First, she went to a store to buy a packet of cigarettes after that we both walked to the park where my mother told me to be quiet and watch. I knew where we were going and so was whining about it, my mother then turned and told me very strongly not to be such a snob!
Where were we going? We were going to visit my mothers friends.
As my mother made herself comfortable it wasn't long before she was joined by what appeared to my young eyes to be an elderly gentelmen. He sat beside her as my mother offered him a smoke, he gratefully took it and my mother then spent a few minutes discussing the weather, politics, music and books. It didnt take long before the gentleman began to talk about his life and my mother then went silent and listened.
He told her that he had once had a family but oneday he had come home early from work and found his wife in bed with his friend. The two men ended up in a fight where unfortunately and by accident his friend hit his head and died. The man then spent several years in jail, when he got out his family didnt want to know him, and so his home was now this park.
As the man spoke other gentlemen began to gather around as my mother offered them a smoke, she then told me to offer my seat to her friends and so I sat on the ground near her feet. I watched as an aboriginal man approached, he looked at my mother and said, 'you got a smoke for a black fella, lady?' My mother looked up and smiled at him as she said, 'ofcourse please join us?' He did.
I listened to these men tell of their pain. How some had been kicked out of their homes because their mothers had been in abusive relationsips. Another young man had been turned out of his home once his parents found out he was Gay, my mother took off her cardigan and placed it on the ground so the young man could join us.
I learnt that day that listening is more important than talking. I also learnt to never judge a book by it's cover and that life is often painful.
On the way home I asked my mother why she just didnt give them money or food, her reply surprised me. My mother said, 'if I gave them food or money then it would be charity. It is not about me feeling good, it is about giving those men an hour where they are can be men with dignity.' My mother then looked at me and said, 'noone was born to die on a park bench, remember that.' I remember it.
A few months later I was late out from school and decided to take a short cut through the park. It wasn't long before a younger man jumped out in front of me, I knew I was in deep trouble when suddenly these homeless gentlemen came out from everywhere. I found myself surrounded as the elderly gentlemen said, 'dont think about touching this young lass.' He lifted his head and said proudly, 'her mother is our friend.' They then escorted me out of the park and watched as I made my way home.
I found that day that not only was my mother their friend, she was also a Great Lady.
RIP Mum with love xoxoxoxoxo
A HAPPY & BLESSED MOTHER's DAY TO ALL.