Mothered, not Smothered


I doubt that is ribena

This was due yesterday, mother’s day here in the UK, but for reasons of incompetence it never happened. Still, one day late is better than not at all….

My mother died in January 2010 after a short series of illnesses.  Her last conscious moment, in intensive care, had her blink at me, say ‘Hello darling’ and lapse into the final coma that proceeded her death a day and a half later. Not bad final last words, when you think about it.


Dad is ready to be the life and soul while Mum lends a helping hand

She wasn’t a woman of many words, preferring to create an environment for the men around her – me, my father and brother – to indulge our egos and opinions. She loved nothing more than a large gathering, usually involving lots of home cooked food, with a vibrant atmosphere and debate and discussion, fun, family and friends.

She was a snob who hated pomposity, a liberal with trenchant conservative views, an atheist with more faith in the goodness of humanity than a dozen church-fulls of the devout.

02- BOX - 012

Early days; mid 1970s

She lived for the day, loving her life in rural Hampshire with her beautiful and productive garden, her leading role in the creative life of the local WI and her dearly loved if often irritating husband.

Mum loved the chat of the radio as the background noise to her life – her muzak. The Home Service that became Radio Four was a constant, often driving my father to turn off the radio with an irritated ‘For god’s sake Barbs, can we please have some peace and quiet?’ He, however, was to be found arguing with whoever was on the radio, be it politician, expert or commentator. One day mum bought a new portable radio – in pink plastic. She waited until my father was in mid rant, face inches from the speaker, spittle on his lips when she leant across him and put a silver pom-pom on the top of the set. Dad looked at her quizzically. Mum looked sad, ‘Poor little thing. How would you like to be shouted at like that?’


The Vet and the Lawyer, Zorro and Mrs Dalloway…

If mum was happy at her many family gatherings, surrounded by her beloved grandchildren – her dressing up box was second to none – she was at her most relaxed working in her garden, carving beauty from the infertile clay of the New Forest over 35 hard sweaty years.

Picture 022

Every year, on her birthday, my father write her a poem. One recurring theme of those poems was ‘Barbara’s Gone into the Garden Again’.

The Gardener 21st October 1990

Barbara’s gone into the garden again,

(The weeds are in for a shock)

And she’ll spend happy hours, ‘mid her shrubs and her flowers

With never a thought for the clock.

The October sun is warm on her back,

As she works through the herbaceous border,

Green-fingered and sure, coaxing beauty once more

Out of summer’s prolific disorder.

A drowsy wasp vies with later butterflies

On apples in tumbled profusion,

And there’s sweet disarray, in the garden today,

A warm, multi-coloured confusion.

The old hedge is starred with scarlet rose hips,

Tireless bees plunder each ivy flower.

And where grasses stand tall, unwilling to fall,

Still the cat haunts her summertime bower.

Soon clouds will pile high in the dark Autumn sky,

And the earth will lie sodden with rain,

Then – in jerkin and boots, not caring too hoots,

Barbs will go gardening again!!!

Picture 078

Mum, 1945 aged 19

She didn’t believe in mother’s day. Her views were simple. She’d chosen to have us, and she should be thanking us for being her children not the other way round. It’s a seductive fantasy when you’re small and pocket money is hard to come by. But you soon realise how much you owe a parent with that attitude. Always mothered, never smothered.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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38 Responses to Mothered, not Smothered

  1. Sacha Black says:

    Wow, what a fantastic tribute to your mum. She sounds like an amazing lady. And beautiful too, what a stunning photo of her in her teens. She shares the same name as my mum!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Foy says:

    This is gorgeous. “She didn’t believe in mother’s day.” My mother doesn’t either and for that reason we never celebrated it much but instead tried our best to show her appreciation everyday. Thanks for sharing a small picture of your mother with us.

    p.s. “atheist with more faith in the goodness of humanity than a dozen church-fulls of the devout.” Makes me hang my head in shame. I wish we were a better people. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah Deb thank you; and Mum would say that you can but do what you can do on each fresh morning – so when you pull back those curtains, smile and be good today!! That’s all that’s expected. :-))

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dylan Hearn says:

    A beautifully written, heartfelt piece. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Always mothered, never smothered.” I hope all four of my boys can one day say the same of me. I loved this and I always forget that Mother’s Day in the UK is in March. Your mum sounds like she was a very special lady and I love the way you describe her spirit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks jess – she managed the letting go piece for my brother and me very well – a strong sense of freedom but with just enough guilt to make sure we did keep coming back! Actually to be fair, she made it fun; that’s what brought us back

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Claudette says:

    Lovely. I think that word describes Mothers best, and yours sounds lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How did those women of that era look so beautiful? Yours is absolutely stunning.

    My mum died in 2004, there’s a post (as usual) about her somewhere, but here she is in her prime:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. willowdot21 says:

    Your Mother was beautiful in looks and spirit, and your dad’s words show their love!! You have written a beautiful tribute to your mum. I am sure you have read my effort but here it is again ! ( any excuse)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jennilepard says:

    What a woman ey!?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. AJ says:

    What a wonderful post/tribute. Your mother was beautiful and I absolutely love the poem. It sounds like your parents loved one another dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A marvellous tribute your wonderful mother, Geoff, and I’m going to add along with the rest that she was a beautiful looking women. Your dad must have thought he’d hit the jackpot when he met her. Would love to know more about where they met, if you haven’t already written a post about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That was more or less perfection, Geoff! Lovely piece. I can’t say my mother was like that particularly, but she was beautiful and I loved her, and she was my mum. At some point in nearly every day, I long for a Mummy cuddle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I miss the wit and wisdom and unexpected hilarity most. Cuddles were nice too.


      • She sounds lovely. Mine was more like “All right, let’s stop buggering about”, or prone to doing things like switching channels on the tv using her knitting needle to prod the set, just as you’d got stuck into Top of the Pops or something. She was lovely in her way, though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Mine had this way of saying ‘Coffee’ just when some Dennis Potter drama reached the raunchy bit and my brother and I perked up. The sight of a bra being unclipped had the old girl in a frenzy of activity in front of the screen – talk about seven veils.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Annecdotist says:

    Lovely tribute to your mother, Geoff, and good to keep her memory alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Autism Mom says:

    I love this. This was my favorite part: “She didn’t believe in mother’s day. Her views were simple. She’d chosen to have us, and she should be thanking us for being her children not the other way round.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Rachel M says:

    What a lovely tribute to your mum. She sounds nice. And I can’t think of a better way to spend the days than out in the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Charli Mills says:

    A beautiful tribute. She raised you well.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sherri says:

    Beautiful tribute, beautiful woman and beautiful family life. What could be better than that?

    Liked by 1 person

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