views and the constantly changing scenes being played out ‘over the park’. The sequence of events has varied little over the years, although the main characters grow, move, die and are replaced.
Early in the mornings there is the noisy clatter of the milkman who still delivers pints in glass bottles to his customers of many years. When my son was a teenager he used to get up at 4am to help the milkman with his round to earn his pocket money, before going to school.
This is followed by the dog walkers who go out in all winds and weathers to exercise their dogs before going to work.
Next, the many locals who work at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) pass by. GCHQ is a major local employer and is housed in a magnificent building nicknamed ‘The Doughnut’, because of its unusual shape.
Sometime later, the mums, dads, grandparents or carers taking children to the nearby schools pass by, the children happily skipping and chatting as they rush along the pavement. The parents are usually struggling with pushchairs, schoolbags, toys and umbrellas. It is noticeable that no-one seems to use prams now, just very complex buggy systems.
Later the local retired men gather on the corner of the field having collected their daily newspaper. They sit on the bench, put there in memory of a previous resident, and put the world to rights.
Once the children are settled in school, the dog walkers come out in force. Some are on a mission and walk briskly from one end of the field to the other. Others gather in little groups to chat while the dogs run about, sniffing each other warily before chasing each other and playing boisterously together. There are professional dog walkers who bring 4, 5 or even 6 dogs at a time to get their daily exercise. Then there is the dog trainer, a very serious young man, who displays an impressive control over his beautiful sheepdogs as they sit, lie, wait, come or fetch at the sound of his voice or a brief series of whistles. His praise is their only reward.
Much later the local postman, Gary, comes and parks his little red van opposite the house. He must walk miles in a day but he is always cheerful and concerned for everyone on his round.
Occasionally, in an ageing community, there will be a paramedic’s car or an ambulance outside a house. News of this travels fast, usually via the hairdresser, which is how most local news is carried round the estate.
There have been a few dramas and terrible tragedies on the park in the past. Some years ago a distressed young man sat in the local pub talking to himself and having a pint of beer alone, with a rope beside him. Although people thought this was strange no-one thought to interrupt him, get involved, or get help. Later of course he was found hanging from a tree in the park. I do wonder if a well-chosen word, a friendly face, or an offer of help might have saved him. But people don’t like to intrude on others’ privacy.
Another young man was found dead in the playground after an apparent accidental overdose of drugs. Such a waste of a life, and so sad. The night does strange things to people and young men seem to be particularly at risk I think.
But most of the time the park is a happy, friendly place and the scene of a lot of fun and games.
Four years ago it was noticed that there were daffodil stems growing in a strange pattern on the grassy field. Now virtually every grass verge in the Cotswolds is covered in daffodils each March, either wild or cultivated. In Cheltenham it is the first thing that greets visitors to Cheltenham races. In the forest there are so many wild daffodils that there is a dedicated daffodil walk.
But it was very unusual to see them growing in this spot and they had appeared so mysteriously. As I walked my dog each day I noticed the pattern growing but it was not until the flowers appeared that the message was clear. The daffodils spelled out “MARRY ME”.
The local newspaper begged for details of who the romantic person was who planted this unusual proposal and eventually a young man owned up. He also revealed that his girlfriend had said “Yes”.
I walked there last night and the words are still visible. Isn’t that a lovely way to propose? I find it very touching.
I have lived opposite this park for 30 years and I never tire of it. It brings me a great deal of comfort to know that in her later years when she couldn’t get out and about, my mum was able to sit and enjoy this bustling and beautiful little corner of the world.
The house is empty and silent now except for prospective buyers being shown around it. No doubt they will renovate the whole place with new bathroom and kitchen and decor. My mum’s home will be unrecognizable and the past will be obliterated, every trace of the lovely couple who lived there will be gone. But they will never be forgotten.
If you still have parents, or anyone who is special to you, do tell them before its too late.
This poem was included in the funeral sheet for a dear friend of mine who used to travel ACROSS to Lourdes with us on the Jumbulance. I have written posts about our trips to Lourdes before. The poem was written by Susan M Greenwood of North West Hosanna House Group
If with pleasure you are viewing
Any work that I am doing,
If you like me, or you love me, tell me now.
Don’t withhold your approbation
Till the Father makes oration
And I lie with snowy lilies o’er my brow.
For no matter how you shout it,
I won’t care so much about it,
I won’t see how many tear drops you have shed.
If you think some praise is due me.
Now’s the time to slip it to me,
For I cannot read my tombstone when I’m dead.
More than fame and more than money
Is the comment warm and sunny,
Is the hearty warm approval of a friend.
For it gives to life a savour
And it makes me stronger, braver,
And it gives to me the spirit to the end.
If I earn your praise bestow it,
If you like me, let me know it,
Let the words of true encouragement be said.
Do not wait till life is over
And I’m underneath the clover,
For I cannot read my tombstone when I’m dead.