Home > Head2Screen > Me and Mrs Peeling

Me and Mrs Peeling

I was sat in the garden with my mother, Mrs Teresa Peeling. Yes, say it out loud. Teresa Peeling. The Trees are peeling. Laugh it up, I’m grateful. When she divorced my father, she was wooed by a guy named Green. So I’m glad she married Mr Peeling.

It was her birthday. I had saved up all my pennies to put in the petrol tank and go and see her. After the horror and arguements that resulted because of my party (if you really want to know, ask) I wanted to make the effort. I even managed to get a bunch of flours and bake one of them banana cakes.

The three of us, my mother, step-dad and I had chats, laughs and went out for lunch. I took my step-dad aside and asked if I could give him some money towards it, fortunately he said no because otherwise I would not have had the petrol to get back home. We got to to theirs, my step-dad reclined in front of the TV for the cricket/grand-prix/football and my and mum reclined in the garden for chats.

My mum… damn, where to start? She and I have had a turmoiled past. Arguements, estrangements, bereavements, shock horror stories and revelations. You name it. She has bailed me out more times than I can count and I have let her down more times than I wish to remember. She has always been there, arms open wide.

She blames herself for how I am today. She is a mother, so that is no surprise, but it is not her fault. Countless times she has gone above and beyond the call of duty and proven again and again just how strong she is. even when she was weak and crumbling herself, she still raised two children. Thanks to my father, she lost the third child she was pregnant with.

I’m struggling to write this, it’s all coming out in fits and starts because I’m trying to get it all right in my head, sorry. There is some stuff I knew before and stuff that only came out yesterday, so it’s trying to get everything right.

She was one of 7 girls and one boy, her parents met during World War 2. He was in the Navy, she was an ambulance driver. I never asked my mum how my grandparents met. Stupid really.  Apparently my grandad, Richard William Kill (another mad surname, but it’s Irish, so forgivable), the man who I get my name and mad Irish hair from, saw some bad stuff in the war. He would never talk about it, but it was so bad he suffered what now would be known as PTSD. Being a man of his time, there was nothing to be done, so he sucked it up. Unfortunately it internalised and manifested as severe stomach ulcers. 20 years before the NHS so he got his green card and worked as and when he could.

That left my gran, Yvonne Maria Patricia Hooper (anglo-franco if you couldn’t guess, where my nose comes from) to be the breadwinner. As gran was a driver in the war, she drove out of the war. Crane operator, bread delivery (she lost a load of teeth when the delivery van smacked her in the face, but she still finished the route, so the story goes) and even a milkwoman. My mum told me of one Christmas Day when the kids got up and helped her to do the milk run so she would be home in time for dinner. My gran worked and worked until she was forced into retirement. Once the NHS kicked in, my grandfather was one of the first people to have a free operation and had part of his stomach removed. it took him a while, but he went back to work and did as much as he physically could.

Knowing this stuff now, explains a lot about my gran, why she was a hard woman, why my mum never got to further her education and why she got so angry and bitter in her old age. She had worked so hard and the thanks she got? Arthritis and alzheimers. She had 8 children, she also had 8 ‘miscarriages’. I say that because she was the catholic one (not my grandfather as I had previously thought) and they couldn’t use contraception – they also couldn’t afford to feed so many kids nor have her take time off work. Have you seen Vera Drake?  yeah, enough said.

This led to my mum telling me about her, about how she has never been out of work for long. Why, no matter what, she has forced herself to struggle through her own depression and face her own devils. She has not eaten so her younger sister could eat, she sold her hand-me-down clothes to the rag and bone yard to get a few bob for medicine one bad winter. She has hidden from the Tally Man, crying silently in a corner when he came to collect. It made me feel awe and pride and shame for being a fat weakling.

We found we had more in common than we thought too. I knew she was a published author – a short story in a collection like me – but I didn’t know she had the same problems as me when it came to writing. Fits and starts, obsession and neglect. Such things should be obvious through mother and son, I suppose, but we’d never really considered it. Anyway, I got my mum enthusiastic about writing again, I felt more pride, she is going to get a blog together soon and write. Unlike me who abhors the real world and lives in fantasy, she writes about what she knows, what she fears, what she has lived and I want to read it.

This post never had much sense to it. It’s another ‘something on my mind coming out on the internet’ – it’s why I created the head2screen category I guess. The thing is, I love my mum, I’ve been a shit son and I owe her so much, I know this, but there is no-one better at knowing me or *getting* me. I’m writing this through tears so let’s try and end on a funny note…

Supermarket check-out, we’ve been shopping, laughing at stupid stuff only we get, making references to things only we know about, proper fun stuff. We are playfully arguing as we get there, we know people are listening and we have an audience.

Me: Well I never asked to be born, mother.

Her: Well I never asked for the condom to split, son.

  1. August 3, 2010 at 11:43

    Now you’ve got me crying. Have so much I could tell you, you are not a shit son, you are human, and magnificent in ways you can’t see yet. You are your mothers son alright, and am glad you can see that too.

  2. Tara
    August 7, 2010 at 20:33

    She sounds like one hell of a lady,I’m glad you got her inspired to write she sounds like she has a lot of tales to tell.I hope it inspires you to get writing too x

  3. Kitty
    August 13, 2010 at 09:51

    Beautiful x

  4. Nessa
    August 30, 2010 at 06:55

    Your grandparents awe me, and your mum sounds very smart. She sees in you what the rest of use see, but you cant.

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