The blower II August 12, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
“Oh, hello mum.”
My mother had just been away for a while. She was combining a school reunion with a family affair and it was all going to be awfully exciting. My mother is 71, so left school at least 100 years ago (or thereabouts). Apart from her siblings, I don’t think she’d been in touch with anyone else she’d gone to school with in all this time. The school has even been closed for 40 years. There was scope for Proustian moments in this trip galore. Galore galore.
“So, was the trip fun? Was the reunion a hoot? Any eligible bachelors?”
“It was very well organised, and there was a lovely spread.”
I think we were approaching this from different angles.
“Yes, but did you bump into people you used to play had with 60 years ago whom you hadn’t seen since? Were there Cilla Black’s Surprise Surprise-worthy reunions with tears and hugs and perhaps even having to break into a sprint?”
“Erm, no. Well, someone did take a photo of me and a boy in my class.”
“So, you DID bump into someone whom you hadn’t seen for at least 55 years? Was that fun? Is he married?”
“Yes, he’s married. But I didn’t remember him.”
“What, so this man, whom you hadn’t seen since you were, say, 16, came and approached you and said, ‘Hello, remember me?’, perhaps having harboured feelings for you all this time and was wishing his wife ill and was secretly chuffed to hear that you were a widow and you just said, ‘Who the fuck are you?'”
“Well, I didn’t say, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, but your name escapes me at the moment’.”
Which was, I suppose, at least better than confronting him with the undiluted truth, i.e. that this person had left absolutely no chink in the armour of her memory whatsoever.
“Any other old friends there?”
“Oh well, you know, most of them are dead.”
“What, at 70?”
“Oh yes, you know, people move to different places and die.”
Which can’t be true, can it? People don’t just move and die. In their late 60s. My mother had made that bit up.
I gave up quizzing my mother about her school reunion. Of course her approach to it was far more sensible than my own. Whereas I wanted to be silly about it and look for gossip-worthy – goddammit, even blog-worthy moments – she saw it for what it was: namely, a chance to go back and revisit a bit of her past. To see the place where she grew up. To see her siblings. And, to come away, having compared herself to the Joneses, no doubt contented that she’s outlived a lot of the others and was the one who did the forgetting rather than the being forgotten. And it was all well and good, but, and I’m guessing this must be the case for many a parent, my mother’s own childhood has become something of a PS. She’s not of a generation to think herself important. Her life now, even as she slips into forgetful dotage, is that of her children.