I think it is the natural way of things for children to be born thinking their mother is the hero of their lives. For many people, life gives them cause to doubt this.
I feel very fortunate that not only did I never have to entertain that my mother was not the superhuman I felt her to be, but that growing up I was surrounded by her many friends and colleagues who reinforced my view. Because she was generous and embracing and a champion of others, I was never short for someone to agree with me. We all appreciated her intellect, her wisdom, her warmth, her humour and her openness. In these things I aim always to emulate her.
I loved that her regard for people was not limited by superficial differences. Even as she had been judged by others she did not seek to judge. She once remarked to me as we were strolling down Brunswick Street amid a particularly florid crowd how pleased she was that the world had evolved to allow people to adopt whatever appearance they wished, and how pointless she felt the constraints of convention to be. Isn’t the world so much more enjoyable for all this difference? She asked.
I remember this moment for two reasons. Firstly because it captured her delight in the world and the variety it had to offer. I admired her that rather than let her world grow smaller and more routine as she aged she ventured to broaden her horizons and appreciate over and over again all Louis Armstrong’s sentiments about what a wonderful world it is.
But the other reason, the more important reason, is because in this moment she articulated for me the way in which she could, and always chose to, relate to each person as a unique and worthwhile being. She could appreciate each person for who they were and empathise with them. I know many many people felt she helped them in special ways, by mentoring them in their careers and personal lives, by helping them through hardship, by providing sage counsel and leadership. She was that person, the one you felt was in your corner.
I saw this in the care she took in getting to know and embrace my partner and our children. To know and love them beyond their connection to me. She appreciated seeing the world through D’s eyes, found both great commonality and whole new perspectives in discussions with him. I know she had enormous respect for his professional achievements, and was grateful for the love and family life he has given to me, but she also adored him for the goodness of his heart. And I know she felt a mother’s satisfaction that I had chosen wisely.