|My mum, Bernice Taylor|
I'm the only daughter in a family of four kids and as such, I suppose you would think that I was a little spoiled. Sure I got my own room while my three brothers had to squeeze into one, and I finally got a horse after years of wheedling in my annoyingly high voice, but apart from that, mum made sure that's as far as the spoiling got!
She taught me wonderful life lessons, without me knowing what she was doing. One of my first memories is her taking me to her work one day. I think I must have been about five years old. At the time, she worked in a rest home. I vividly remember her giving me the important job of feeding an elderly lady her breakfast of porridge, but after giving me instructions on how to do it. With careful movements and watching for the lady's reactions, I tipped the jar up, and let it drop again when she had a mouthful. It was a powerful moment for me. All at once, it taught me many lessons.
* It's important to care for and respect others, especially the elderly. They are us at some stage in our lives, and we all deserve to be loved and cared for.
* Patience. I admit, I'm not the best at this, but that memory of helping this particular lady stays with me when I feel I'm losing my patience. Things take time. Bit by bit, whatever you're trying to do will get done, as long as you keep at it. And sometimes, it is all the richer for taking the time to enjoy it.
* Empathy. That one simple act taught me to put myself into another's shoes. Suddenly, I felt how she might be feeling. Even at five years old, I knew I wanted to make her comfortable and to reassure her that at that moment, there was nothing else I wanted to do more than to spend that time with her. She was important, and it was important to me that she knew that.
* The circle of life. Sadly, this lady died only a few days after my time spent with her. For a while there, I thought I'd somehow caused her death by feeding her breakfast. Had I feed her too fast? What had I done wrong? Finally, I asked my mum, who was quick to inform me that no, it wasn't my fault, and proceeded to explain to me that it was just her time and that is just how life works. After her explanation, I felt lucky to have known this lady, to have been a part of the end of her life, to have shared a part of my youth and energy. Maybe I'd helped ease her into the afterlife - whatever that may be. I feel honoured by that thought.
This is just one of many instances I remember my mother guiding me. Many times, I didn't understand at the time. To be honest, I don't know if even she knew she was! Its not until you're an adult yourself that you can see situations clearly for what they were. But she often tells others I was a perfect child (so those eyes in the back of the head were sometimes blinded then? Thank God!), but I've also had the luxury of watching her mother my brothers. This is a good thing because as we all know, boys are a totally different species than girls! My two youngest brothers are fairly close in age, and as such, had a love/hate relationship with each other. Okay - much closer to an all-out hate relationship back then. One day, mum must have been at her wits end after the boys had come to blows and called each other names, screaming at the top of their lungs. Enough was enough. You've all seen the 'get-along shirts' on Facebook? Yes? Well - my mum, incredibly intelligent woman that she is (and well before her time, I reckon) came up with a solution eerily similar. She tied their wrists together. For. the. whole. day. Over the day, they had to learn how to get on together. They even had to visit the bathroom together! Can you imagine? Those memories still make me giggle. Thinking outside of the square is one of the many talents my mum possessed as a young mother. I wish I was as innovative as she was then!
Honestly - I could go on about this incredible woman, but I might just leave it there for now. Some family
embarrassments secrets should be kept in the family, only to be brought out during milestone birthdays. Believe me, I've got a few tucked away - and it is my Dad's 60th next year, so I'm keeping them close to my chest! :)
Suffice to say, Mum has molded me into the person I am today and I'm thankful for her love, belief, unwavering support and all-round cheer-leading for me and my brothers, no matter what we choose to pursue in life. I'm so blessed to have her in my life and for my own children to benefit from having her in theirs too. Now, we just need to move closer to enjoy each other even more.
Love you, Mum, xxoo