I’m conscious that I often write or speak about my Dad but rarely about my Mum. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps because her career in children’s services was confidential and we didn’t really talk about it. Growing up, I was just vaguely aware that if she was dressed in a suit it meant that she was spending the day in court.
Of course, stories occasionally came out. Like the time she admitted that she couldn’t allow us to drink out of a milk bottle because she had worked with a child who was only able to wee if he did it into one.
Retired now, and enjoying a life of travel with my Dad, she is still upright, curious and involved. She volunteers in a charity shop but, you will understand what I mean when I tell you, they don’t let her use the till.
My parents are Mr Chalk and Mrs Cheese. Dad is highly technical, what marketeers call an “early adopter” in all things technical. (Our house had a tracking dish connecting to the newly launched satellites so that we could watch tv from all over Europe!) Mum is a people person, gentle but firm. She is an amazing Mum, one of those types to whom you can tell anything and I always knew she had my back. She would have made a great teacher but for the fact that she worked to find solutions for children with much bigger issues than school.
It doesn’t come out often but she has an incredible sense of humour and she was telling me recently of a conversation with a small boy she met at a bus stop.
For their retirement my parents decided to purchase a base flat in the local city, near their family but something they could leave to travel the world. The flat is within walking distance from the city centre but Mum gets tired quickly and now catches the bus home after her volunteer shift.
On this day she was sat at the bus stop next to a fidgety boy. The boy was busy swinging his legs and his exasperated mother was losing patience, so my Mum decided to distract him.
“Hello, what’s your name?”
“Charlie” he replied.
“How old are you Charlie?”
Charlie then thought for a moment and leaned in close to Mum. In a very serious and confidential voice he imparted words that only someone so young and innocent can say…”Little old lady, you’ve got a bogey.”
Trying hard not to giggle, my Mum did what a five year old would expect. She reached for a tissue, blew her nose and said “Thank you Charlie, is that better?”
After a moment of close inspection Charlie replied, “Yes it is, little old lady”.
It took my Mum some time to tell us this story as she kept laughing. She loved Charlie’s ability and confidence to speak out and his concern that she shouldn’t continue her journey with “a bogey”. But most of all she loved his choice of name for her…
…even at 76, my Mum is still 5ft 8! A “little old lady” she is not!