Monday, February 2, 2009

In Memoriam




Today is the tenth anniversary of my mother's death, which seems absurd; even this far down the track I am shocked by how vividly present she seems, as though her death were much less big a deal than we thought.

This is my favourite photo of her; judging by the length of her hair she can't be any older than seventeen, but her stance and expression and the way she's holding that unidentified child all suggest the confidence and maturity of a woman twice that age.

That wild hair is blazing dark-copper red, and she had it cut when she joined the WAAAF RAAF at eighteen in 1945. So if I'm right about the date of this photo, it's 1944 and she's already seen a Depression childhood, three years in the workforce and five years of world war. They grew up fast in those days.

UPDATE -- well well, I find she wasn't in the WAAAF at all -- she was a fully fledged Aircraftwoman in the RAAF. And you think you know them!

8 comments:

Deborah said...

I may be wrong, and forgive me if I am. It sounds as though you miss her very badly. I know that nearly 30 years later, my mother still misses her mother, even though they were not that close.

It is indeed a lovely photo of her. It has a sense of Pavlov's Cat about it - independent, confident, capable, without being steeled to meet the world, just able and resilient.

ThirdCat said...

I was taken by surprise at how difficult my mum's ten year anniversary was - grief is just so complex. You think you've got a handle on it, then you find a whole new layer you never even thought about. It's the depth of it, I think - like you look up and think, 'oh, they really aren't coming home'. And of course you always knew that they weren't, but you understand it in a different way.

And so close to your dad's birthday too! Can I suggest a contemplative chilled fox creek or two?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Deborah -- *blush*. Yes, I do miss her (although as I say, I also have a strong sense of her presence, not to be woo about it or anything). I wish I were more like her, particularly in the matter of housework.

ThirdCat, the Fox Creek is a damn fine idea. A damn fine idea.

Actually there's also the Laphroiag I got for Christmas, but I'd need to be a bit careful there.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

I still miss my mother very much.

Mainly I miss the things we could have done if she had lived longer. Like go to musicals together.

It always saddens me that I have lived longer already than she did.

Fine said...

That generation was tough wasn't it? My Mum also lived through the depression and war. Lied about her age to join the Army. Lucky Mum's still going strong. Cheers to your Mum, PC.

Zoe said...

You make me scared of the blubbering mess I'll be - for god knows how long - when my mother dies.

Pavlov's Cat said...

FXH, that's not fair -- I had mine till I was 45, at least, which is a fair old run really. Fine, that's excellent, glad yours is still going strong, as is my dad -- the first words I heard when I got out of the car yesterday with his 82nd birthday cake were 'Well, I feel 72. If that.' He looked it, too.

Zoe, yes, the blubbering-mess thing cannot be avoided or denied, but be warned that it sneaks up on you at odd times -- when you catch a glimpse of her handwriting or a breath of her perfume. In the short-term aftermath I was more of a "have a little bit of a breakdown in Barcelona where you have to give a seminar and then fly to Austria where you have to teach summer school for a month, during which Mothers' Day, her birthday and your birthday will all fall within the space of a week" mess, really. Did you know that in Austria they make a monumental fuss of Mothers' Day? Big pink celebrations of Mutti in the shop windows everywhere you freaking turn.

Lefty E said...

Lovely pic, Pav. Its 11 years since my old man died, before his time. I miss him unpredictably as well, at odd times. I still riff with him in my head frequently. He lived larger than the rest, and therefore, sadly, shorter. I suppose I aim to be somewhat more boring, for my daughter's sake.