Things I didn’t know about my mother. (Part 13)

10 08 2012

It’s amazing how a simple conversation can lead to a road trip, and to revelations about a person I thought I knew, but obviously didn’t. Well not that well anyway. Out of the blue Mother asked whether Derry was from far from here, here being Drogheda. I asked why and mother responded with a story I’m certain she’d never told me before. Before long I’d learnt that she had been based in Eglington during the second world. She had been desperate to become a Wren, and as she freely admits, it was mostly because of the uniform. ‘It was so smart’. But she also admitted that she needed to get away from the man who was eventually to become her husband – my father. Having applied she was delighted to be accepted and so began her great adventure. Handsome Naval Officers, Benbow’s ballroom, a beautiful view of the coast line, a bicycle, and the beginning of a beautiful and long lasting friendship. Her name was Olive, and she was to become mother’s best friend, adopted sister, and an auntie to me. And it all began at a naval base. So we packed a bag, fuelled up the car and headed off. Mother produced a small square black and white photograph she carried in her handbag. ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to find that memorial’? It seemed like a long shot but there was no harm in trying. But in truth we didn’t try that hard. Mother was beginning to feel weary and after so much time spent in Eglington she wasn’t sure she’d be up to traipsing around Derry city. But we did, ear wigging a guide showing tourists around the cities walls. And then out of the blue mother pointed down a road to a memorial. ‘I think that’s it you know’. And so it was. We even identified the step mother and Olive and been photographed on. How uncanny. And what I found to be even more uncanny was the number of times I’d passed that memorial on business trips in recent years with out ever knowing that mother had been there more than 65 years ago, together with auntie Olive.

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