Romance Writing Takes Back Seat
Romance writing definitely took a back seat in my life these last few weeks. Not because of celebrating the silly season of Christmas and New Year, but a much more personal celebration. My mother reached the giddy heights of 100 years of living.
Now I’ve begun writing this there is so much I’d be honoured to share with you about my mother that I’m going to make this post into “Part One” of my thoughts surrounding her birthday celebration.
My mother is an incredible woman, so quiet and unassuming she is still perplexed as to why so many people would want to visit with her on her birthday. She had been heard to say variations of the same “but no-one cares about my birthday, its not important” many times during the preparations.
The opportunity to stay at the marae (a meeting house for social and ceremonial occasions) meant Mum’s extended family could all be together for 5 days. As some had travelled from as far afield as Perth, Queensland, Auckland, Tauranga as well as those living in Southland and Otago this allowed us to ‘bond’ again. This was so preferable to us meeting somewhere for a meal and then dispersing to different locations to stay. Some of the younger ones had never met their cousins, or hadn’t seen them for many years.
We had 20 sheets of photos displayed along one wall, beginning with her birth certificate and tracing as much of her life as possible. Of course the photos from her childhood/early life were much less numerous, but there were enough to show her adventurous spirit. The slide show we also had running on a laptop during the celebration was probably not seen by many of those attending – even in the big dining room of the marae, and with many visitors spilling out onto the verandah, space was limited once people started arriving.
In today’s world, its unbelievable to imagine the things my mother did as a young woman. She biked around a fair portion of New Zealand with another girl going from job to job. I cringe to imagine my reaction if my daughter had wanted to do anything so potentially dangerous today. For most of the war years Mum worked on a tobacco farm in Motueka and from all accounts enjoyed living in this picturesque part of the country. Mum laughs and dismisses any mention of how adventurous she’d been as a young woman. Her bike was important because there often wasn’t public transport going where she wanted to go. She remembers that sometimes, when they got tired of biking, they’d catch a train, like after they’d biked from Motueka to Christchurch (420km), they thought they’d train on down to Dunedin.
I think my mother has had a hard life, but I know she’d scoff at such a suggestion. Growing up in the twenties on a farm wasn’t hard according to her, helping milk cows before walking miles to school, farm chores which never appeared to end, initially no electricity and ten kids living in a little two bedroom house were all just part of living in those days. But I’m glad she had her adventures during the 1930’s, she made lifelong friendships which she treasured. She was 30 when she met and married my dad and they settled in Mataura, looking forward to a long and happy life together, I imagine. Only this was not to be. His wartime experiences caught up with my father and he died within ten years, leaving Mum the job of raising three children alone. I’ll always be in awe of how she coped and gave us such a wonderful upbringing.
Of all the things I think about my mother, the one that most often comes to mind is her sense of humour. I struggle to understand how someone who has had so many knocks can be so ready to laugh. She is forever laughing, at herself, at us, at situations around her. She’s an amazing lady and I know how very lucky I am to have had her raise me. She taught us to be independent and encouraged us to have confidence in ourselves to pursue any pathway we desired. She taught us the meaning of hard work and tenacity. And so important to me as a writer, she showed me a love of books and reading which still fills much of her day today. When I’m writing, I like to think I’m writing my stories for her. She’s already finished reading Leath’s Legacy, and in her own inevitable way, praised me to the hilt by saying “it was quite interesting” – I accept this as high praise from her.