Saturday, September 3, 2011

A family trip: Portrait of my mother.



Having been away from home now for 8 months my excitement kept me awake the week before my parents and sister arrived here at  Cadorna station, and when they arrived it felt like have never been away from them. So on that excited state we parted from Milan central station for a trip starting in Tuscany, making a turn in the Alps and ending in Milan.
Going on holiday together as a family is not something new to me. This is one of the important things my father worked into our years since I’ve been a child. It was not necessarily anything luxurious yet these childhood travels through South African landscaped lies embedded in my mind as joyful childhood memories.  However I have not travelled with my parents in years, and I’ve never travelled with them as a grown-up. With my new perspective of travel  and perhaps this part of growing older  it made me look at my parents in a different way, it was sometimes frustrating  but mostly quite entertaining, and somehow  illuminating in who I am.

My mother is a lady. I have never heard her utter a crude word in my life, never heard her shout and she always drinks her tea from a pot.  When we have guests things are served properly and when it is a special occasion the good silver is taken out.  She is also very shy and sometimes it seems has this thing where she needs the confirmation of others to make a choice, but at the same time she has very strict ideas of what is wrong and right, even though she would never impose it on someone. My mother has been brought up to be completely proper. She was raised in the height of Afrikaner nationalism in Pretoria, in the times when children must be seen and not heard, where women got bad reputations for “promiscuity” and where most things they saw were under the conservative censorship of the then government**.  On top of that they were raised  in kind of high society Pretoria of those days, my grandmother have always been the perfect host and was featured sometimes in the society pages for the dresses she wore to functions. This makes my mother often care too much of what other people think.

The problem is this, my uncle always said to me that in my case the apple falls very far from the tree; I am not shy, much more flexible on my ideas and I am definitely not as conservative. Yet the older I get, the more I am aware of my complete resemblance to my mother, I talk like her, I look like her, I tend to express anger like her and I have inherited al lot of the same insecurities. This was a scary thought for me at first, yet once I observed the situation more closely I realised that it’s also from her which I’ve gotten that thing which has allowed me to have a life full of  amazing friendships. It is from her that I learnt to be soft, to be loyal, paying attention to my friends, baking cookies for everyone for no reason, to keep the peace, be diplomatic and that clean sheets and a well made bed is the best thing in the world, and that little things count.  These qualities are which made her a wonderful mother. She always made sure I had tissues on me, a habit I still have now and I am lucky for, one always need those at some point.  It is she who made me tea every afternoon after school, who put flowers on my bedside table when I came to visit from university and who listened to me moan for hours about the same topic on boyfriends that broke my heart.  She always has time for people and it is something that I have inherited that I hope I will never lose. 

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