My mother has finally become pale and interesting.
As a teenager mum always wanted to be pale, instead of the brown skin from playing hockey, and surfing Sydney’s northern beaches; and interesting.
I’ve always thought she was interesting.
Catching the train and bus into the city each afternoon, mum would spend an hour every day researching all of the world’s great religions. For a whole year. She wanted to learn, to know. To understand. She eventually resigned herself to being agnostic, believing in something, but not being sure of what.
Imagine her surprise when her husband: the shy 2nd youngest son of a politician, who meekly asked for Bunty’s hand in marriage - and her father continuing to sharpen his tools -not even looking the young man in the eye; this man, this adventurer; her man, our dad; aged 42, father to their five children, soldier, sailor, missionary – imagine her surprise when he travelled to Brisbane for a year to study to become a priest.
She remained agnostic. She has always remained interesting. My mother is pale, and interesting.
June pressed her powered cheek against mum’s.
How are you darling?
Oh…she groans…it’s so hard.
A small tear wells in each eye of the women. They continue to hold hands with their eyes closed.
I am leaving for the airport, to travel home. I can see my sister Carolyn struggling with something near my handbag.
What’s happening sis?
I am trying to put this envelope into your handbag without you noticing.
Mum has asked me to do this, and she doesn’t want any argument, and nor do I.
Carolyn rings me in two days time. Did you open the envelope? Cripes! No. I have been too sick to care.
Inside is $200 and a note, in my mother’s beautiful handwriting. I can see the original biro didn’t work. She has made 3 attempts to write the capital letter P.
It took her a long time to write this Patty, Carolyn tells me. I can see the effort. I am stifling the tears as I write this, as I know in my heart it’s probably the last note my mother will ever write to me.
When I am ready, I’ll blow my nose, but for now, the tears flow.
Mum writes "appreciate your loving care" but she leaves me no kisses. There are no loops.
To be continued…