Saturday, July 20, 2013
Mother on a Rant
Mother has been on a rant for most of this week. Even Pippa, the frou-frou dog, has spent most of her time hiding under the dining room table.
As for me I must admit to a certain degree of cowardice, not that under most conditions I am a coward. Being under fire in a Vietnamese jungle is qualitatively different than being under fire from Mother on a rant. One is only bullets, the other is a firestorm. The result is that I have spent an inordinate amount of time puttering in the garden trimming several varieties of roses and pulling weeds. I have a fondness for the simplicity of the Carpet Red Rose, one of the new varieties of shrub roses.
What set Mother off on a rant was her conversation with Agnes Findlay, our Scottish housekeeper. Agnes is no wilting rose herself and is not easily cowed; not even by Mother. Agnes is very direct. Originally I had suggested to Mother that she talk to Grace Whittington knowing that Grace would be more gentle, but Mother is Mother and she will do what she will do and there’s no doing anything about it.
Some of what transpired slipped out at breakfast this morning. I was spreading a little Wilkin and Sons Tiptree Rhubarb and Ginger Conserve on my buttered crumpet this morning when Mother interrupted my reverie with a sudden outburst.
“Jesus as personal Saviour!” Mother muttered with emphatic disgust. “That’s perfectly fine for people like Agnes Findlay!” With that she savagely speared a slice of Lorne sausage with her fork before continuing, “After all what should I expect from an uneducated Scottish housekeeper?”
I looked cautiously across the table and perceived that Mother was not looking in my direction, but was directing her remarks to the Dualit Toaster on our breakfast table. The toaster was happily oblivious. With that I decided that being, at least in appearance, oblivious was the wisest course of action.
Mother rapped sharply on the table with her knuckles and said, “Alfred! I have decided to try Christian Science. I think that Mary Baker Eddy was right. There is no evil, and disease is all in your head.”
I looked up to see Mother staring impatiently in my direction. I replied, “Well, Mother, then what do we do with some of those people that your cousin Angelo does business with? It seems that things are a little more complicated than Mary Baker Eddy might think.”
“Alfred!” snapped Mother, “If I wanted your opinion I would have asked for it!” and with that she stormed out of the room leaving her piece of Lorne sausage untouched on her plate.”
I sat for a few minutes pondering and decided on a two-fold course of action. I reverently ate her piece of Lorne sausage, and retired to the garden to trim the roses. What occurred to me, was a line from that Frances Thompson poem, The Hound of Heaven. In his poem he speaks of the discomfort of being pursued by God. “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; / I fled Him, down the arches of the years; / I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways / Of my own mind,” and then, “Halts by me that footfall: / Is my gloom, after all, / Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?” It’s a difficult thing to be pursued by God. I should know!
With that a sharp thorn pierced my finger and I immediately I thought of Mother, “Every rose has its thorn; but I do so love roses.”
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?”- Psalm 139:7-8