opinion

Mother’s Day a special day to remember a special person

Joe SpagnoloThe West Australian
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Mother’s Day is a day to remember a special person.
Camera IconMother’s Day is a day to remember a special person. Credit: Stock /Adobe

Hopefully today marks the end of what have been some pretty average Mother’s Day celebrations these past two years.

COVID-19 has presented many challenges since 2020.

And certainly, the challenges associated with keeping elderly parents safe — and being able to find new ways of communicating with them in the face of lockdowns — have been enormous.

So today it’s nice to know that Mother’s Day in WA can be celebrated the way it used to be — face to face.

It’s another nice reminder that maybe life is heading towards some semblance of normality.

Anyone who has read my weekly column in The Sunday Times for past 17 years knows I have an Italian Mamma.

They are a special breed these Italian Mamma’s, I reckon.

My mother, Carmela, is a five-foot nothing Italian-Australian who is a soft as butter, but tough as nails.

And she’s hilarious.

I remember going down to Bunbury when COVID first struck, keen to get a quick visit in and make sure she was OK before lockdowns began.

I left the family home that day with loaves of bread, packets of pasta, several bowls of spaghetti sauce, some zucchini fritters, melanzane (eggplant), veal cutlets, milk and some new underwear.

And a $50 note she insisted on giving me for petrol.

She looked at me if as I had lost my mind when I asked her if she would be all right during lockdowns.

My mother had spent much of her life making sure she was prepared for almost any situation.

Two freezers full of food meant she was OK until 2025 — at least.

Her mental strength staggers me.

Even when my father died last year, it was my mother who held us all together.

It was her who reminded me that my father would not have wanted tears, though there were many shed when he passed.

Everyone has a special mother story (or two) they remember throughout their lives.

Mother’s Day is a good time to remember them.

So, if I can indulge, I’d like to share mine.

When I left high school I worked for the ANZ bank for two years before I decided I wanted to become a lawyer.

In many Italian families there are three occupations that signal you’ve ‘made it’ — becoming Pope, a doctor or a lawyer.

Since the job of Pope was taken, my mother settled for her son the lawyer and was deliriously happy when I told her I was leaving for university to study law.

But nearly two years later I received a phone call from the editor of my home paper, the South Western Times, to ask if I’d be interested in a cadetship in journalism.

My heart told me yes.

And so in 1985 I left university to start a journalism cadetship in Busselton.

I packed my belongings, said my goodbyes at uni and drove to the family home in Bunbury, where I broke the news to my mother and father that Joe the Lawyer was instead going to be Joe the Journalist.

After a few seconds of silence, my mother started crying — uncontrollably.

She was wailing.

My mother then turned to my pale-looking father and said: “I told you he was doing drugs. He has lost his mind. What am I going to tell everyone? I’ve told them he is going to be a lawyer.”

I wasn’t doing drugs. But there was no point saying anything at this point.

I just kept sipping my coffee and proceeded with my decision to pursue a career in journalism.

Only a few years ago I discovered my mother had cut out, and kept, all the columns I’d written for The Sunday Times since moving to Perth in 2005.

Apparently, according to my late father, my mother enjoyed the kudos of having the family surname in print every Sunday.

In her eyes, her son the journalist had made it. And so had the family.

To mothers everywhere today, my absolute best and a happy Mother’s Day.

Buona festa della mamma.

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