August 14th, 2007
My earliest memories of mum are of her busily engaged in the kitchen either producing delicious meals, cooking up mouth-watering jams or bottling fruit from her garden. She and my dad were both keen gardeners - my dad’s passion being the fruit & veg. and mum’s the flowers. There were always lovely flowers particularly outside the kitchen where she could see them when she was washing up. If she wasn’t in the kitchen she would be in her sewing room upstairs, either knitting school jumpers for us on her machine or sewing everything from full-length coats for me or herself to summer dresses. If not there, she would be knitting intricate patterns in front of the TV at night, never anything plain - too boring. She had a very active and practical mind and couldn’t sit ‘doing nothing’ - this would be a waste of time. While engaged in housework, she would sing with her excellent operatic voice and she loved her classical record collection and today - her videos and DVDs! If she did sit down for a bit, she would attempt the Telegraph crossword - this she still does, aged 88! At Christmas she would get really excited when the family came to visit and even more delicious food would issue from the kitchen. On Christmas Day traditionally, everyone wore their best clothes and I have an image which stays with me of one year how glamorous she looked with hair carefully coiffed and wearing a stunning blue dress with tight sleeves and a wide neck with high heels and her best necklace and earrings. She and my dad did not socialise beyond close family and so these were occasions to be made the most of. Today she still keeps her own house and cooks lunch every day for her and my dad. The stairs are getting a bit much for both of them, but with all their aches and pains, going up and down all day forces them to be active. The reason they are still independent is because they live next door to my brother and his family and so have the security and help they need on hand. I shall be with them by this week-end as my brother is taking his family camping for a couple of weeks during the long summer holidays. I am taking a couple of bits of material and patterns with me and shall see what gardening can be done after all the floods. In between, mum and I will sit and enjoy our favourite TV shows together. Perhaps we’ll watch all mum’s Jane Austen videos again, or Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers, or our best - 12 episodes of To the Manor Born. Maybe even a new favourite, Richard Gere’s, Shall We Dance? That’s if one of us can remember how to work the DVD!