The greatest thing my mother ever did for me was to boast about my achievements to other people while I was present.
She would always say things like, "David is so good at drawing," or "He is so good with his hands, he is always making things." She would show people my creative endeavors.
I don't think she was even conscious of what she was doing. I believe she was genuinely proud of what I could do,
This turned out to be a tremendous boost to my self esteem.
I remember starting school at aged five, full of confidence.
My father was gone, in the Army during WWII, I never knew him in those early years until I was nine years old.
By the time I left school, throughout my teen years and early twenties, every scrap of self esteem had been taken from me. Either physically beaten out of me, or probably worse removed by the verbal put downs, not only by my father, but by school teachers in the British school system.
My father I can excuse, he knew no better, but school teachers were a different matter. I can only trust that the school system in the UK is different today.
However, underlying this low self esteem, was the knowledge that "I was good with my hands." I felt there was nothing that I could not make with my own hands. Not only that, there was the feeling that I could do it better that most. This in time was my saving grace.
My self esteem returned many years later by way of bicycle frame building. At first it meant little to me that someone would tell me my work was good; I already knew that, my mother had told me so. But, in time when I allowed myself to give credit for all I had achieved, I realized if I was good at this, there was nothing I couldn't do.
My mother was born in 1897. She was almost 40 years old when I was born. I never knew her without grey hair. She had a tough life. Smashed her kneecap as a child in an accident while playing on a construction site. As a result one leg was permanently straight, unable to bend.
She was widowed in her thirties, with two small children. Married my father and endured a lifetime of pysical, verbal and emotional abuse, because that is what women did during her time. She died in 1982 at the age of 84.
One other wonderful thing she did for me, after witnessing my father strike her on many occaisions, she would tell me what a cowardly act it was for a man to hit a woman. Because of this I was able to break the cycle of abuse. I have had my share of problems in relationships over the years, but abuse is not one of them.
I thought that I should write this as tribute to her on this Mothers' Day. I owe her so much, and can truly say I would not be who I am today had it not been for my mother.