Love and Respect, Gifts from my Mother

My mother provided us children (there are three of us) with love, she loved us unconditionally, somehow she understood each one of us and knew what each one of us required in order to blossom. I wish I’d gotten this when she was alive. She knew she couldn’t tell me anything, or even discuss it with me, I had to experience, come to my own conclusions and modify that as my learnings deepened and I had other experiences.

At high school she arranged for me to unofficially live away from home. I hated being at home. If you had asked me I would have said it was because both my parents smoked and in part that was the reason, I think however it was much deeper in ways I didn’t, couldn’t understand. Looking back I think it was because I needed to be self-contained, to decide when I would and wouldn’t do, things and what I would and wouldn’t do. Somehow Mum knew that and knew that left alone I’d make good choices, that controls would have me rebelling and that would lead to great unhappiness for everyone.

I grew up in Moerewa, an abattoir town. My Dad worked in the casings department, and in retrospect was most likely one of the most secure and highest earning individuals in town. My Mum taught us that everyone is equal, no person is better or worse than another. She took exception to families whose living was earnt in the town but who chose to live elsewhere. She thought it was because they thought they were better than everyone else. I think they wanted to enjoy living in areas that didn’t smell, where there were views, where the neighbours looked beyond what is to what could be. My Dad was a drinker and a gambler. I think he wanted to have more money than he could spend and to provide everything for his wife and family that their hearts desired and then exceed that.

I remember an Aunt and Uncle coming to visit. They had brought a new car and were traveling around the South and North Islands. There was talk about them ‘showing off’. They lived at the bottom of the South Island and we lived at the top of the North, the best time for them to do that trip was when they had a new, reliable car.

My youngest brother thinks he’s the least like Dad because he doesn’t drink or gamble. In some ways he’s the most like Dad, right and wrong is Black and White, he doesn’t really enjoy what he does for a job but he is responsible so he does it and does it well. He supervisors others seeking to be fair and discipline when necessary. Questioning behavior, analyzing motives. He and Dad both love the ocean and to fish, just not together. He wants to provide for and protect his family and saves for the future.

He thinks about what stuff costs like the phone bill. Mum always stretched money as far as it could go. I remember her gathering the leaves from dark green weeds for vegetables. She kept zips from old clothes and reused them, right up till her death.

I’m my fathers daughter. I’m the extravagant one, I’ll pay for everyone. Let me get it, it’s my shout. I’m always looking for ways to make more money preferring to take a risk than play it safe. In part to fund my generosity and to lead an extravagant lifestyle. There is guilt in providing for myself that others are less able. I don’t think it’s about others being needy, just that they either deserve it more or aren’t as clever. I’m also my mothers daughter, I have empathy, I’m looking to understand and make decisions that are in everyones best interest. I’m interested in human behavior and making it possible for others to reach their potential. Hmm… that last sentence, is that where they overlap, my mother and my father?

The other brother, he’s in the middle, seems to be the most balanced. A friend (whose also a middle child) explained recently that’s their role. He has a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters. He works shifts so he can be home when they come home from school. I talk with him and we are both thinking the same way. He’ll have a drink with you, he’ll pick up the phone to call because he can. He just gets on with life, making the most of what is, enjoying the present moment. He’s fun to be around.

All in all we turned out pretty good. This is the only photo I have of our family, Mum, Dad, us 3 children and our significant others and her two precious grand-daughters. It was my brothers wedding and Mum was so happy to have us all together after almost 20 years.

To me the most precious gift my mother gave me was just before she died, Mum made sure she told each one of us she loved us and is proud of each of us. We are very different, live our own lives, yet there’s a connection between us and a respect for each other that few families have. That’s something else we learnt. Respect. It’s another important gift Mum gave us.

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