About Monica McInerney
Words // Monica McInerney
For most of the year author Monica McInerney lives in Ireland, so when she gets to visit her mother in Adelaide, every moment is precious treasure that she stores away till next time…
MOTHER’S DAY: Monica McInerney
This morning at 7.30 a.m. my Mum brought me a cup of tea in bed. When I got up to have breakfast, she reminded me there was plenty of bread in the freezer and that she’d bought a new packet of cornflakes yesterday. She recommended I cut up a fresh peach to put on top. A short time later, she started doing some washing, and offered to do mine at the same time. All the while, we chatted, flitting from subject to subject like butterflies choosing flowers in a garden. Discussion of a news item. The weather forecast. A forthcoming family gathering, and the various logistics involved.
All such ordinary happenings, but I am treasuring each one, tucking them away to revisit when needed. I am usually 16,000 kilometres from my mother. I live in Dublin with my Irish husband, while she is here in Adelaide in a small apartment. It isn’t our family home. My six brothers and sisters and I grew up in a big rambling house and garden in the Clare Valley. After my Dad died in 2000, Mum stayed there for three years before moving house and town in what was in many ways a brand new start. She can run, but she can’t hide. We all come looking for her, needing her, wherever she goes.
I sometimes think of her as a cat with many lives. She’s had cancer, a stroke, heart troubles, joint pain, a shoulder injury. She’s recovered each time. She is wise as an owl, bright as a bee, mischievous as, yes, a cat. Another creature too: for reasons none of us can quite remember, one of her many family nicknames is The Lizard, shortened to Lizzy. Another nickname springs from her childhood in country South Australia, where she was the youngest by far of the seven Hogan children. She told us once she was known around town as ‘little Mary Hogan.’ We seized on that too, and all regularly call her LittleMaryHogan, the words rolling together. She’s LMH for short.
She is a big reader, still often getting through a book a day. She does two crosswords every day. She knows everything that’s going on with all of us, because we tell her everything about each other, but she always pretends she doesn’t know a thing.
When we were kids, it was precious to get any one-on-one time with her. It often involved fighting off other marauding brothers and sisters or feigning illness or sheer luck. Even now, here I am, aged 54 to her 80, still craving that special time, revelling in every just-the-two-of-us moment. By accident or intent, she rented an apartment with only one spare bedroom. When all seven of us are around, we take in turns staying with her, like playing a game of Mum-tag.
I go back home to Dublin soon. I’ll be swapping sunshine for sleet, a big blue Australian sky for a low grey Irish one. On Sunday 12th May, I’ll see mentions of Mother’s Day on social media and do my best to quell a familiar jolt of sadness, a sharp pang of homesickness. I know I’ll be wishing I was back in that small apartment in Adelaide, up early, making a cup of tea. This time it will be for her.