There’s a note written on the back of an envelope on my desk this morning. I remember it now. I wrote it in the middle of the night after waking from a dream. I have little inkling of the dream, though once I consult the note on the envelope all might be revealed.
Yesterday I went with my mother to visit her cardiologist. Her heart seems fine at the moment, blood pressure 125 over 70, better then mine. That one leaky valve seems to have stopped leaking. Her heart is smaller and functioning well with the aid of medication.
I mentioned to the cardiologist that my mother had lost her sister recently and he listened patiently as my mother went over the story again, about how she had not expected her sister who was six years younger to die; how it is so much harder when her sister is so far away in Holland; how she could not even go to the funeral.
I’ve been distracted by a phone call from a colleague asking questions about another colleague and suddenly I feel I am dragged into the mire of politics, which is perhaps similar to the issue of sibling rivalry and all the ugly emotions that get stirred up when families and professions are in conflict.
Enough said, back to my mother. Earlier in the waiting room as we waited for the cardiologist to materialise my mother mentioned the fact that tomorrow is Mother’s Day.
I have reservations about this day. It stirs up mixed feelings.
‘I’m not interested in Mother’s day,’ my mother said, as if she had read my mind, 'but your brother, F, came during the week with a huge bunch of flowers.'
My aversion to Mother’s Day must have started long ago when I was young. My mother told us repeatedly then how she was not interested in Mother’s Day. It was a commercial ploy to get people to send money, she said.
I’ve tended to agree. On Mother’s Day we feel obliged to honour our mothers whether we want to or not.
And for me, even if I wanted to acknowledge my debt to my mother on Mothers Day and my love for her, it would be marred by the fact that the opportunity arrives on this one particular day of the year when someone else dictates that I should honour my mother.
My mother with one of her babies. I've yet to ask if she recognises this one. It could be me. For years I've been on the hunt for a baby photo of me. It's not easy. This photo is poorly focussed and given my mother has had so many children, she must identify each by extraneous variables - the location of the photo, the dress she's wearing, the time of year.
I have tried to urge my children not to feel obliged on Mothers Day.
It was easy when they were little. Their school might have orchestrated a card or a stall and a small gift, but thereafter the day was as any other.
As our children grew older and could make up their own minds, they were less inclined to make a fuss in much the way I have not fussed in relation to my own mother.
My mother has urged us not to bother on Mother's Day and yet underneath I sense her desire that we do so.
Do I want my children to acknowledge me on this special day? I’m not sure.
The same applies to Father’s Day. These are days of ritual and perhaps they go further than mere commercialism. They stir up feelings of ambivalence in some. For others they might become a way of fulfilling obligations, that one day of the year event. After that it seems we need not acknowledge our mothers at all.
It is the seemingly compulsory nature of Mothers Day that troubles me.
And as for the dream: I went into the ‘exterocet’ by clicking on to an arrow that led to the other side of a blog. In my dream the exterocet was Internet speak for white space. Terrifying white space. No one had been there yet. It was the equivalent of hell.
On the surface, this snippet of dream makes little sense, but there’s meaning there, if only I can unpick it.