3 March 2016


It is the third of March and my mum's birthday. She'd be 100 if she was still alive but she isn't and in fact she died 25 years ago in 1991, a victim of pancreatic cancer. I can never remember the actual date she passed away but I always remember her birthday. It would be a little wide of the mark to say that I miss her after all this time but I do often wonder what she would have thought about this or that issue.  I know she was very regretful not to see her grandchildren grow up, because she told me so, just before she succumbed. I do occasionally find myself wanting to have a chat with her, or show her something— not often, but from time to time. She left a hole in my father's life, I know that. I think I was less affected by her death at the time because I was experiencing year one of fatherhood, my focus was elsewhere.  It took a while for it to really sink in that the driving force and anchor of my childhood was no longer there.

Kath gave me lots of things, many of which I did not appreciate until years later. I expect that is a fairly common experience, I don't claim anything special about that. To me she was quite an enigma. I always thought she was somewhere she was not destined to be, that circumstances and situations had played her a poor hand. The war truncated a potential career (Kath had a really good singing voice and was a good pianist too) and then her health was not of the best; child bearing did her no favours . . .  she had a strong intellect, not entirely suited to where we as a family lived.  You might even conclude that marriage was not really in her best interests at the time she and my father signed up. The advantages of growing up at the time I did were so marked compared with the limitations and hardships of the majority of ordinary people coming through the war.

Anyway, what is, is. I am not about to list all her virtues, especially not short comings, given my own – or all I have to be grateful to Kath for. I just wanted to mark this day.

Kath would be amused that the marmalade she used to make for lots of people is still being made by at least two of her offspring. As a former graphic designer I have taken to off-the-wall labelling of the marmalade I make and give away — so it seemed a good idea this centennial year to dedicate the production to my mother, who first got me interested in the marmalade making process: that's my label for this year's output, below.

Here's to her memory– thanks, Kath!