Memories on Mother’s Day

As a child, I remember making mother’s day cards with flowers made out of tissue.

Sometimes we even made bunches of paper flowers with stems made out of furry pipe-cleaners.

We would always visit my grandmothers on Mothering Sunday, as they both lived nearby.

Today I’m sitting with a cup of tea thinking about the mother figures I’ve had in my life, and reflect on how they influenced me.

Nan

My nan was my mum’s mum. I remember her as a kind and modest countrywoman who loved nature.

She grew many types of flower in her garden and her windowsills were full of pot plants.

During my childhood she worked mainly as a cleaner, with some additional seasonal work plucking pheasants for the local butcher.

When she was home her TV was always on, and she would sit crocheting while watching the wrestling or laughing at The Two Ronnies.

Her crochet projects were simple blankets for the local animal shelter. All her local friends would donate oddments of yarn which she kept in a box under her sofa.

It was my nan who made sure that I learned to knit.

She also gave me her hand-operated Singer sewing machine, and I think of her every time I use it.

My nan loved being part of village life, which I experienced through being taken to bingo nights, jumble sales, and pantomimes.

She rode a bike until just a few years before she died.

Once I could drive, she would ask me to take her to visit family and friends.

I also drove her to view a litter of shetland sheltie puppies when she decided she wanted a dog, and then I drove her a second time to collect her puppy who she named Trixy.

Nan would often call me Trixy instead of Tracy which always made me laugh.

Looking back, the main thing I learned from my nan was the value of a local community and to find enjoyment in simple daily things.

Grandma

My grandma was my dad’s mum. I remember her as a dynamic and energetic woman who did things quickly and with the minimum of fuss.

I think her motivation for streamlining things was so she could make time for her hobbies.

She loved to paint all manner of subjects, including landscapes and flowers.

Her other passion was for golf and she played several times a week with her friends, sometimes taking part in competitions and winning trophies.

Grandma was born in Walthamstow, the youngest in a large family.

Her father, uncles and brothers all worked in the family cabinet-making firm, based for many years in Clerkenwell.

Grandma’s first job was setting stones for a jewellery making business.

After she met my Grandad she moved to Birmingham where they brought up four children, the oldest of whom was my dad.

My grandad was a keen vegetable grower and my grandma used to freeze lots of his produce.

She would also batch cook soup, back in the day when my only other experience of soup was Heinz tomato soup from a tin.

She always made tea in the pot, and never switched to tea bags.

A cup of tea was always in a china cup, served on a tray with the biscuit tin.

The main thing I learned from my grandma was to make time for myself and to nurture my creativity.

She also gave me a deep respect for a good cup of tea.

Mum

My mum was very independent and something of a rebel, quite  different from my friends’ mothers.

She was a lifelong music lover and sun-worshipper.

She had the radio on from the moment she woke up, and she used to love watching Top of the Pops on TV.

In the seventies she wore cut off shorts and flip flops like some sort of uniform. She drove a mini, and would drive us around with her portable radio on the front seat.

Mum loved a bargain and made coupon clipping and special offers a fine art.

She loved foraging and knew the best places to collect wild blackberries.

All year round there were fresh flowers in the house, often gathered from the garden or in the wild.

I remember going bluebell picking during May and taking armfuls of them home.

She was a brilliant cook and every meal felt like a small occasion. The table was always properly laid with serving dishes.

Mum took special pride in her pastry. Her apple pies were her signature pudding, and for years she even made her own mince pies at Christmas.

She also loved a packet of crisps and there were always Kit-Kats in the fridge.

The main thing I Iearned from my mum was to make a warm, welcoming home and not to worry too much about convention.

I also learned to value family mealtimes.

Taking some time to reflect on these women over my cup of tea today has made me realise how they’ve influenced me in small but important ways and how much I miss them.

I wonder how my children, or maybe my grandchildren will remember me.

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