Mothers

Saint Bede’s Day, the eighth year in the regin of King Richard

It isn’t often I think of my mother. Johanna. Her hair was black, as is mine. I remember it shining blue in the sunlight, framing her oval face like a veil. She seemed tall but my memories of her are from the mind of a six-year-old and so even the servants were tall, stern, and imposing. My mother was anything but stern. How can she be other than a graceful Madonna in my eyes? It is her soft smiles that I try to recall; the kisses when I wept from a scraped knee; the quiet nights before the fire with my brothers and sister, rather than that last dreadful memory.

It was so long ago now. I can’t quite remember the music of her voice. It is mingled with a sensory memory of the aroma of spiced cider and warm almond cakes, the touch of her hand stroking my hair. Perhaps in the back of my mind I hear a soft lullaby, an almost mournful tune half-heard, half-remembered. Is it true? Is it real?

I am not the only orphan in London, to be sure. I merely have to look over at young Jack to recall it, though his memories are surely nearer the surface being so short a time away. I think he said he was eight when his mother died and he is eleven or so now. But can a child truly remember aught?

My father was absent as was Jack’s. Is it more sore a thing when a boy loses his mother than if a girl loses her? Softness is lost from his life until a wife fills it again. And though many may argue it, I am of the belief that a man needs softness if but to remember that there can be such in the world.