MAINLY MOTHER

I think here I would like to say a little more about my parents. I'd like to start by telling something about my mother.

My mother was 30 years old when I was born, so by the time I remember any real characteristics about her, she was in her mid-thirties and had five children, one of whom, John, had died at the age of nine months, before I was born. She lost another child, Alec, who died in May, 1922, when I was six years old. I have described Alec elsewhere in this narrative.

Looking back now, when I am old enough to make some judgement about her, I realize how stoic and strong she was, living through these tragedies, and, at the same time, caring for the rest of us. Indeed, she produced another two children, Robert and Mary.

After World War I, life was hard, and although my father always had a job, it was difficult to make ends meet when raising a family. But having five children was not exceptional then. My parents were not very demonstrative and never offered much in the way of saying we were loved, but even then, they demonstrated their love in many different ways. My mother was a good seamstress and was always sewing or knitting one garment or another for one of us. She had a Singer sewing machine, which was operated by a foot treadle; it was a well-used sewing machine. Many times, she would knit a sweater or socks; she was never idle.

I have described elsewhere how the family laundry was done, and indeed, there was a lot of family laundry to be done, with five children and a husband who soiled his clothes in a job that required a lot of dirty work. I know that we all took it for granted then, but now that I look back, I realize how difficult it was for her, yet I never heard her complain.

She was a truly great cook, and she and my father were excellent bakers, making scones, pancakes, apple and rhubarb tarts, and meat pies. In retrospect, although neither of them really fawned over their children, nothing was too good for us within the limits of their income at the time.

As a young woman, my mother was very beautiful, with an hour-glass figure and beautiful eyes. She had delicate features and a figure and "carriage" to be proud of. As she reached middle age, she added some weight, but her eyes and smile remained -- and I'll always remember that.

She was born in the real "country" in the borders of Scotland and England. As a young girl, her family moved to Wishaw, a small town in mid-Scotland, which was part industrial and part farm community. Living there, she spoke the Lowland Scots dialect at home, although proper English was also in her vocabulary. At home, she spoke the language of Burns, which is basically English, with a different pronunciation, occasionally salted with a few choice words peculiar to Scots. It was always familiar to me and it has its own charm, although it can baffle anyone who has not been exposed to it.

To conclude about my mother, I wish I could have done more to make her life easier and to have caused her less grief, which I know she felt when I had my own personal disaster in 1928. I am sure, in later *years, she was glad I had overcome that disaster to some extent.

One last detail I would like to mention is that she often sang little songs when she was working around or sitting and knitting. One particular song which I remember well was, "Won't you buy my pretty flowers," a song about a flower girl in the street.

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