Wednesday 8 July 2020


On 29th May my lovely Mum, Jean, passed away. That was 40 days ago. Today would have been her 86th birthday and I wish she was here to celebrate it. It just seems unbelievable that she is not. In the last few weeks of her life, she spent a lot of time reminiscing, telling me stories of her family and her childhood. She said that she had had a good life and I am so happy that is how she felt. She gave me and my brother and sister a good life too, and I am grateful that she was my Mum. I don't think I am yet ready to admit that she has gone, but I suppose that will come. For the moment I write her a little note each day about the kinds of things we would have talked about in our daily phone calls during lock down. I kind of hope she can hear me. I have her hard drive with lots of photos on, many of which I don't think I have seen. It has made me feel close to her looking through them and I am sharing a few here. The picture below is mine though, taken as I was leaving after a lunch out in our favourite cafe in Headcorn. Her cat Bertie is looking out of the window, waiting for her to come back inside. 
 This is Mum and her sister Vera. They look so serious. Mum always said she didn't like having her photo taken, and I think that she looks like that is what she is thinking in this picture. 
This is Mum, her friend Beryl, and Vera. I am not sure who the men are. 
 Here they are again with Beryl's bike I presume, as it is far too big for Mum or Vera. Mum was a racing cyclist in her youth, and many of her friends from that time were friends for life.
The Lady at the back sitting down is my Nana Lena. I think the baby is Mum. The man on the left sitting down is my Grandad William. He died young so I didn't know him. My Mum talked about him a lot so I feel like I did a little. 
This is a great photo my Mum took in the garden of my brother's house in the countryside. He found Bert and Ernie, the two cats at the back, as kittens, abandoned under a hedge. He adopted them, and then when he couldn't look after them anymore, they went to live with Mum. When Antony lived here, there was a kind of cat club in his garden, of about six cats who, amazingly, didn't mind each other's company. The crazy racing grey cat is called Berlioz.
 The two photos below are in the grounds of Leeds castle. My Mum got membership of the castle so she could go for walks in the grounds, and did that for a long time. More recently, my sister got married there, and Mum loved that day. We went there together for a day out last year, after the wedding, and Mum pointed out the freshwater oysters that are in the stream pictured. I was amazed.

About ten years ago, my brother went travelling, and he kept in daily touch with Mum, as he has done for many years. He sent her photos, and she really enjoyed following his travels and seeing the many places he went and people he met. This painting is from one of his photos. Mum went to an art class for many years, and painted so many pictures. She kept detailed albums of her work and loved her time there. Her teacher Cheryl is an amazing artist, but not the most organised person, so Mum used to organise the exhibitions the art class put on. I remember discussions about how we couldn't believe that Ofsted were interested in a group of pensioners doing art for enjoyment, and the career opportunities they might gain from the class! Cheryl the teacher had the same feelings about Ofsted that I do, mainly fear. 
 This is Mum with my cousin Nicky. I love this picture. 
 This is me, Jane and Antony with Nana. We used to visit this pub on Sheppey at Harty Ferry with Nana and my cousins and always had a lovely time.
 This is Nana too, and I thought this was a lovely picture as well. 
The last thing is this video. It is one I took at my brother's-the same house in the country. My Mum is on there and it was a good day. 


Linda Sue said...

oh Sarah, this is such a lovely wonderful good post. I am so sorry. I love the photo of your mother with the cat in the window, that is the Mum I remember, with such loving fondness. Your Mum charmed me utterly, I miss her. I, too, talk with her, in my head. Yesterday we made banana bread and ate it with two cups of tea. Much love to you,
thank you for introducing me to your Mum and for
Christmas, @
Antony's house.
One of my best all time memories.

The painting is exquisite.

Fresca said...

I am so very, very sorry you've lost your mum, Sarah.
That's a powerful loss.

She looks absolutely wonderful in this collection of photos.
So much life! So much history!

A racing cyclist? That's fantastic.

I'm especially struck by how gently and tenderly she is supporting that adorable baby, your cousin Nicky! What a squeezable child. Your mother looks like one of the row of tulips.

(I wonder what toy she is holding in her hand there. Looks like a knitted dolly, maybe? Irrelevant, but I can't help noticing toys--and how sweet she is holding it.)

The cat photo is priceless. One cat doing zoomies, the other flat as a pancake. It seems your family has a special bond with cats?
And a flair for art.

I love that you are writing your mother notes. What a kind and loving connection.
When a much-older friend of mine was dying ten years ago, I told her I'd always tell her things for the rest of my life. Keep her up with the latest going-ons in my life. I've never stopped.

She had a good life, and she brought goodness to the lives of others.
That's a great tribute, to be able to say that.

My condolences. Fresca

Steve Reed said...

Once again, I'm so sorry about your loss. These are wonderful photos and it's great you found them and have been able to go through them. Her painting is beautiful! (Now I see where your artistic nature comes from. :) ) And yes, that cat photo is priceless, as is the one of your mom and your cousin. What a nice portrait.

Sarah said...

Thank you for your lovely words Fresca.

Sarah said...

Thank you Linda Sue and Steve, and for your kind support over recent weeks.

Fresca said...

SARAH: The red-hair girlettes said they would ALL like go live with you and your toys! (There are 18... or is it 19?)

She lost her mum, they said.
(They think that "losing" someone means you misplaced them at a museum, like an umbrella.)

Penny Cooper said some of them are needed here too. (TRUE)
And also, there's the film to be made.
Much discussion ensued.
I don't know who they will choose to go, but I'm sure it will the best choice.

My email is frescadp at gmail, if you want to give me your address.

Shell said...

Sending love to you and your family during this sad time. I am close to my mom. She is 84. I cherish that she is with me. It is lovely that you write daily notes to your mom. Remember she is always with you, Sarah. Take care, my friend.