As I grow older, I notice more and more how I have similar mannerisms to my mother. I also find myself thinking, 'God I sound just like my mother’ on a regular basis and this is not a good thing. And now it seems, I’m acting like her too.
Three good friends are hosting a farewell party on Saturday night. (Yes, it’s that time of year when I briefly acquire a social life. Unfortunately this consists entirely of farewell gatherings, something which almost guarantees an eventless social life once June has passed.)
As the three friends have nine children between them, and are all packing up houses to leave Norway, I thought they could do with a bit of help on the day of their party. I offered but of course they insisted that they have everything under control. Determined to do something, I then suggested that I could take some flowers along to decorate the venue. There’s an enormous hydrangea bush where the snow mountain was only a two months ago – the miracle of nature eh! – so I have plenty of flowers to give away. They graciously accepted but I suspect that I’m not really reducing their stress levels, just complicating their preparations, while making myself feel useful (or not, now that I have really thought about it).
The thing is too, I haven’t a clue how to arrange flowers into beautiful table adornments. I’ve never done it before. I couldn’t even remember the name of the flowers in my garden when I needed to. What was I thinking?
Then it occurred to me as I played with the idea of buying those spongy things for sticking flowers into that I had just done exactly as my mother did for my wedding.
We hadn’t given our friends and family much notice, and as we got married in Scotland, there wasn’t much my family (in Ireland & Denmark) could do to help me prepare for the event. They were, I suspect, too stunned by my wedding announcement to do much actually; my father used to joke every time I got a new boyfriend that he was going down to the betting shop to check the odds of the relationship lasting. He had the opportunity to use this joke often enough that it became tired. You can perhaps understand their surprise that someone was finally offering to keep me for life while giving them only six weeks to find plane tickets and outfits for the ceremony.
Anyway my mother organised the wedding cake in Ireland and put it in the boot of my friend’s car. Fortunately my friend was driving to Scotland for the wedding, otherwise I could be telling a very different story. Back to the flower thing.
The day before the ceremony, my mother also offered to do some simple flower arrangements for the tables. I hadn’t really thought that I needed table decorations – there was a lot I didn’t know I needed - but sensed that my mother needed to do something, to feel useful, to be involved in the event.
And this is exactly what I have just done with my friends’ party without consciously thinking about it.
It doesn’t seem to matter that my life has been completely different from my mother’s, that I’ve had opportunities she could only dream of, have lived all over the world and, for the most part, have had it easy. Not a jot. My mother in times of needing to be needed offers to arrange flowers. And so now it seems, do I.
And what if flower arranging at social events is just the start of the slippery slope into mimicking my mother’s ways? Right now I hate golf. Don’t understand it. Haven’t the patience or focus needed for it. What’s the betting that I'll start playing when I'm 58?By the time I turn 60, I’ll be playing three rounds a week and spending every phone call with my children waxing lyrical on the joys of hitting a little white ball around some grass with a long thin metal stick?
In the meantime though, I've got some hydrangeas to arrange. Any tips?