I hardly ever see my Mother lost for words. Actually, I never see her without something to say. She’s one of those people that can (and will) open her mouth and mind to share whatever has passed through the channels of communication that run all through her system. Blessing and a curse, blessing and a curse.
She took my younger sister and I out the other night to the joint launch of Charlotte Smiths ‘Dreaming of Chanel’ and ‘The Blood Countess’ by Tara Moss. It was just a regular mid-week girls night out, you know where you have a G&T or two and you put on a pair of amazing shoes and play Diana Ross in the car really loudly.
It’s not an irregular occurrence for my Mother to bump into people she knows at these events, and so walking through into the Carrington ballroom I didn’t pay much attention when I saw the glaze of “I know them” wash across her face. I should have paid better attention.
Settling into third row seats, I somehow missed the fact my Mother had seemed to stop breathing. She grabbed my hand, held it tight and we sat anticipating the night of fashion conversation and vintage fashion that was to parade out. Both authors introduced their respective works, and thanked all those who had helped in their creation. As Tara began to read from her latest novel she digressed to share with the attendees the inspiration for the character of Great Aunt Cecelia. My mother gripped tighter as the Muse stirred in the seat right infront of me. She nodded polite recognition, the conversation went back to fashion. My Mother however, still had my hand.
As the a beautiful collection of vintage Christian Dior, Chanel, Victor Kosta and Cecile Crawford made their way down through the seats, the Muse knocked the glass of champagne that sat next to the leg of her chair, liquid spilt across the floor and headed straight to my feet. She turned quickly to offer her apologies. I handed her the glass which I had been quick to snatch up from spilling anymore and like that, we were settled back just as quickly to finish watching Smiths poor puppy Sydney relieve itself at the feet of his Chanel-clad model partner.
It wasn’t until we were back in the car that my Mother finally opened up…
Chanel pink tweed suit with vintage Chanel earrings and brooch, Cecile Crawford silk and mink dress, 1940’s French velvet applique slip dress.
… When I was a little girl, my Mum had a close friend named Yvette. She was Lebanese and from what I can tell from photographs, she was one of the most beautiful people ever. My Nan speaks so highly of her, there is many a funny anecdote and I still have a clutch of beautiful toys and books that she gifted me when I was young. She died of breast cancer before I was of an age where I could have formed a proper set of memories, conversation and the like. But she was always a constant feature in the picture albums and spoken memory that I know how deep her relationship with the women in my family ran. When my Mum had breast cancer 13 years ago, she fought for herself and for Yvette. When she attended Yvette’s funeral, she bought her an Anthea Crawford tweed jacket, unmissable with it’s jade green and fushcia pink check on the black knit.
Yvette had, along with my Grandmother, taken me out for lunch the day my parents got married. I was only 18th months old. This story has been relayed to me one thousand times. I know what I wore, I know what I ate. And thanks to a casual book launch, I have know met the woman who made this meal. By some weird instance of coincidence, or fate, or destiny we had come face-to-face with Yvette’s older sister, the Muse.
Years had passed and my Mum had recognised Yvettes face in her sister. Turns out she had been thinking about Yvette that whole week. My Mums oncology check up was the following week and she had thrown the tweed Anthea Crawford on the backseat as we were leaving the house in case it got cold. She had only ever worn it that one day at the funeral. And then suddenly she found herself sitting behind her older sister, nearly 15 years later.
Whereas I was suddenly hit with a ball of energy, bowled over by the fact I had had a ‘moment’ with the woman who had cooked me lunch the day my parents got married and had known me and held me when I was mini-sized, my Mum lacked the same enthusiasm. Whilst I wanted to race back in, run up and introduce myself and tell her that thanks to the Lebanese cookbook she wrote I can make perfect traditional falafel, my Mum just wanted to go home and sleep.
It seem that sometimes coincidence isn’t easy to take, and things do hit close to the bone. I’m still stunned that out of nowhere, suddenly, a person can be hit with such a massive emotional field of memories. And I now know why my Mum saved telling me til I was safely on my way home in the car where I couldn’t rush forward and spill forth with those happy childhood recollections that are now underlined with the hardest memory of all, loss.