Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday

Here's my mother yesterday, on her eighty-fifth birthday.

She has never been pleased by the fact that she shares a birthday with Adolf Hitler. He would have been a hundred and twenty yesterday, but I'm glad he wasn't.

As you can see, my mother is very fit and, I'm pleased to say, looking extremely well.

The cake was very kindly provided by Silverback, who seems to be following a little-known rule that the birthday cake should be the same size as its recipient, who loved it. In fact we all loved it.

We had a meal and a chat afterwards, several of us, and my mother enjoyed every moment - so did I.

She's had a tough couple of years, with the Communist's illness and death. She doesn't find illness easy to cope with. I do - I have often thought I might have become a pretty decent nurse. My mother would have hated that. "Oh no, you don't want to be with all those ill people."

My mother and I are very different. She's quite an intellectual - there was only one scholarship to university for the North-West and she got it. She still likes reading what I'd call "difficult" novels, and I just don't.

She was always a bit of a sporting star in her youth - she was being coached for the Olympics in swimming until Adolf Hitler dropped a bomb on Barrow-in-Furness's swimming baths (he probably resented sharing his birthday with her). She captained the University of Leeds hockey team. Now I love swimming too - we do have that in common - but playing any kind of team sports was always veering from boredom to torment for me.

But perhaps the greatest difference between my mother and myself is that she's a great extrovert, and I'm just not. She likes nothing better than a party or a dance, and, in general, I would shy away from both. "It was a party!" she says about any gathering that she particularly enjoys. It's her highest commendation.

She's never been able to understand that I don't like big parties and much of my childhood was spent being taken to them, protesting all the way, with my mother's cry of "You'll enjoy it when you get there!" ringing in my ears.

I have always felt in her shadow, for no real reason except her ability to mingle and mix and enjoy all company, which I just can't do. She's in the middle leading the dancing: I'm sitting in a corner wishing I was somewhere else.

She had a stroke when she was sixty-eight and has made an amazing recovery - but it has left her worried about many things, and it upsets me when she does that, because she never used to. "You're going to Manchester? Oh no!"

I want to say "You're not my mother!" because she always used to be positive about all new experiences. Now they worry her.

But, in her comfort zone, gardening or swimming, she is truly magnificent: she must be one of the fittest eighty-five-year-olds in the country.

And I'm delighted that she had a very happy birthday. Many thanks to all who helped.


Blogger Jennyta said...

Many happy returns to her from me, Daphne. She looks absolutely brilliant.

6:46 pm  
Anonymous ruth said...

belated gigantic birthday greetings from me (save me a piece of cake!)

6:58 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I looked at the photo and wondered why anyone would give such a huge cake to just Daphne and her mother. Then I kept reading and found out.

Silverback must have bought in to America's concept of wretched excess in all things while (that's whilst to you) he was here.

8:51 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Jenny - thank you, yes she does!
Ruth - thank you too!
RWP - well, there were seven of us at the meal - - and there are always lots of people around here who like cake - plenty of actors always in the house - and it's a Very good cake. And Mum was thrilled to have such a huge fuss and such a huge cake, so Silverback's choice was spot on.

8:57 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

The cake came from Costco....nuff said.

As your mum is going to Tenby (on her own), Barrow and Amsterdam in the near future, I don't think you need to worry about her losing confidence in herself.

I love the idea of Hitler having the Luftwaffe bomb Barrow swimming baths to stop your mum taking part in the Olympics.

"Dammit Goering, I told you Jesse Owens wasn't a swimmer"

10:41 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Happy Birthday Mama! She dresses youthfully and sparkles like somebody half her age but who is that weirdo in blue holding a camera in the picture on the kitchen wall?

11:41 pm  
Blogger Dizzy said...

*~*~*Happy Birthday Joan*~*~*

9:56 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

I am so looking forward to meeting your Mum!

I am jealous of her birthday cake though! I've not had a birthday cake in years and years!

1:11 am  

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