monday morning blues
The month of March is inevitably going to remind me of my mother. Her birthday was on 9 March, and she died on 23 March 1981, 22 years ago today, around 11am. It was a Monday morning, a normal school day for me, and I had just started travelling to the Dundee High School in Natal, South Africa by bus, after attending the local Dannhauser Primary school for six years. (The school year in South Africa matches the calendar year, because summer in the southern hemisphere runs from Nov – Feb.)
My sister and I never knew how ill my mother was, or had a chance to prepare for her death – that information was kept from us. We knew she had cancer of the larynx, but not that it had metastasised and was terminal. My sister never forgave me for not immediately bursting into tears when we were given the news after being picked up from the bus stop by a friend of the family. That’s not my way, and it didn’t signify anything.
Since my mother, Caroline, died before I turned 13, I have to admit that I never really knew her. My main memories of her naturally include smoking, but I also remember how tall she was, how she had to be coaxed on to the stage to sing in a cabaret revue, and then stole the show. I didn’t share her Catholic beliefs, though, and stopped going to church as soon as I politely could, after she died.
Compared to the tragedies endured by others, I know that I’ve had it easy. I can’t claim to have been deprived of anything, since things could have been much worse, more likely worse than better. Still..?