Mum and Tom seemed relatively pleased to see me yesterday, in their own ways. Both were asleep when I arrived but unlike Tom, Mum didn’t respond to my greeting by stretching full-length and purring contentedly. That would have knocked me out of my stride. No, Mum’s greeting was a little more restrained but we smiled a lot and laughed a bit, though what the laughter was about I didn’t always know.
What we didn’t do was converse. Sadly, that rarely happens these days. Where has that connection gone? I know the answer to that but it doesn’t stop me wondering how the Mum to whom I was so close, who sometimes seemed to know my thoughts before I did, is now a stranger to me in so many ways.
It’s a lonely, unsettling feeling and one way of coping with it is to turn to Mum’s diaries. As regular readers will know, Mum kept very detailed diaries in the late 50s and early 60s. She might have done so for longer but I only have her collected thoughts from 1958 to 1963. In trying to remember the Mum I grew up with, I take comfort from these often very ordinary musings, which is what I did yesterday. The days around August 19th were often taken up with holidays and on August 19th 1959, Mum was on holiday in Majorca with her friends Carole and Lynne. The holiday didn’t get off to the best start when the plane was five hours late leaving Gatwick but that delay afforded a “marvellous view of Palma by night” as they arrived. So like Mum to turn a potential negative into a positive. There’s nothing much surprising to recount. It was hot or very hot most days and the beach was gorgeous. Then, on Wednesday 19th, her diary reveals that she “had wine with dinner and giggled a lot.” How innocent and yet how comforting those words seem 54 years on. Some more wine seems to have been consumed in the days that followed and there were a few later starts and siestas – these might not have been unconnected events.
I’m probably too fond of reminiscing but these journeys back into Mum’s past help me to re-connect with her. I wonder what she’d write if she was able to keep a diary today. What comes across from her diary of 1959 and the years around then is the pleasure Mum took in the company of friends and in the simple joy of enjoying her surroundings. She might not be able to articulate that now, but I hope that she still feels something similar. Perhaps someone will find this blog in 54 years time and see a portrait of the 76 year old Janice as I connect with the 22 year old.
And I hope they will see that she inspires as much love in 2013 as she did in 1959.
A holiday from the late 50s, possibly Majorca in 1959.