My mum died thirty years ago today, the latter part of her life beset by illnesses too stubborn for even someone as stubborn and resilient as she to resist. For now, I’d prefer to remember her as I never knew her, the promise of life ahead.
The first of these is clearly a studio portrait, taken, I would guess, when my mum was around 20; the others were taken, I believe, on holiday in Ostend a year or so before the outbreak of World War Two, a year or so before I was born.
That was before we were married, before the war, the year before you were born; I wore my new polka dot dress and your father his white shoes. Nothing could touch us, except each other. We just sat there, staring out, waiting for it all to begin.
They put this photo on display, close to the seafront: the perfect couple. And for as long as the magic lasted, it was true. “Smile!” the photographer said and knowing no reason not to, we did. Inside twelve months those beaches would be mined and our sad, slow journey would have begun.