I’m dipping into my recently scanned slides for this post, for images that bring back wonderful memories of mother, father, grandparents and other family members.
My grandmother was the glue that kept her whole family together. She liked nothing better than have her family around her. Wednesdays were her ‘at home’ day, and any family members who could manage along were welcomed with hugs and wide smiles. Sometimes, in summer months, the fare was salad, but more usually it was my grandmother’s elastic meal – mince and macaroni. The earlier you arrived the more mince was ladled onto your plate, the later you made an appearance the more macaroni.
But none of us went for the food. We went to keep up with family news, plan events such as a family birthday or Christmas parties, and to go home with a bagful of vegetables from my grandfather’s allotment.
My grandmother had three daughters and a son, with another son dying in infancy. Although his name was James, he was always referred to as Robin as my grandmother said a robin sang on the window sill the morning he was born and the morning he died.
My mother was the third daughter, with her brother the youngest, and my young life revolved around them. My father’s family wasn’t as close, though we occasionally saw them, but never all together, except at funerals.
I have wonderful memories of helping my mother prepare for family parties. I was usually assigned to cleaning and polishing cutlery, peeling potatoes and preparing other vegetables, making trifles with thick slices of jam roll spread with homemade raspberry jam, moistened with sweet sherry bought specially for the purpose, layered with tinned fruit, covered with custard and topped with a thick layer of cream sprinkled with grated chocolate. Some of these photos taken on my twenty-first birthday show how much I enjoyed family parties.
Of all my aunts and uncles, only my mother’s sister-in-law is still around, and my parents both died some years ago – a sobering reminder of how fleeting are the good times, and indeed our lives.
So today it’s good to look at my scanned slides and remember not just my mother but other women important in my life. They helped make me what I am, and for that I am truly grateful.