I used to think that it was really tough of my dad to expect me, at age 18 (in 1958), to be home at 8:30 in the evenings on Thursday and Friday nights, so that my mother would feel secure in the house with my little sister. This had been the requirement for a number of years, and it included Tuesday and Sunday nights as well.

The reason for this ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ was this: My father ran a two-up school in Melbourne. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday nights were the nights the ‘school’ operated. Dad would leave home at 8:30 and would not return until around three the next morning.

He simply insisted that I be home before he left.

I remember one evening when I was home at the appointed hour, only to abscond after his departure. Unfortunately my timing was lousy, because he returned about an hour later to find that I was an absentee son. My mother knew where I would be, so she sent my little sister to tell me that I should return home ‘in haste’. When I arrived I was greeted by a ‘not-happy-Leo’ father. It was only the second time in my life when my father responded physically, albeit very mildly. I was about fifteen at the time.

I have never asked my mother (she is 86 now and I am 62 )if she really was nervous in the house without a male, and although it seemed unreasonable at the time, I never resented my mother’s need for my presence. I knew that she felt for me. All my mates were out having ‘fun’ and I was at home (no TV until ’56) with mum and my little sister. Mum and I have maintained a very strong mother/son relationship, for which I thank my dad. He passed on in 1980 at the age of 64.

There were other requirements as well, and I mean requirements, not just requests. On the evenings that I could remain out late, I was expected to come into my parents’ room and kiss my mother before going to bed; no matter what time I arrived home. This was a ‘tradition’: my father always kissed his mother before going to bed up until the day she died.

Dad’s mum lived with us in North Melbourne, and dad would go quietly into her room at 3 or 4 am in the morning and give his mother a kiss. One morning, when bending over his aged mother to deliver the ritual — loving son’s good-morning-I’m-home-safely-from-the-two-up kiss, he discovered that she had passed away.

In many ways kissing between mother and son, or between father and son, has become unfashionable in this day and age. But love is never out of fashion. It is a way to honour those we love that can never be replaced. You are never too young to learn and never too old to start.

[Photo by Alex Green from Pexels]

About the Author: Leo Talbot

Leo Talbot has 4 daughters and 10 grandchildren and has been happily married for 40 years. He has a background in Strategic Sales and IT.

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