This day has special meaning for me and always will have. No explanation needed, just the excerpt from my diary of 1985.
'The birthday of Mary Elizabeth Stevens, my mother. An incredible, independent, stubborn, beautiful fighter. What do I remember thirty two years on?
I remember a little, busy woman, working, often, almost always working. preparing school meals, cleaning for the rich, cleaning our home for her pride. I remember shopping in Derby at Cheshires, an old family business, returning usually with 'yellow fish' or pyclets, two favourites that we could ill afford.
I remember a home maybe lacking in the trappings of wealth, but a happy home, scrupulously clean. We lived in three different houses until Mary died in 1953. Try as I might, only fleeting memories can be retrieved. A cherry lady ornament in a window, cherries held aloft invitingly but never consumed. a Westminster chimes clock, erratic in its timekeeping. A pot cat with amazing long neck and amusing expression. a black leaded dog, almost certainly a Scottie. Sweets lovingly made from flour, cocoa and other forgotten ingredients. Rather secretive visits to her nightwatchman friend, also named Stevens, the nearest Mary came to romance as a hardworking widow, mother of two. similarly secretive visits to Stockbrook Street, home of Ernest Steven's sister, Elsie. (An area rating lowly in most eyes, similarly rated in the eyes of the Hudstons.) Strange days, long ago days, but happy days nevertheless.'
I was of course only thirteen when my mother died. And this diary was written twenty five years ago; where do the years go. Some of this diary excerpt is no doubt unintelligible to 'outsiders'. But I bet few can claim an extended family devoid of problems or complications. We might think we are 'in control' of our little insignificant lives in the short term, but make no mistake, over a lifetime we are 'in the lap of the gods' so to speak. We are what we are, moulded by experiences often beyond our control.