Sunday, 12 October 2008
Thinking of My Mother . . .
This is a picture of my mom when she was about 20 or so. It's from somewhere in those years between graduating from High School, going to Normal College and meeting my dad. I've always thought she was beautiful, and she still is. Apparently the photographer that took this photo was so taken with it, he used it to sell his photographic services to others. I bet it worked a charm!
My mom is from the old school. She doesn't have a computer and won't have a bank card . . . no matter how many times those evil people at the bank try to talk her into it. I think she thinks they are the mark of the beast or something. She sits down and writes letters to each one of us three children every two weeks. My brother and sister get a letter one week . . . and I get one the next. I try to call her every two weeks, and because of that, she organizes her letter writing to fit in between my calls, so as not to repeat in the letters anything she may have told me on the telephone . . . but really, it doesn't matter to me. I love to get her letters anyways, even if I have already heard the news contained inside. She calls me twice a year and I can depend on that . . . Christmas morning, and on my Birthday. Those letters and phone calls are treasured by me . . . probably even more so because of their rarity.
My mom met my dad at a dance on a military base in Nova Scotia, Canada, back in 1954 and after a short courtship they were married. She, who had never been out of the province of Nova Scotia, soon found herself leaving kith and kin and moving to the wilds of Newfoundland to be with him, because, by that time, he had gotten transferred there. That's where they got married. She had no family at her wedding. Just my dad and some people he knew, that stood as witnesses.
My mom still has the dress and shoes she wore, and is probably one of the very few people I know that can still fit into them without having to hold her breath or squeeze anything in. As a child I was fascinated with the shoes . . . black velvet and round toed with high heels. I loved to put them on and walk around in them when she wasn't looking . . . as an adult, they woudn't fit on my baby toe. So I was made in Newfoundland, but then, in 1955, I was born in PEI.
My dad got transferred a few times in those early years of their marriage. In 1956 he got the transfer of his dreams . . . 4 wing in Germany . . . Baden Baden, deep in the Black Forest. He went over first to acquire a place to live and my mother followed, on her own, a time later with baby me in tow. After never having been any further than a good day's drive from her parent's home . . . what a brave woman she was to travel all that way . . . across a major ocean and over several European countries, baby in tow . . . all by herself. I believe there was one pit stop for fuel in Scotland, but other than that . . . she did the whole journey in one go, with me in her arms.
We landed in Germany on Christmas eve and, wonder of all wonders . . . the airport had lost her luggage. My dad had managed to procure a set of rooms for them, in the top of a Gastoff (pub to you guys) and that is where he took her that night. She was in tears . . . no clothes to change into, no clothes for me . . . not even a clean diaper to put on me. Christmas eve . . . foreign country . . . no close family around . . . didn't know the language, and . . . tired to the bone after having travelled many many hours across many many miles, with a cantankerous baby, to be there. My dad contacted the landlady downstairs and after telling her of his predicament. Despite the fact that she and her family were having their very own Christmas celebrations, she very kindly cooked them a dinner of Schnitzel and brought it upstairs. Then she took me off my mother's hands and downstairs, so that my mother could rest. (Apparently the woman fashioned me a diaper out of a pair of her own knickers.)
That was how my mother's adventure in Germany started out. A lot of women would have given up, but not my mom. She met this challenge like she has met all the challenges in her life, with dogged determination that life was not going to beat her and she rose above it all, emerging a winner. She came to love that country and it's people.
My mother taught me many things when I was growing up. I believe that much of the good in me comes from her. I think I get my spirit of adventure from her, and my strength of spirit and sense of humour. I think those qualities are what helped get me through all those years in a very unhappy marriage and it is those qualities that enabled me to move across an ocean to start over in a new and foreign country.
My mother is loyal and faithful. She still votes for the same party she has always voted for. She buys her groceries from the same store she has always bought them from, still uses the same phone company, still uses the same cable provider, etc. She is not one to change sides just because the other side is more glitzy or even cheaper. She remains loyal to my dad, even though they have been divorced for many years now. She remains one of his best and most trusted friends when all is said and done, and has always been there for him, whenever he has needed her, and she always will be . . . no matter what. She always hoovers on Thursday morning . . . and God help you if you try to disturb that routine! She wouldn't say anything to you if you did . . . but you'd know that something was wrong just from her manner. Routine is very important to her, and it really upsets her to have it disturbed.
I guess I probably know my mom a bit better than my brother and sister do. After all I had her all to myself for a good three years before either of them came along and I have also lived with her several times off and on through the years after I grew up, twice with my children and once after my own marriage broke up. In fact, I was living with her when I met my Todd on the computer. I know all her habits and her routine, and I respect the way she chooses to live her life. I honor all her quirks and ways.
My mom has always been there for me, whenever I stumbled and fell . . . a stalwart port in any storm . . . her loyalty and love buoying me up and carrying me aloft to safety. It is one of my deepest regrets in life that, at a time when she is getting old and perhaps needs me the most, I am stuck here, over 2,000 miles away. That's not the way I planned it should be. I would have her here with me tomorrow if I could, and if she would come, but I understand that she would not be happy so far from her home and her remaining family.
She is probably what I miss the most from my homeland . . . more than children, more than siblings, more than country . . . I miss my mother most of all. I save all of her letters, and treasure them. As much as I have come to depend on one being pushed through my mail slot without fail, every two weeks . . . I know that one day they will stop. I treasure each and every minute of every phone call with her . . . because I know that one day they will stop as well. I try really hard to do as much as I can in every way to please her and to show her that I love her . . . because I know that one day, no matter how much money I have or time or whatever . . . it will be too late, and so I do it now, while I still can. Life is too short . . . too fleeting . . . today is all too soon gone, and tomorrow never comes. I treasure her now while I may.
Here are some cookies that you are just going to love. They're a little bit like my mom . . . spicy and gingery, with a bit of a bite . . . but coated with a sweet smooth white chocolate tinge . . . my Todd just loves these!
*White Chocolate Dipped Gingernuts*
What’s better than a gingernut biscuit? A white chocolate dipped gingernut biscuit! Bet you can’t eat just one!
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup dark treacle and golden syrup mixed together
(or 1/4 cup of molasses)
2 cups flour
1 TBS ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 TBS finely minced candied ginger
1 further cup of white sugar
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 tsp butter
Pre-heat oven to 189*C/350*F. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the syrup mixture, mixing in well. Sift together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in, mixing in well. Stir in the candied ginger.
Put the remaining 1 cup of sugar into a bowl. Shape tablespoon’s full of the cookie dough into round balls between the palms of your hand. Drop into the bowl of sugar and coat all over. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until done. (Will look all crackly and be firm to the touch) Remove to racks to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate chips and the butter together. Dip one half of each ginger nut into the melted chocolate shaking off the excess. Place on wire racks covered with parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set and harden.