Sunday, 12 August 2012

Mother's 90th birthday


Home to Codsall for my mother’s 90th birthday. The houses seem increasingly adorned with vertical drapes and the new, apparently modish, shit coloured window frames.

On the morning of the birthday she found a large brightly coloured hoola-hoop on the back garden. It had a label on and seemed to be new. None of the neighbours knew anything about it and we noticed small holes in the edges. I think it was a gift from the local fox population, or possibly carried there by the birds. She has been feeding them steadily every day, for the last fifty years. Over the years their food has improved greatly, they now get all kinds of expensive seed all year round and in the winter tiny,  perfectly cut lard sandwiches.

I always take my cat Maisie, who in human years is 86, for treatment when I’m up there, as it is so much cheaper than vets in London. Looked up the phone number in my mother’s book, hunting through a maze of crossings out  realised her book is like a grave yard. Almost everyone in it is dead.

My mother seemed a bit disturbed before her birthday, worrying about her future. She also started “de-cluttering” facing up to the possibility of losing her home by offering to unload her treasures on to me. She has some very nice things but I have noticed in the past that when I bring them  back to my place in London they don’t look right – removed from  the context of her house they lose their shine, and my joy in them.

Later, when she was feeling better she started congratulating herself on living so long.
 “I must have done something right” she said with satisfaction.
 I mentioned my great grandfather who lived to be 100 although he was hugely fat, smoked and drank heavily.
 “It’s the luck of the genes,” I said.
“It wasn’t genes,” she said, “He was just wicked Irish.”  

She received at least 50 cards, not bad going and I gave her lots of parcels. Ever the optimist she wanted a watch from me, and was quite specific; stainless steel face, black strap. 
I ordered it from Samuel's on line. It arrived in a very large box with lots of wrapping and two other boxes inside. We opened the final one and there it was - sparkling gold with a brown strap. 

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