My mother likes to sit quietly in Oxfordshire in her pale pink drawing room reading, if you read her memoir Daughter of Empire you’ll understand why.
Her childhood was an extraordinary whirlwind of English eccentricity, Hollywood glamour, and political education. Her childhood pets included, at different times, a bear, two wallabies, a mongoose, and a lion. During World War II she was sent to live on Fifth Avenue in New York City with Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1947, she lived in India during partition and developed her own relationships with Gandhi and Nehru. She served as a bridesmaid in Princess Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Phillip and was at her side as lady-in-waiting when the young princess learned her father had died and she was queen.
All this by the age of 21.
Now at 84 my mother allows me to invade her home as though it were still my own. Late the other evening in the library of this home I was on a conference call with two sets of lawyers, on 3 different time zones, when I heard my mother calling.
I carried on with the call.
“Indiaaaa” I heard her call again.
I prayed she would give up. I carried on with the call.
“INDIA” she called again.
I interrupted the lawyers “I’m so sorry, I need to jump off for a moment” I dashed to the bottom of the stairs “Yes Mum?” I said, seeing her at the top.
“I am not shouting to you down there, come up here” she instructed.
I ran up to the top the stairs worrying about the clock ticking on the lawyers’ billable hours.
“Do you need a clothes brush?” she asked.
“A clothes brush” she said “I have a spare one”
Its Mother’s Day in England today, and, as dementing as mother’s can be I have no idea where I would be without mine. Well I do have some idea, I wouldn’t be here at all, but you know what I mean. Happy Mother’s Day.