Mother’s Day is time to honour the significant women in our lives
Mother’s Day with no mother for the first time. Sophie’s first thought was like a lump of lead in the pit of her stomach. Gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for Mum at three-years-of-age when she lost her own mother Alida, Sophie thought as she turned over in her cousin’s queen-size bed feeling guilty that Anna had set herself up in the smallest bedroom. Alida’s grave was still not found, so Sophie couldn’t even visit the place where her grandmother’s body lay. She wondered what it would have been like for the children and grandchildren to visit Oma in the institution. The only cousin who had responded to Sophie’s question, couldn’t remember anything. Sophie’s life experiences had made it clear how traumatic confronting experiences were often repressed; sometimes never recalled during one’s whole lifetime. She remembered Bea’s descriptions of how Alida had difficulty finding something to discuss with the children when they visited Alida with Bea. ‘Makes sense when poor Oma had been cut off from normal life for so long, probably treated with strong drugs , or perhaps even electro-convulsive therapy which obliterate memory,’ Sophie muttered as she swung her legs out of the bed, and descended the tiny spiral staircase.
Marianne had travelled to other cities to meet up with yoga people who she’d connected with via the internet and through the people at the yoga course in India. Sophie’s face beamed as she joined Anna in the small long galley kitchen. ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’
Anna’s face lit up. ‘Thank you.’
After some small talk, Sophie asked, ‘Have you planned to visit your mother today?’
‘No plans have been made, and it appears that my daughters haven’t organised anything, so I think that’s a nice idea.’ Anna cuddled her Alsatian dog, and the cat. ‘I’ll phone her when she should be back from church.’ Her face brightened. ‘We can take that box of hat-rack pieces up to her apartment too.’
After she finally got her Mum on the phone, Anna walked around the corner to the local supermarket to buy flowers.
‘Anything you need?’
Sophie began to shake her head having just returned from a forty-minute round trip cycle to a small international supermarket in the Turkish part of town, before Anna phoned her mum. ‘Oh! I forgot to get wine because the rain started, and I was rushing.’
‘Hey, the most important part’ Anna laughed. She returned in ten minutes, ‘All the flowers are old, but I got the wine!’
‘Mmm, and any new good flowers would have been bought this morning.’
After some time catching up on chores, Sophie checked the time.
‘Goodness is that time already, I just have to walk the dog a bit outside.’ Anna turned off the computer. She had been trying to buy the bus ticket for her cousin’s trip back to Paris.
As they loaded up the dinner preparations, Anna put the cat in the small lounge dining room, closed the door firmly and manoeuvred the dog to the kitchen as Sophie took the baking dish with frozen fish and fresh vegetables into the hallway.
‘Now it’s safe to open the front door.’ Anna sang as she squeezed past her Alsatian and secured the door to the tiny hallway.
They had driven half of the 25-kilometre-trip to her mother’s when Anna exclaimed, ‘Oh dear, I’ve left the pumpkin soup behind.’
‘Oh! What a pity, because it’s so delicious and your mother would love it.’
‘She’ll eat anything,’ Anna laughed. ‘It will keep.’
‘It’s so nice to see the sun again,’ Sophie beamed.
‘Yes, especially now that I want to carry this 20 kilogram box up to my mother’s apartment.’ Anna nodded to the long box which had occupied the whole station wagon behind the front seats. They had to park quite far from her mother’s apartment front door, so they loaded up all the meal ingredients in easy-to-carry boxes. Anna used her own key to open the front door to the complex but rang the bell to the apartment.
‘Hey, we’ve just got inside, come in,’ Bea beamed as she opened the door dressed in an elegant subdued burnt orange suede jacket which Sophie had never seen before never having been in the Netherlands at that time of year.
Bea set about making coffee as they joined Anna’s big sister and her partner who had just brought Bea home from bird-watching walks.
‘Well, I’ve had a beautiful morning,’ Bea declared after Anna and Sophie had carried the heavy box of hat-rack materials after the other guests had opened all the doors as they were leaving.
‘Well, it’s only Mother’s Day once a year,’ Sophie smiled.
‘Actually, this was in addition to all the family visits,’ Bea beamed. ‘I met four more of the neighbours in this complex, and they are such lovely people.’
Anna added, ‘Yes, everyone here is so friendly. I think it’s because it’s so new and everyone is meeting each other for the first time.’
‘Out in the village too, they also notice who is new, and come and say “hello”’ Bea’s face was radiant.
‘So, the move is turning out well?’ Sophie enquired.
‘Better than I expected, I have to admit.’ Bea smiled.
She looked impressed as Sophie told her about the previous Sunday’s expedition which she, her sister and Anna had made to Alida’s last home. Excitement oozed from Sophie as she opened her tablet to show Bea the photos she’d taken: ‘Please, could you try to identify which building Alida lived in for the last year of her life?’
‘I can try.’ Bea put on her glasses, ‘But that building which you say you have seen a photo of before, was not the one where I visited Alida.’ She shook her head slowly, ‘None of the buildings seem to be it.’ Bea frowned. ‘If I remember well, it’s not there anymore. ‘
Sophie’s heart sank. ‘Do you mean to say that it was knocked down?’ Bea nodded.
‘Oh no, we didn’t find the grave either.’ Sophie looked like she was swallowing a sword that cut her heart in two.
As they sat down to Sophie’s baked fish and potatoes accompanied by Thai style stir-fried vegetables, well-cooked for Bea’s 94-year-old teeth, Anna poured the red wine.
‘Prost to mothers,’ she began, and Sophie added, ‘And aunties!’
‘Yes, to you both too,’ Bea added.
The conversation was warm and comfortable with all three women completely at home with each other.
‘Our first Mother’s Day together has been perfect medicine for me on the first Mother’s Day without my own mum.’ Sophie raised her glass again. ‘What is even more special is that you are both so easy to get on with, and so much fun because you have a lovely sense of humour.’
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If your Mother’s Day was upsetting and you’d like a counselling session with somebody who understands, ph 0417 997 016 or email the author, Francess Day