A Sort of Happy New Year


My mother’s wedding photograph was unique in one degree only: she was smiling from the heart outward and it showed in her eyes. Looking up at my father she clearly had found and married the man of her dreams and was floating along on those warm winds we believe originate in Paradise.

What made that remarkable was I never saw her smile face to face in my company: her wedding occurring, as was the custom of the age, a year or two before she began to have children; I only knew her when she was already a woman of resigned or even sour experience. My father was killed in a freak accident when I was three and my younger sister only a year old: it changed my mother forever.

To add colour to the picture I will tell you one of her favourite sayings, “Luck is a matter of chance, death a matter of fact” a remark, which hardly lifts the spirits of the young or troops on the eve of battle.

Continuing the military theme she observed, “Life is a battle which you ultimately lose:” another inspiring observation. She was, to all intents and purposes, a prophet of gloom, who counselled constantly against reckless optimism or euphoria. She was a successful author in her own way, but not to a degree which gave her any satisfaction.

I loved her because she was the only mother I had, but with her I found love was an emotion without children: she was protected against the weakness of joy by observation. Nothing in her research led her to believe that we, as a species, might feel any sense of optimism on a personal or genetic level which was founded on anything but the human need for hope or a general sentimentality.

I am not saying she was right or wrong, but her outlook on life impregnated every aspect of my childhood until I thought euphoria was the precursor to damnation. That girl I kissed in the park in a moment of pagan connection could not draw me into sunlight because, where laughter was concerned, my mother always kept the curtains drawn.

I would say her customary expression was non-committal: “Non-committal” also became my outlook on the everyday. She told me once in conversation, “I entered this life unwelcomed and will leave unnoticed.” Her passive body added, “Do not look to me for strategy, do not look to me for kindness, I have no sense of such things: all I offer you is the recognition that if you are sad you are not alone. I am sad also.” She lived a life largely in shadow and I am the guardian of her barren inheritance.

Severity became her natural outlook, but within that outlook she had a peculiar and original sense of humour. Robbed of life at an unfashionably young age by septicaemia as another year came to its close, she beckoned me to within hearing range of her exhausted body and spoke her final phrase, “Happy New Year”

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in creative writing, Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to A Sort of Happy New Year

  1. The Bioman says:

    Wow talk about Christmas Cheer!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heavy! But a very happy new year to you, Peter!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sabiscuit says:

    Have a great 2016, Peter. xo

    Like

  4. catterel says:

    Oh, I do really and truly hope that this is all the product of your imagination and not based on actual personal experience – though no doubt at all that this particular character has existed many times. A happy new year to you and yours, Peter .

    Like

    • Oh do not worry. It came out of a dark strand of humour, and I actually made myself laugh at the end so, odd possibly, but not a reflection of my life or todays plans which involve a slightly more than standard amount of drinking in the company of friends. Hope you and yours have a lovely New Years yourselves 🙂

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  5. gotham girl says:

    Oh so touching…I love the phrase “my mother always kept the curtains drawn…” Such symbolism for many I’m sure. Glad to read this will not be reflected in your celebrations this evening!! Happy New Year Peter…I adore your talents and so look forward to more in 2016!🍾

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  6. I remain a fan, albeit an increasingly irregular reader (and blogger), of your phrasing and observations on life. Happy 2016 🙂

    Like

  7. I am relieved to see in previous comments that this is, at least to some extent, a fictionalization. Talk about a downer. I can only wonder if you is a negative or a realist, but by the end I was definitely pushed toward negative, save the last ironic line.

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    • It is pretty much total fictionalization, to be honest, and I just liked the idea of a total pessimist leaving this life after wishing someone a “Happy New Year.” Put it down to eccentric British humour. Wishing you a very happy New Year, and I look forward to more of your posts in 2016 🙂

      Like

  8. authormbeyer says:

    I, too, find this piece touchingly, tragically, comic. I love the twist at the end and the way you paint pictures with words, not on the surface only, but in the deepening depths.

    Like

  9. We are but the sum of our experiences – or are they the sum of us? I like how your ‘mother’ both wallows and revels in her pessimism. As you say, Peter, very ‘English’. Happy New Year!

    Like

  10. ksbeth says:

    i loved your character’s moment of humorous redemption. happy new year, peter !

    Like

  11. Scarlet says:

    Happy New Year!!! Throw the curtains wide!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A fabulous character! My goodness me! There’s a novel there waiting… Like most of your stuff, I wish I’d written this posting! Happy New Year!

    Like

  13. Al says:

    As a pragmatist of some renown myself, at least within the fraternity of my own family, I believe I would have found a likable companion in this woman.

    Like

  14. I bet she had a wicked dry wit!

    Like

  15. Exquisite satire – worthy of some of the best coming out of the British Isles…

    Like

  16. **I entered this life unwelcomed and will leave unnoticed.”**

    Unnoticed? N E V E R!!!!!!!

    Happy 2016!! xxx

    Like

  17. michele says:

    I am so grateful that this is not your experience, however as i read along I was thinking, hmmmm, this sounds amazingly like my mother. Ahhh well, it is a choice that I do not follow in her footsteps. Bless you in 2016. 🙂

    Like

  18. Glynis Jolly says:

    Your description was extremely vivid. Well done.

    Like

  19. I think I would have liked your mother. Her quotes are almost tongue-in-cheek rather than serious. Like that Twitter feed, “S*** my Dad says”.

    Like

  20. Shonnie says:

    Lovely start to the new year!

    Like

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