A short few lines about de Ma, because yesterday was the first Mother’s day in my life without a mother. The photograph above says it all really. She was always hovering in the background of my life even when she was not in a leading role. A constant presence. Mothers are a bit like the Fates. They weave the threads of your destiny, for good or ill, and they are as subtle about it as an anvil in a sight gag from an old slapstick comedy.
In the modern business world you will hear a lot of guff spoken about “Corporate Values” which reflect the “DNA of the Company”. Values are things that people have. Not corporations. If there are values in a corporation they are the values of the senior managers in that corporation. If those managers recruit staff with similar values this can make it seem like the company has a set of coherent values.
The truth is values are fed to you by your mother with every bite of bread, every spoonful of oatmeal and every sip of juice. She spreads values on you with sunscreen and antiseptic. She dabs them on with drops of iodine on scratched knees. She interviews you about your friends, then she interviews your friends, and their parents too. She ingrains you with attitudes to the most basic things in life, such as hard work, sick leave, ownership, permission, self-respect, equality, charity, religion, education, racism, xenophobia, curiosity, danger etc etc.
If you are in a company and they decide to “introduce a set of corporate values” ask them how long they plan to take over this exercise. 1 Year? 5 Years? How many of your personal values were nailed down by the age of 5? And that was with 100% devotion from your mother. How can a company even hope to put a scratch on the values embedded in staff by their mothers for over 20 years? Or 30 years? Or 40 years? Because let me tell you, Mother does not stop just because you got married and bought your own house.
De Ma can be a right interfering oul’ witch, sticking her nose into everything, still trying to run your life long after she has any right to do so. Until she passes away and leaves a great big gaping hole where all that interference used to be, and you realize how much you miss it.
In Memory of My Mother; by Patrick Kavanagh
I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily
Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday –
You meet me and you say:
‘Don’t forget to see about the cattle – ‘
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.
And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life –
And I see us meeting at the end of a town
On a fair day by accident, after
The bargains are all made and we can walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.
O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is a harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us – eternally.