On the other hand, my father and I saw eye to eye on almost all things. I could never understand how he was so incredibly patient with the strange foibles of my mother; her shrieking, her inconsistent discipline strategies, her constant cursing of Africa and its heat.
She really loved plants and trees, just as I did. When she was in a magnanimous mood she was quite adorable, and would be very kind. She lavished stubborn affection on her cat, and whichever of my siblings was acting up at the time, while usually blaming the others for the miscreant's lousy behaviour. Of course this is only my perception of things at the time.
When WW2 came, everything changed. My father was away, and wouldn't be back for years. We stood in line for rations. It was a fearful experience. And then my mother, brother and myself undertook the long trip with hundreds of others, for a magical new life in South Africa.
I grew up in a little Zulu village, and only much later, in my new country did I pause to think of the difficulties she must have faced in that village, in a strange culture, so far from any resources, ending up with 6 hopelessly adventurous children.
My father was a mild-mannered person so it would have been difficult to even have a good spat with him!
I started to remember things differently, struggling to think of reasons for her lack of emotional involvement. At that time 1 in 4 people were not on anti-depressants. you were supposed to just live through pain of any sort, mostly mental, but often physical too. I think my mother was quite depressed, and who wouldn't have been? There wasn't anyone to turn to.
If only I had possessed the wisdom of an adult in my child's body . . . My regret is knowing life as I do now. Perhaps I could have been a better daughter.
I don't think the village will ever forget the day those boys tied their grandmother into a chair and ran a barber's clippers from forehead over her head and down the back to her neck, making a neat wide hair parting! Don't know how the grandmother ever recovered from that trauma, but I'm willing to bet her son didn't offer counseling. It just wasn't even thought of in those days.
When I heard my mother was dying I phoned immediately. My sister tells me she had been unresponsive for days. She roused immediately, and we had a long distance, whispering goodbye. Then she quietly passed away. My sister said she was waiting for my call.
On this Mother's Day, my mother, I think of you. I thank you for giving me this precious life, resourcefulness and the ability to know that most things in life can have a happy twist, even in the midst of sorrow.