Jackie G. Lyndley:The Price of Material Things

The exterior of Wordsley Hospital, 27th May 2005. Photo taken by Colin Middleton

It’s the 70s. I am about four-years-old and an inquisitive child. As an only child, having a great imagination is a must. I live in Wolverhampton and am playing quietly in the living room. My dad is at the table reading the newspaper. Suddenly a thought strikes me.

“Daddy, what does my Mummy look like? I can’t remember her.”

He looks at me with a shocked expression.

My mum is a nurse at Wordsley Hospital, and she is always working. She wakes me up early in the morning to take me to my grandparents. It’s dark and I’m still sleepy. When Daddy finishes work he brings me home and I’m usually in bed asleep before she gets back.

I hear the front door open.

“There’s your Mummy now, she’s home early!”

I rush excitedly to the top of the stairs. A very pretty woman is coming through the door looking tired, sleepy and sad.

“That’s my Mummy,” I think to myself, but something is missing. It is just a word, no different to saying a friend had come to visit. The word Mummy, I felt, should have had meaning — an emotion attached to it, but there was none. She was just a woman called Mummy. It confused me.

Years later, I found out that my dad had told my mum of the event. She was utterly devastated to know that I could not remember what she looked like and cried for days. Mum worked long hard shifts to make ends meet. Nurses were so poorly paid back then.

After that, Mum changed the department she worked in so that she could spend more time with me. She realised that trying to amass as much money as possible to give me the best start in life, and all the things that she never had, was costing us both dear; a price she wasn’t willing to pay, and did not know that she was already paying. Her drive to provide me with the best was no different to what most loving parents want and do for their children.

I saw more of my mum after that. We played in the park together and fed the ducks. She taught me to read and write before starting school, and we sang nursery rhymes. Mum wasn’t the best singer, in fact I think she invented some new notes, but we still had great fun together.

It was then that I learnt the meaning of the word ‘Mummy’ and finally felt the emotion behind it — unconditional love.

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