Monday, September 19, 2016

What can't be cured must be endured

Between about the ages of 6 and 10 my dad was out of town studying, and my mother was working full time. My mum hired an old family friend to look after us for a very cheap price. She was as old as my grandmother and full of homespun wisdom. She smelt of tea and talcum powder and she looked something like a wizened old version of this Disney character. She had set of neat but ill fitting false teeth. My feelings towards her were neutral. You might think the tea and talc remark implied motherly cuddles and nurturing but it wasn't like that at all. My older brother was her clear favorite and they would gang up on me to make me do things (or that is how it felt). She was full of home spun wisdom and I couldn't stand it. She actually made my flesh creep a bit (unfairly really) but being the child of a rather down at heel family at the time I didn't want to hear about make do and mend. I didn't want my expansive world to be narrowed down with platitudes about "what can't be cured must be endured". Hell No!! what can't be cured must be the catalyst for change. Or the trite and superficially diplomatic assertion that "it takes all sorts to make a world"...when I ventured a less than complimentary remark about a friend. It all just seemed so cloying and unimaginative.
But since my world has now narrowed so utterly as I said before I am beginning to have more sympathy with this woman and her cliches. She was one of those who never married because all the available men were killed in the war. She had lived in Nazi occupied France on the 1940s and contracted polio which had left her with three permanently curled fingers, but still she managed to knit. She lived in a very meager fashion and was really dirt poor and doing us a favour. So I have to give her  posthumous pardon for her apparently small thinking. She was just surviving. She really did have to make the best of a bad lot and remain cheerful, and stay on good terms with people,  and if that annoyed me for its narrow mindedness well, I guess I had a lot to learn.

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