Mother’s Day …
Shamie, Conor and me had fierce rows over what to get Mammy for Mother’s Day. What do you give the woman who has everything – “Nothing!” Shamie said - but he was only messing I think.
I wanted to get flowers, Shamie said chocolates and Conor said perfume – probably because he uses her perfume all the time. And the Shamie fella would fairly horse into the chocolates too. At least my flower suggestion wasn’t about getting something for me – though I do love the smell of fresh flowers in a room – except lilies. Mammy goes mad when her Light Blue perfume ‘evaporates’ as she says. She runs around the kitchen after Conor trying to smel l him but he just says ‘because I’m worth it’ and runs off. She’s great.
We asked Daddy what did he think would be the best present to give Mammy and he said if we all got our own place. But sure you wouldn’t be a Mayo son unless you lived with your Mammy til you were at least 40. She’d lose the will to live if she’d didn’t have the housework, making dinners, ironing, washing, painting, DIY, gardening and all that. It keeps her young and I’d never get my shoes shining like she does. I still don’t be as clean after a bath as when she washed us but at 20 it was time to at least try to learn to scrub meself.
If you look at the young ones today they all know about smoothies and takeaways but are sadly lacking in the area of ‘wife material’ as Shamie says. I always judge them on Mammy and they are coming up way way short. Some of them can’t sew a button or iron a shirt. They think they have their independence or equality or whatever but it’ll all catch up on them when they have a husband and kids and aren’t able to run their home properly. I was out with a girl a while back. I won’t name names but Lisa wasn’t able to make a basic Irish stew. To me that calls her whole Irishness into question. It’d be like a young girl from Peking not being able to make sweet and sour chicken. That just wouldn’t happen.
Anyway it’s very hard to keep secrets from Mammy because she can read our minds. She’s great. Daddy says there’s not a lot of reading there – whatever he means by that. So we decided to go into town and see if we could pick up a few ideas. Shamie drove us in the car he got from the team sponsor the other week. I always loved Opel Mantas especially the black vinyl roof and the racing stripe. And such a cool reg - 87 MO 87. He has it for six months once he puts new tyres on it and gets it a service. Conor calls it the babemobile but I think that’s wishful thinking. Baberepellent more like.
And who were the first people we met up town? The Ballintubber Boyos – with all their Mother’s Day shopping done already and them heading for a skinny latté in the 1951 Café. Diarmuid had soaps and something called pot pourri – I think it’s a kind of pasta. Cillian had a scented candle and a Capodimonte porcelain flower. I hate the way the O’Connors are so organised and perfect and always have everything right. Swots. We started talking about our Mammies. Cillian started reminiscing about the time his mother gave him a thick ear and sent him to his room for throwing a tantrum. Diarmuid said ‘that was only last Monday’. Cillian shot the brother a filthy look and then went as red as his scented candle. We all sniggered and they sloped off for coffee.
Shamie said let’s go into Donie’s shop and see if he has some nice shoes. Conor said ‘I just got some nice pumps last week – I’m grand.’ ‘It’s for Mammy ya feckin eejit’ Shamie snapped. He gets very thick with the kid sometimes – I just laugh. Donie was a bit surprised to see us and nearly fell out of the high heels he had on. He said he was only checking to see if the heels were strong enough. Whatever. Shamie asked him had he anything decent for Mammy at the right price.
Next thing he arrives over with a pair of the quarest things you ever saw. The colours were strange to say the least and the pattern was just stone mad. Crocodile skin he said. Next thing Conor was chasing Shamie around the shop pretending to bite him like a crocodile. Shamie fell over a foot measure and nearly knocked over a very old lady. She was not impressed. ‘Gobshites’ she roared, ‘if ye were half as lively in Croke Park I might see Sam again before I die.’ Donie kicked us out but not before I asked him to order a pair of men’s crocodile shoes in for me. ‘Don’t bring that pair back in with you when you’re collecting them’ he said.
It was getting dark and we still had nothing got for Mammy. Conor suggested a baby pig like the eir ad. Things were getting desperate. Then I had a brainwave. A framed picture of the three of us. The lads thought it was great and Shamie said we could get a frame made up with ‘Who’s Your Mammy’ underneath. We went into Mickey McHale’s. He is the town photographer and he happened to have a great picture of me in the window. It was the game against Fermanagh and shows me tumbling to the ground following a horrific assault. We got a penalty for it and I can still feel the impact.
He showed us a few posing possibilities and said we’d be great posers. We were chuffed. We picked the white shirts on the white sofa with the cuddly toys. Then his daughter asked us did we want make-up. Meself and Shamie looked at each other and were about to tell her what to do with her blusher when Conor was in the chair in a flash asking for some foundation. He worries us sometimes. We decided to go for a black and white shot as Conor still has a few zits and my nose was flaring up with a light head cold. It took about an hour to get it right but the finished picture was pretty awesome even if I say so myself. Mick’s daughter said she hadn’t seen a better family shot since the Munsters. I don’t know who they are but we were well pleased. Shamie picked a big silver frame with hearts on it and we got ‘Who’s Your Mammy’ engraved on it in pink – Conor’s insistence. It looked really good.
We put a big red bow on it and some green wrapping paper and headed home happy out. Mammy was at bingo when we got there and Daddy asked to see what we got. Shamie carefully undid the wrapping and showed him the picture. Will she like it? he asked Daddy. ‘Oh she will alright. She will, she will. Well Holy God but that’s my life’s work just there – in black and white – an eternal reminder.’ With that he started welling up, I could see the tears. I didn’t know he could be so emotional. ‘Where should we hang it?’ I asked him. He thought for a minute and then said it slowly, twice, ‘Facing the wall bucks, facing the wall.’