Melbourne, 2020

A gift from my younger son, a musician.

An album called Purple Mountains, the pseudonym – I learn from my son – of the late, troubled David  Berman.

“He’s a good lyricist,” says Reuben. “Bit melancholy.”

The song titles point the way. All My Happiness Is Gone. Darkness And Cold. She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger. Maybe I’m The Only One For Me.

‘Melancholy’ ain’t the half of it.

But one song title stands out. One title has me impatient for the CD to get to Track 7.

I Loved Being My Mother’s Son.

Have six words ever said so much?

I head for the lyrics sheet and its, tiny, tiny hand-writing.

way back when I’d first began
starting when I first was young
through all the years that were to come
I loved being my mother’s son…

A sweet song. A tribute.  A thank you. A low-fi indie pop love song.

And it makes me think: Did I love being my mother’s son? Or did I just take for granted the gift of motherhood?

It’s all in the verb, isn’t it? It’s not that I didn’t love being my mother’s son. It’s more that I never really thought about the role of the child being to knowingly love the mother, never thought about articulating the love.  It’s ingrained, isn’t it?  Did I ever say to Mum that I loved being her son? Maybe I did as a toddler. In some way. Hopefully I said, “I love you, Mum” more than a few times. But love can be unspoken, cannot it?

When I see my two young grandchildren clamber all over their mother, my daughter, and park themselves on her lap, I can see the love, the dependency, the nurturing.

I guess I did something similar with my mum, but as the fourth of six children I may not have been afforded much time on Mum’s lap.

Over the years I have written regularly about my father. About his old pushbike, and his love of cycling.  About the old footy jumper that belonged to a mate. About the small bridge named in his honour. About his work.  About the beachhouses he built. About a quip about the Bob Dylan
album Planet Waves.

What have I written about my mother?  Cups of tea and clotheslines.

Maybe I’ve written more about my father because he was – ever-so-slightly – a little distant. That generation of blokes not saying much. So I guess I’ve been trying to fill in the gaps.

Whereas Mum? Well, Mum was Mum. School lunches. Ironed clothes. Taking me to hospital all those times on the train. Church.  Apron.  Patience.  Barley sugars on roadtrips. Cups of tea and clotheslines.

yes, I loved being my mother’s son
I loved her so because
she was so kind & genuine to me