It’s too personal, too too personal, but D must be dedicated to Dorothy. We fought, we argued, we pitted ourselves against each other, we learned from and taught each other, shared a host of interests together, and now she’s gone, I miss her more each day.
I can’t think of anything I’ve ever heard, or read, which better expresses my attachment to my mother.*
… I was suspended in her space
A star flesh, to her sun
I felt the pull of the earth through her
Before my life began.
I rolled on her heartbeat,
I danced in her blood,
I breathed on her water,
My mother and my god …
But, who was she, this woman who molded me, guided me, watched over me, for all but 58 years of my life?
Dorothy was a Queenslander. I mention this odd appellation because to return to Queensland was one of the conditions she imposed upon my father in accepting his proposal of marriage, and a move from post-war Sydney to the western plains of New South Wales — as she described Griffith, where his farm was –- and also because, until very late in her life, she was never a gall who called Australia home.
She was born in Maryborough, her mother’s home town, on the 19th of March, 1915, and grew up in Brisbane and Toowoomba, surrounded by the laughter and tears of the succession of little boys who were her father’s students. Dorothy’s life was molded by the strong Anglican community of which Grandfather and his school were an integral part. She placed much faith in the principles of duty and fidelity, of doing what is right, even if it was sometimes difficult, or confronting to do so.
But Dorothy’s imagination was fired by the classics she studied alongside her father, and later by English literature, and classical music. As a grown woman she reverenced beauty, the glories of nature, and the creativity of Mankind (sic): the artists, musicians, writers and architects of the world as she know it. Traveling to Europe to see these wonders and the landscapes of Western civilization’s history was her passion.
She was a discreet woman, a product of her times, and those of her grandmother, with whom she lived for several momentous months when her sister Joan was born. It was at great grandmother’s knee that she learned the stories of her mother’s kin, and where was born her strong sense of family and its importance in the life of a woman with no obvious calling. To have her own family became a compelling need, and she applied her formidable personality and standards to lead her little family in the way she saw as right. Through her family she learnt of love, and loving, and through her friends – real, and the creations of fiction – she reveled in life. She loved to be amused, and amazed.
Her unsatisfactory daughter is the beneficiary of her love and strong will, and is eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to demonstrate her love for her mother by caring for her through the last years of her life. Momentously for me, by having this time together as an adult, Dorothy at last came to accept me as I am, and through this acceptance, born of unconditional love, she once again became my beginning – for after she died I was born anew.
* Many thanks to Eddi Reader, “Ghosts”.