Friday, 1 October 2010
Control Freakery and Love
Another train journey, on which I read of a dying woman who leaves 100 instructions to her husband on how to bring up their young sons. They run from Kiss boys two times after I've gone, through Would like R to learn recorder or guitar, F the drums and electronic keyboard and Would love the boys to find four leaved clovers and Don't fill outside with your boats, give boys space to play down to Sort out fish tank, pebble chess set, netball centre.
This may be understandable but it is rather horrific. Maybe R hates the recorder and guitar. Maybe F is tone deaf. Maybe there are no four leaved clovers in the vicinity. Maybe the remaining ninety-five instructions are just ninety-nine too much. Maybe there is too much love going round and round and round.
The annals are not empty of women who leave loving instructions on where to find things in the kitchen and other useful tips. It is kindness, solicitude, fate, what you will. Always remember I love you. Never forget. That way lies the classic Jewish Mother.
My own mother, when she knew she was going to die (it was a consummation devoutly to be wished as far as she was concerned), did some mad things. She recorded Happy Birthday To You on a tape so that we should play it on our birthdays. We could have played and replayed the same recording (not that we could bear to) for years on end but she was not satisfied with that. Each birthday, for some ten years into the future, was recorded separately. The same cracked voice actually repeating the same sad tune ten or more times. I cannot quite live with the mad recordings but I know they are there. They are part of the psychological floor that must be walked on.
Her love needed to be present, even though she personally needed to be absent. In the same way, the woman with the hundred instructions needs to be present. I am only doing it for you is a complex truth. The only time I got my face slapped by my dad was when I queried the principle. Something of it in him too, I suspect.