I imagine my own parents felt the same way about me when I turned 12, or 21, then 40…..
As a 12 year old child, my interest in my parents was minimal, to put it politely. (Here is the slightly less polite version). I continued to take a nonchalant disinterest in their lives and stories throughout my childhood years and on into my teens. I saw them as historic. Ancient. Irrelevant.
This (at best) apathy, (at worst) mild contempt went on until I became a parent to the aforementioned Millennium Boy at the age of 32. At this point, I developed a sense of my own responsibility and awareness of my mortality which gave me the ability to recognise that my parents were real people, with real lives who had dutifully nurtured me for so many years.
The defining earthquake, however, arrived as an earth-shattering TEN on the Richter Scale in April 2006 when my mother went and died.
I finally wanted to know everything there was to hear about her life as a young woman, how she met my dad, her days at school, her childhood in World War II Britain, her boyfriends, the fashions, her mistakes and her triumphs. But it was simply too late.
Stupid, stupid me.
I had spent countless hours reseaching our family tree’s dead ‘uns, without a moment’s thought about the most precious people of all – those who were standing right beside me. And now another Mother’s Day approaches. This is the day when I would like to leap on her in bed and shower her with butterfly kisses, but I can’t. I can’t buy a card for anyone. I have no-one to whom I can send flowers. I can’t call her and ramble, or take her out to lunch. Whilst I may BE a Mother, I do not HAVE a Mother. This is a realisation not to be underestimated.
So, what of it?
Well, I ain’t dead yet.
My disinterested, contemptuous, apathetic children WILL have my stories preserved as a legacy for their future. I WILL capture each and every moment of their growth in a set of embarrassing photographs, whether they like it or not. I WILL spill my guts about the highs and lows of my existence in my narrative for them. I WILL leave them with the gift of memories.
I will take the made-in-haste hand-crafted Mother’s Day card which they will bring home from school and I will scan them and preserve them. When the day comes that they fell their TEN on the Richter scale, they will have baskets full of memories waiting to cushion the blow. It’s my duty.
So, assuming you ain’t dead yet either (and not reading this from the Other Side), do yourself a favour and start saving your family stories so that they won’t have to.
R.I.P Jeannie. Love you always.