Sunday, August 15, 2010

A child in postwar Brisbane - PART 2

"Everything with a place and everything in its place." My mother adhered to a shorter version of that:  Everything all over the place.  She was chaos on two legs and never put something in the same place twice.

She was forever tearing the house apart saying "Where is that damn thingamajig?  I know it's here somewhere."  She spent so much of her life looking for things.  It never seemed to occur to her that a little order would go a long way.  No, that would mean having to discipline her mind and that was something she avoided at all cost.

She was a gentle person and everyone loved her (especially those who didn't live with her), but she drove Dad crazy.  He was exactly the opposite.

When they were first married, he had only one place in the house he could call his own - his lowboy.  He kept it tidy, knowing exactly where everything was ... to the millimetre.  He was paranoid that Mum might touch something, so he measured where he put everything and then strategically placed a single hair.  Oh yes, he would know if she had moved something while he was at work.

As you can imagine, their marriage was not a happy one.  Neither of them gave an inch (or a millimetre).

Mum was just as chaotic in her speech.  Near enough was good enough; it was the listener's responsibility to figure out what she was actually talking about.  For her, there was nothing wrong with saying, for example,  "radio" when she meant "television".  So long as it was roughly in the right area, she had done her job.

But most of the time she didn't even bother with an approximation.  It was "thingamajig" or "whachamacallit".  The listener would suggest a string of words with Mum going "No ... No ... No ...".  She could be infuriating.

I understand her inability to find words.  I suffer from the same problem, but I use techniques like forming sentences in my head before speaking and almost "manually" bringing my brain to attention.  I don't have the same problem when writing and neither did she.  She was a good writer and, before the world of blogging, she would send her short stories and poems into women's magazines under her pen name "Morning Carol".

Despite her chaos, she could actually think clearly.  I noticed this when I was very young, and I respected her because I could not find fault with her reasoning.

(To be continued)

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