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Remembering Sally

Sally was my mother. Today would have been her 68th birthday, but she died in July 1992 of complications from cancer. She hated the cold, and loved the warmth of Kenya. I was reminded quite how much she liked the heat when my father sent me some snaps he had of the time when we lived in Kenya, in the late 1960s.

Here is my little sister, Sophie, with Sally. Sophie’s hair is still blonde, but not quite as fair as it was then.

Here is the whole family, my father Alan, then me, then Sally and Sophie. I do remember the dog’s name, but it’s the answer to a security question, so I shall keep it private.

Finally, here I am siting on my mother’s lap. It looks as though she was reading to me while we were having tea. I think the plasters on my knee were new, so I may have been in need of some comfort. I’m afraid I don’t remember the ayah’s name, much to my shame, but I was less than five years old when we left Kenya.

I wish I could remember more about what Sally liked about Kenya. I’ve already mentioned the warmth. I also know that she enjoyed playing tennis, and I inherited her Dunlop racket when I started playing tennis when I was eleven.

When I was very young, and we were back in the UK, I can remember that she played the piano a great deal. I remember a lot of Beethoven sonatas. Later, after she contracted multiple sclerosis, she found that her fingers wouldn’t do what she wanted to, which meant that she played a lot less. She would still accompany both Sophie and me as we played the violin and cello respectively, or when I sang. Sally was always very proud of our (Sophie’s and mine) accomplishments. I particularly remember one evening when I was nearly nineteen years old. I had sat the Oxford entrance exam, then left school to take up a gap year job 150 miles from home. The letter was sent home, so my mother sat waiting for me to get home from work and phoned me at one minute past six. Her voice was trembling when she told me what she was holding. “Go on, then,” I said, “open it.” She did, and whooped, as the letter started with “I am pleased…” I am certain she was happier than I was that evening, and I know that the achievement was celebrated with some earnestness that evening. It still makes me smile to think about how happy she was that day.

If you have happy memories of my mother to share, please write about one of them in a comment. I’d love to know how you think of her.

{ 6 } Comments

  1. Sophie Jarrett | 29 January 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Oh Chris too many to mention. Everything about her is missed, everything she misses is heartbreaking. Still hurts. Hey ho and ho hum what can I say.

    Keep going big brother and I’ll keep reading.

    Just a thought for the weekend – What if the Hokey Cokey IS what it’s all about?????


  2. icyjumbo | 29 January 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Hmm. I don’t know. If so, I guess I’d be all shook up or something.

  3. Anne Chalk | 30 January 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    So many memories, & I still ‘talk’ to her frequently. ‘La di da di splodge crunch’, as Handel’s Largo from the Water Music was once rendered by a church organist when we were on holiday in Cornwall still makes me laugh.

  4. icyjumbo | 30 January 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I remember ‘La di da di splodge crunch’ too. I can hear it now, if I think about it. It also reminds me of the recorder piece that Peter played (it used to be used as the Today theme) that was ‘La-diddle-diddle-diddle-damn!’ as he always missed the last not of the descending scale.

    Gillian and I once went to the wedding of a couple of friends where the music was played by a relative of the bride. The memorable description of the organist was “wonderfully approximate.” I’m sure you can imagine how painful an experience that was. I would have loved to have shared that with Sally too.

    Once last thought: “Do you talk horse?”

  5. Anne Chalk | 30 January 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Funnily enough, Peter mentioned that again only the other day!
    Do you remember making profiteroles here? Your mother was so proud of you for that (as, indeed, she was about everything you did.)

  6. icyjumbo | 30 January 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid I don’t remember it. I was probably showing off, as they’re really quite easy. Most of my cooking is like that, actually. I was inspired by the cook-book Sally gave me when I first left home: The Slut’s Cook Book, by Erin Pizzey. But the profiterole recipe came from Delia Smith.

    I have a friend, Carol, whose description of making choux pastry I still love, and still use. When you shoot the flour into the butter and water mixture, you “beat like buggery” 🙂

    Gillian says that I still make really nice profiteroles, by the way. Which reminds me, I must try again soon …