Tomorrow is the birthday of a very special lady in the lives of both myself and GOF.
Mum possibly has to be seen to be believed. I’ve never met anyone quite like her. She laughs. Oh lord, how she laughs. If Dad and I perform just the right antics, we can make her cry from laughter. So can the cat, the dog, John Cleese, random insects and oxygen. She’ll try to recount exactly what’s making her laugh, then trail off with a hissssssssss noise in the back of her throat and randomly belt whoever happens to be standing nearest while the tears run down her face.
Sometimes I’ll catch myself laughing like Mum, and it makes me happy.
Undoubtedly Mum was a sweet little thing when she first moved to Australia with Dad, but years of having her innocent chain yanked by her cynical husband and precocious daughter has given her an edge. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, so she can wind you up without you suspecting she’s winding at all. Case in point…Mum and I both enjoy our two minute noodles. Mum likes to poach an egg with hers, a concept which has never appealed to me. The last time I was back home visiting, the following took place:
Mum: Are you cooking noodles?
Mum: Would you like me to crack an egg into them?
Inga: No thanks.
Mum: Are you sure?
Inga: I’m sure.
Mum: I’ll just crack an egg into it and see if you like it.
Inga: MUM! I said no!
Mum: Are you sure?
Mum: Why don’t you want me to crack an egg into them?
Inga: BECAUSE I DON’T WANT YOU TO!!! I DON’T WANT AN EGG IN THEM!!!
Mum: Are you sure? You might like it.
Inga: MUM ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO A SINGLE WORD I’M SAYING?!?!?!
Mum: How about I just crack an egg in there?
At this point I’ll realise she’s yanking my chain, and facepalm myself for falling for it. The sad thing is, a few weeks later I discovered I rather enjoyed a poached egg with my two minute noodles, and have been doing it ever since.
I remember the first time I ever looked at Mum and went holy crap, she’s an amazing woman. I was 11 or 12, and we went to the hospital to visit an old gentleman friend who was dying. He couldn’t move or speak, and we weren’t even sure that he knew we were there. Dad and I stood awkwardly against the wall, while Mum sat down next to him, took his hand and prattled away like she was chatting to someone over a cup of tea. She can’t have been much older than I am now.
Prattling is one of the things she does best. Mum can talk from Millaa Millaa to Mossman about that time when I was a baby and she thought I’d eaten two cents but I didn’t. Several years ago she was on a plane from the USA, and found herself sitting next to a deaf couple. Fourteen hours on a plane with no one to talk to? You might as well jam bamboo splinters under her fingernails. So she pulled a notepad out of her handbag, scribbled down “hello, my name is Mrs GOF”, and passed it over to her hearing impaired travel buddies. Lo and behold, she now had someone to ‘talk’ to and she tells me they still stop and say hello when they see her around town.
She has amazing stories to tell, but often they’re mixed in with stories like ‘The Time the Dog Pulled A Funny Face’ and ‘Look I Bought A Rubber Mallet’. Being so small and vibrant and unassuming, it’s easy to forget that behind the beaming smile and bouncy afro there’s a lady who’s lived twenty more lives than I ever will. I wish she’d write her stories down.
Happy Birthday, Little Lapun. Love you long time XOX