The memory is crystal clear. Yet it wasn’t crystal, it was glass.
There, sitting on the mother’s day stall at the Penguin Primary School in Tassie, was an ornate, glorious-looking salad bowl. Or it could have been a fruit bowl. No matter, it was a bowl. There it was sitting among all of the other gifts you’d find at a primary school mother’s day stall in the early ‘80s.
It shone out like a beacon among the soaps wrapped in a face washer, crocheted coat hangers, bath salts, scented drawliners and barbie dolls bizarrely sown in half, redressed in a crocheted frock and nestled neatly on toilet rolls.
The bowl even had gold leaf on its edges ….. though time and truth would reveal it to be gold paint. This bowl was a mother’s day gift too good to resist. And so, it was purchased. Given that in later years I discovered that back then all of the items on sale at that stall were donated by other mums, there was another mother pleased to know it was going to a good home. Or simply, going.
The look on my mum’s face on mother’s day morning was one of shock and surprise. Her son, staring at her expectantly, assumed it was “good” shock, but looking back it was probably more along the lines of “what the bloody hell am I going to do with this salad/fruit bowl thing” type of shock.
Yet, to my mum’s credit, she wrapped her arms around her son, said "thank you” and put it away in the cupboard with her 20 other salad fruit bowls.
Such was the beauty of this salad bowl, I never saw mum once use it. It was clearly too valuable. That must have been the reason. Yet that blasted bowl came with us on three separate house moves and each time it was neatly tucked up the back of a cupboard, clearly too important to be on display.
Such is the love of a mum. We miss you every day mum. Happy Mother’s Day.
Julian O’Brien, Fairfax Media.