For well over a decade, Mummy spent at least three months each year gallivanting (as she called it) all over the world. Even in her 80s she was travelling solo around Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and further afield – usually landing to pick up a car and explore at whim, staying in B&Bs or Youth Hostels. She wasn’t a great user of IT and international phone calls would have been too extravagant without an emergency, so I have got rather used to not hearing from her beyond a postcard for months at a time. Consequently, six months after she died, I’m still waiting for her to come back from a really long trip and have been saving up all the news for her, thinking up project ideas we would develop together, keeping track of all the little incidents that would be a surprise, a laugh or a shared irritation. And it’s her birthday this month so we would have had a special lunch, flowers and presents.
She grew up during the Second World War and felt the impact throughout her life – being careful with food and money. She was hugely proud of Brother Martin and me when we joined the Navy – coming to our Dartmouth passing out parades, revelling in our careers and promotions, impatient when we didn’t write enough. At this time of remembrance, it is good to think of all those mothers who shaped the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces – and who are left behind to wait and worry.
We have honoured her memory in the Westminster Field of Remembrance. Although she wouldn’t have been a fan of the cross, she would be thrilled to have her place amongst so many others who are equally treasured.
Martin’s daughter, Emily, visited her space just outside the North Door of Westminster Abbey (plot 306) amongst the parades and memorial tributes on Sunday and said, “It was lovely and peaceful there, there was a beautiful wreath in the centre of the area for the navy.”
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