Of course, she’ll always be in my heart, but I’m sometimes tempted to say that she was my mum. Things change, people grow and I’m no longer the kid I was back then. She was the touchstone in every matter of my heart, the source of every comfort and I was at centre of something embracing, protecting and warm – a family.
And it’s not that she doesn’t love me now – I know she does because she tells me so. And I know that she cares for me – I hear it in her voice. She has a smooth, loving voice that’s meant to comfort, and a stern, bossy one that corrects me when I need it. I didn’t know which voice she would use when I asked her the question, but I asked her all the same.
“Hi Mum – how you doing?” Not like Joey from Friends says it. More emphasis on the do than the you.
“Oh, I’m alright, love – how are you?”
“Not bad. Listen, has my dad ever hit you?” I’m nothing if not straightforward and to the point.
“He has, yes – why do you ask?”
“I was just chatting to him about why you left that day and he says that he didn’t hit you and that I should ask you about it.”
Absolute credit to the lady, she knew exactly what I was talking about and she didn’t even flinch. When I think about it now, it’s as if she’d been waiting all her life for me to ask that question. Perhaps she still thinks about the day she left the family home and never came back. I wouldn’t blame her if she did.
“Yes, he hit me that day, but he …”
And then she started to tell me some other stuff that was only slightly related to what I wanted to know and, to be frank, is none of your business. Unless you’re my mum, of course; in which case – hi Mum!