Happy Birthday Mum…

It’s that time of year again and close to Mother’s Day here in America.

Mummy would have ninety-three.

How I wish I could be saying,

“Happy Birthday Mummy, you’re 93 today!”

To which she would respond,

“Cheeky monkey, no need to rub it in!”

May 8th is my favorite date on the calendar, not only for its compactness but for its yearly reminder of my mother, one of the most influential people in my life.

May she be resting in the peace of the Lord’s arms.


I’ve been noticing the trees recently here at Footlights; they are difficult to ignore while bursting into leaf because there are so many of them around here.

They have gone from bare branches to brilliant green foliage in a matter of days.


My Mum loved trees from afar.  She knew them by their leaves.

I have slow growing Live Oaks in one of my flowerbeds,


that remind me of the giant Holm Oaks that stood sentry in front of my parents’ bungalow in Broadstairs.

“Thank goodness Thanet council looks after them,” Mummy would say, “they lose their leaves all year round; I’d never be able to keep up!”

We had horse chestnuts that lorded it over our back wall in London,


and provided my brother and me with conkers for battle and trophies to take to school.

“I think most of the leaves fall on the other side, in the convent grounds,” my mother would say with a touch of relief in her voice.  “They’d completely smother my lawn.”

She especially enjoyed sitting under the willows that surrounded a pond on Clapham Common where we occasionally sailed ice cream stick rafts or watched other children as they raced their powered boats across the waters.

“Look at how lovely and long these leaves are,” she’d say plucking a few from the lower branches, “tapered and graceful like a violinist’s fingers.”

I thought they looked like hers.

Our neighbors in London had trees in their gardens,

“They take up too much room,” my mother had answered when I asked why we couldn’t have a tree of our own.  “Can you imagine the mess in our garden during the Autumn?”

She was right I think now, remembering the brittle drifts of leaves along the gates and walls of the convent that we would kick up and play in on our way to school.

The leaves don’t bother me at Footlights.

I look out at our park-like gathering of trees and say to my cats,

“I have woods now, where birds gather and sing the morning office.”

“We know,” they seem to respond as they sit, noses pinned against the screen, watching the cardinals and blue-birds foraging for worms in the grass looking like brightly colored French boules scattered on my lawn.

“The leaves get lost on the pathways and vanish in the undergrowth,” I imagine telling Mummy.

I can just see the smile in my mind’s eye, dancing across her face,


she would have loved it.

Happy Birthday Mummy, I miss you more each year.

Rest in Peace forever and don’t mind the leaves, God will take care of them for you.



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