Just before lock down my daughter-in-law asked me what my mother was like. What a searching question I thought. My mother died in 1979 aged 57 in a tragic accident long before either of my daughters-in-law could have met her. And it was searching because I realized with a shock that I have never properly reflected on her nor my father. I mean properly reflected on their stories and contrasting life experiences. I owe so much to these two people and yet I have devoted so little time to thinking about who they were.
Two things struck me. First, how little I knew about them for sure. Yes I have birth and death certificates and a few photographs and bits of memorabilia along with my own experiences of them growing up. But so many critical issues about their lives are blanks. Second, I realized how little I had troubled to ask them about themselves while I could. It would have been so easy on the walks we had together or relaxing at home to have asked key questions about the different stages of their lives, the decisions they took, and what perspectives they had on their own upbringing.
Sadly, it's too late to ask but I have resolved during these past weeks to make space for reflection with what material I have! Indeed, beginning with their stories I have also attempted to reflect on my own early years - and Carol's. It's been an adventure in recovering and assessing memories. Gradually, with a target of a page each day, the story has been building through the weeks. I call it 'A Weird Life' for reasons that I might share in a future post. The only people likely to read it are my own family - it's personal with little serious research and inevitable flaws. But when people ask what I have been doing the last ten weeks, this is one of the answers. For me its been an exercise in appreciation.