Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Mothers and Others

Maypole dancing and Morris men, ‘well-dressing’ and students who climb to the top of church towers to greet the dawn with song, before leaping into the river in Oxford and Cambridge, still happens here in England. Although this time of year can be cold and grey, we optimistically celebrate what we hope will be flower-filled days full of sunshine.

A village four or five miles from where we live, has its own Maypole and yesterday we saw the children preparing to dance around it, with garlands of flowers in their hair. An activity probably more popular with the girls than the boys! But the custom of leaving a bunch of flowers on a neighbour’s doorstep or in a porch to celebrate May Day was new to me … until this year. And it got me thinking. If I could give a bunch of flowers to someone who has made a significant difference to my life, who would I choose?

My mother would have been 100 years old this year, and she lived, always quiet and self contained but loving and giving, until she was almost 95. But I’ve been gifted with a second 'mother-figure' in my life. When my father’s job took him to Malaysia, at a time when there were no 12 hour flights to bring families together, and children tended to return ‘home’ for boarding school education when they reached their teens, I needed a ‘guardian’. Someone who would liase with the school and provide a home and family during the holidays.

My guardian, affectionately known as A.R, was a childhood friend of my mother, as unlike her as chalk is to cheese, but very special, so full of fun, possibility thinking and ‘get up and go’. She welcomed me into her home and family, was a second grandparent to my children and has blessed my life in so many ways. Now 98, she is waiting ‘for the call up yonder’ as she puts it, a little confused at times, but her example, and touch on my life at important moments, has helped to make me who I am, and I will send flowers to her care-home this weekend.

How about you? How many ‘unsung heroes’ have you had in your life? A teacher? A neighbour? A mentor, a grandparent or even someone who has written something that has made a difference to you? Who will you be sending a note or some flowers to celebrate the joy they have brought to your life. Mother’s Day is a chance to say thank you – to Mothers – and to ‘Others!’

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