There are many things I inherited from my mother. My fondness for a fireplace, that look I get when I don't really like something but will understand and put up with it anyway, my short stature. But more than that I got an ability to embrace change, when really all you want is to sit, in front of the fire, watching your favourite program on the TV, sipping tea like it is sweet comfort.
My mother grew up in less than prosperous circumstances in the terraces and tenements of post-war Edinburgh, raising two younger brothers, learning how not to parent (one egg and a pint of milk does not a dinner of scrambled eggs make!) and developing a passion for a life more comfortable.
My Dad came to her, with careless feet and Buddy Holly looks and a plan to go to Australia. A plan of which she wanted no part, but ended up buying, partly because my father was so persistent but also, more simply, because she loved him. As she stepped on that boat (plane travel wasn't for ordinary people then) she was leaving her friends, family, possibly believing she might not ever see them again. But she managed to pull her much yearned for comfort from the thought that 'she was saying goodbye to the cold and snow forever!
Move forward twenty years and still living in Sydney Australia, my mum has built a routine which enabled her to build and maintain a house, sing in the choir, coach softball and raise three children while working full time. Washing at our place was done everyday (towels on a Thursday, sheets on a Saturday) except Sunday, and there was satisfaction in just having it done. It is in the height of my Mum's new found comfort that my dad announces plans to build his own boat and sail it around Australia. And so, again, she gives up everything. But, through the churn of the storm and the flatline of the doldrums she pulls comfort from the maintenance of her routines. Dinner at six, lunch at 12, the floor gets swept everyday regardless.
It takes a special person to embrace adventure, when your sole ambition is for the comfort of quiet life. But hasn't my mother had some experiences as a result. She's coached a winning softball team, sailed alongside a pod of dolphins, risen on the king tides of Western Australia, traversed Bass Strait, driven to almost every lookout to Australia, written a book, learned to cook (and then not cook) proper scrambled eggs - with cheese. She has experienced things, held ambitions for her children, that a poor girl from Edinburgh should never have been allowed.
It is a very special talent to pull comfort from the most uncomfortable of circumstances, but this is my mother, this is her special skill, and I really, really hope I've inherited it.